"To me it don’t matter how many dogs you have if you’re gonna take care of them. I feel bad about people who get dogs and then abuse them. I love my dogs, I wouldn’t trade my dogs for nothing."

Rochelle is new to being a dog mom while homeless, but she's already completely in love. She got her two dogs, Molly and Melagro, just one week apart three months ago. Molly is six and Melagro is just under a year old. Although Rochelle has had dogs before, this is the first time she's had them since she became homeless three years ago. Her seven-year-old grandson, Davonte, stays with her and her partner, Michael, in their RV in the Ballard Safe Lot over the weekends. Davonte said that they needed a guard dog, and so when Rochelle found the dogs for sale in Des Moines she decided that it was time for a new addition to the family. 

Crohn's disease, fibromyalgia, and sleep apnea are just some of the medical issues that Rochelle struggles with. She's found that the dogs help with these issues by providing emotional support, "Just to have the comfort [of the dogs]. I’m going through a lot right now emotionally and spiritually. Going through a lot. They’re companions. They help me deal with emotional stress… One time I was crying and Molly came over, she knew I was crying and she comforted me." Recently Rochelle was able to get a letter from her doctor designating the dogs as her emotional support animals, which has helped by allowing her to take the dogs with her to her doctor's appointments.  

Rochelle has been getting her dog food at the Ballard Food Bank and finding all sorts of other treats there like toys, leashes, and even diapers small enough to fit Molly when she was in heat. Her social worker helps out with things like treats, shampoo, and dental hygiene products. Although she has tried to access veterinary care at the Doney Clinic, her desire to breed Molly means that she will not be able to utilize this resource until she gets Molly spayed, which she plans to do after a litter. She has tried a number of private vet clinics in the area, but has had difficulty finding one that works for her economically, though she keeps trying as best she can.  

Sometimes the dogs' behavior makes her think that they were abused before she took them in and she's happy that she can take care of them now. "They know when they have TLC and they know when they don’t. They have emotions like humans. We take good care of our dogs, I don’t abuse my dogs and I don’t let anybody abuse my dogs," she remarks. As I get ready to go, Davonte steps inside the RV to bring the dogs out to play with him, seeming quite happy that his grandmother followed through on his suggestion for some animal companions.