Mad Dog, this one’s for you.

Oregon Hill is full of all kinds of characters, perhaps none as recognizable as Mad Dog, who died last week.  He could often be found on the corner of Idlewood and Laurel, holding a cardboard sign that said simply “MAD DOG NEED BEER.”  It’s hard to sort out my feelings about Mad Dog, because he was by turns infuriating and endearing.  So adamant that all he needed was a beer, when actually that might be the last thing he needed.  But so thankful whenever I was able to give him some food.  Just last Monday night he was raving about my pasta at the SynerGeo community dinner, and it made me feel great because it was my first time making that particular dish.

I hear that in recent months, things had really started to turn around for him.  The folks at SynerGeo had helped him get his disability benefits in order, so he was receiving a check from the government and could afford to rent a small place from my landlord.  Still, his health was failing.  Another friend who lives on the block and works in hospice care checked on him frequently, and spread the word when he began to go steeply downhill.  I was told that he was surrounded by friends and neighbors when he died.

I’m not going to pretend like we were besties or that I knew him super well or anything, but I can honestly say I’ll miss Mad Dog.  He won’t be there when I pass his spot on Idlewood anymore, and I won’t stop to have a little chat with him and mirror his crooked smile on my walk to work in the mornings.  And that’s one little thing less to look forward to every day.

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6 thoughts on “Mad Dog, this one’s for you.

  1. Tess, I’m so pleased to see you have such a kind hearted response to homeless individuals in out community. It’s a subject very close to my heart and one I am dedicating my career toward. Thank you for posting this. Are you familiar with Virginia Supportive Housing? It is an amazing agency and I will be working with them this year. ❤

  2. Thanks, Robin. I do know about Virginia Supportive Housing; the temple where I work sometimes does things with them. They also do CARITAS, which is awesome. I think it’s great that if you’re homeless in Richmond and you’re not totally wasted, you can have a place to sleep at night with a roof over your head. It’s a nice thing to offer, and I love that all different sorts of churches, temples, etc. around town work together to make it happen.

  3. Thanks for this, I will miss him too. I would stop to chat with him when I walked the dog, and he was always really pleasant to us, especially the past few months. He was so excited to be able to get on his feet again, it breaks my heart a little that he passed away so soon after.

  4. I remember him from when I was 15 and hanging out on Grace Street. He was my favorite. I hadn’t seen him in so long, I figured the streets took him. Glad to know he died surrounded by people who cared. Thanks for this post.

  5. No problem, Lara. Also, update: Helped out at the visitation tonight at SynerGeo, and it was really nice. A lot of people came to view Mad Dog, hang out, and just tell stories. One guy came up and put a 22 of Natty Ice in the coffin. No joke. Welcome to Oregon Hill.

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