The Heartbreaking Quest for Pet Companionship in a World of Housing Insecurity

Longing for pet companionship

Original Artwork by Homeless Loki

One of the saddest things about not having stable housing is the inability to have a pet or emotional support animal. The companionship of a pet is often preferred among autistic adults to the companionship of other humans. Many companies are scrambling to create robotic AI companions because they believe that people will see artificial intelligence as a better companion than most organic people once accepted by the masses.

Some designs are of robotic dogs, for example, though others resemble a woman or a cute robot. Whatever the companion looks like, it doesn’t matter. If you’re homeless or living with chronic housing insecurity, you won’t be able to access it.

If I had a forever home that was truly mine and no one could throw me out of (and was not a situation where you are in an apartment that doesn’t allow animals, as so many do not), I would have animals in my home.

I want to rescue a feathered companion, as I love birds. I once lived with birds. So many parrot shelters are desperate to find loving homes for them. I know they can sometimes make ” bad noises, ” but I understand them and would be a great bird mama.

A nice older parrot who won’t live another 80 years is probably my better choice given my health situation, but at least I could give love and care to a senior bird. 

I miss having a fish tank, too.

I once had a beautiful small tank with black light wallpaper and black gravel with fluorescent-colored stones mixed in. All the decor was black light-painted, and the fish inside were tiny neon tetras. I love neons. That tank looked so amazing in a dark room! I would watch the colors and how the fish moved around under the black light. I would want another neon tank. 

I’d also love to have at least one Betta fish. I have a 2-gallon, gently bubbled tank in storage from my last Betta. He lived with me for three years before he died. He was my “water puppy”.

Whenever I sat at my desk, he would enthusiastically swim up to the glass and look at me, flittering around like a dog might when they see you. King Neptune knew when he saw me at the desk that I would give him his dinner and then he’d hang out near me for the remainder of the night as I worked on art or writing or whatever. I miss him so much. 

I wouldn’t mind a vest-wearing autism service animal, either. My doctor has often said they’d happily complete the paperwork for it.

Sadly, however, I don’t have housing and probably never will. I might eventually end up in some horror show or other to die in but not to live in. So, the only type of companionship I truly desire, I cannot have. The list of things that housed people take for granted is long. 

I have essentially been in and out of homelessness or have at least had housing insecurity since I turned 18 years old and escaped the house where I was raised.

My adoptive female parent has NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and has severe anger management issues. I wasn’t raised like an average child. I was raised with terror and abuse, both physical and verbal.

Leaving that house was better than staying. I know some readers can relate, but many probably cannot imagine having a childhood so bad that risking the street would be an upgrade to staying there. 

My first stop was with a friend and her three young children. That was a tricky situation because I was not supposed to be there. Her landlord would have been furious. So I snuck in late at night and if I was there any other time, I was the babysitter. That was true. I was often the babysitter. 

After that, I became a caregiver and roommate to a wonderful man with Down Syndrome. He needed help managing a household after his parents had both died. We were together for seven years before the man’s evil (and very wealthy) family sold the house out from under him. (He had been born in that house, by the way, in the very room that was his bedroom.)

It wasn’t until two years later that I found a friend to get an apartment with. But after one year, she wanted to move back to her hometown in the Midwest and continue her college education there. I scrambled for another roommate.

I know better than most how hard it can be to find a decent roommate, especially if you are on the autism spectrum. People who need a room for rent are usually very unstable and transient (or else they’d have housing). 

Even after escaping New York City (I had lived in one of the boroughs), I still floundered. The worst catastrophe was when I lost my beautiful cottage in the woods.

As of this writing, I have moved 15 times! I am sick of moving and of not being in a forever home. I am sick of the instability in my life.

Except for those I have known who became homeless and had a dog who could stay with them, or cases where a stray animal became a pet, most homeless people cannot find a dog or adopt one. I have heard that some kill shelters are more lax in who they allow to adopt. It’s one thing if you and your animal become homeless together, but it’s another thing if you are homeless and try to adopt a pet.

If you have a van, you might be able to manage it. The animal can be there for your emotional needs, and provide a layer of safety. People are less likely to try to hurt you if you have a dog with you.

Ironically, even if you rescue a homeless dog who lives with you in a van, trolls will criticize you for it! People don’t care if a fellow human rots in the streets, freezes to death in a tent, or dies of heat stroke in the summer. They only care that the dog be okay. This lack of decency toward other humans plays a massive role in the horrors of this world. 

Myself, I crave aloneness. I am never lonely, but having animals and plants in my life is important to me. I have a lot of wonderful friends and they help me survive. I love them all, but I still have room in my heart for pets and no home in which to have them.

Homeless Loki

Homeless Loki


Homeless Loki is a disabled homeless person also on the autism spectrum currently homeless in upstate New York

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