Loki and Roy


Loki and Roy


I stood on the sidewalk outside Tamp and Grind Coffee, waiting for our weekly homeless Bible study to begin.

That’s when I saw Roy.

His face was a mask of pain, and his puffy eyes were ample testimony that he’d been crying.

Roy’s countenance and body language weren’t contortions of physical pain. It was pure grief.


When you see it, you’ll know it. It’s hard to hide.

I looked for Loki, but the dog was nowhere to be seen. It was clear something had happened to Roy’s beloved companion.

Many homeless people have dogs, and they are much more than pets. They’re a comfort in their hopeless wanderings.

I had observed Roy and Loki weekly at Church on the Levee. As Loki sat tethered, his master tenderly stroked Loki’s back.

Clearly, this black and tan hound helped calm the demons in Roy.

But today, Loki was missing, and Roy was alone, obviously in deep pain.

Someone whispered. “Loki was killed this week. Someone shot him.”

I was shocked. Loki was a gentle dog tied to Roy by a red leash-lifeline.

The story was murky. When you live on the street, many things can happen, most bad.

I walked over and stood beside Roy, grieving with him. I also know the deep pain of losing a beloved dog.

I put my arm around his shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Roy. I know how much Loki meant to you. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

I’ve learned that fewer words and more physical touch are needed in the face of grief.

As Bible study began, I took my seat in a wrought iron outdoor chair.

My dog, Bandit, stirred under my feet.

Bandit is my constant companion and great company. He’s a mutt from the animal shelter.

We have a mutual admiration society. I saved him from the pound and an uncertain future. He faithfully sat beside me during the blackest depths of a depression that shook my life to its foundation.

We are grateful for each other, and that’s why I enjoy his company. That’s why he’s with me today. I simply enjoy being with him.

Roy takes a chair beside me, his head in his hands. I can sense the sorrow flowing from his soul.

Evidently, Bandit recognizes it, too. He rises from under my chair and walks over, placing his muzzle on Roy’s shoe.


And that’s where Bandit stayed. He eventually put his paws on Roy’s knees, and Roy began stroking his back. 

Bandit kept vigil at his post throughout the entire lesson.

I’m not ashamed that I cried. Not boo-hoo sobbing, but the best type of tears: my eyes welled up and silently overflowed down my cheeks.

I looked up at some of my friends. They nodded at Bandit with a quiet, knowing smile mixed with the same kind of tears.

The Bible study ended.

Roy walked away.  

One of our leaders nodded at Bandit. “Curt, that dog’s a comfort dog. He knew just what to do. He knew Roy needed his presence.”

I silently nodded.  I don’t believe animals have souls, but I do sense that God has put a spark of something inside a dog that can sense when a person is hurting.


We don’t call them man’s best friend for nothing.


* * *


Our homeless bible study meets Tuesdays at 5:00 PM outside Tamp and Ground Coffee in downtown Alexandria, Louisiana. Come join us for a cup of coffee.


Learn how you can support Church on the Levee at https://www.churchonthelevee.com.


Read more stories like this at www.creekbank.net or follow us at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCreekTribe/


Curt Iles

Thursday, May 2, 2024


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