Cathy A. Small


On her book The Man in the Dog Park: Coming Up Close to Homelessness

Cover Interview of January 06, 2021

A close-up

There are so many encounters, described in the book, which continue to affect me. Maybe the reader would stumble on one of them and see its poignancy.

A strapping, homeless, youth walks with me (a 5’ 2”, 112 lb., female senior citizen) in an upscale neighborhood and turns to exclaim: “I feel so safe with you!” (He likes to look at people’s gardens and homes and feels that, without me there, residents would call the police).

A homeless day-laborer, working a back-breaking 10-hour construction job, is worried only that the other men on the crew will see he has no lunch when it is time to eat.

A 44-year-old woman sneaks each night into the 10x10 storage unit she rents, because her minimum wage salary is not enough for an apartment in her town.

These are just a few of the people whom readers might meet.

Probably, though, I would most want browsers to begin at the beginning. There (in the preface and the first pages of the introduction) they would see where I personally started with this: afraid of a homeless man I encountered one early morning when I came alone with my dog to a secluded dog park. And I would add: Completely unaware that anyone of the people in the stories above lived the lives they did.

From these initial pages, browsers would also get a sense of where one can go in crossing the boundaries into another world, at least, what it offered me: “not only a greater responsiveness to the human condition but also the delight of living in a world less alien, less hostile, less unloving than it felt before” (Preface, viii).