It was an ice-cold day in Fresno, California last winter, and Christmas was soon approaching, when Jenine-Lacette DShazer first spotted Clifford James Herbert and his dog, Baby.
Herbert, 60-years-old, was homeless and disheveled, but he still took good care of his companion—he had the dog in his arms, sheltering her from the cold.
But she could tell that he was in great pain.
When DShazer approached him, she noticed his demeanor was different than the typical homeless person. He didn’t seem interested in asking for things—he just appreciated the human contact.
“He didn’t ask me for money or anything; he was just appreciative,” DShazer recalled to the Fresno Bee.
“First of all, that I noticed him, that I talked to him, that I didn’t treat him as less-than, and he was exceptionally grateful.”
Although he didn’t ask, she offered him some basic supplies she had in her car, and the two started talking.
It was then she learned Herbert’s tragic story.
He was dying.
Herbert had suffered through unbelievably hard times for the past decade. For most of his life, he was able to make a living. He worked as a farm laborer and later even owned his own mechanic shop.
But things took a turn in 2006, when he became disabled after a heart surgery and tracheotomy. Unable to work, he soon became homeless.
Out on the streets, his only companion was Baby.
The story of how Herbert first got Baby is amazingly heroic. He rescued her from an abusive owner—by fighting him.
“I told him, ‘I want that dog,’” he recalled to the Fresno Bee. “He said no, and the fight was on.”
Herbert might have saved Baby, but she saved him right back, serving as his rock throughout the hard times.
“She’s my whole world,” Herbert told the Fresno Bee.
“She’s my best friend. She protects me.”
But recently, Herbert had received a fatal diagnosis. Doctors discovered aggressive cancer in his body that had spread to his brain.
They gave him only weeks to live—until the end of January.
Knowing his life was coming to an end, Herbert wasn’t concerned for himself—only for Baby. He was worried what would happen to his beloved dog after he was gone, and he wanted to know that she would be well taken care of.
He told DShazer his final wish—to find a good home for Baby before he died.
DShazer was heartbroken by the story, and she knew she had to do something.
She began by putting together a GoFundMe page. Part of it was to help raise money to give Herbert shelter by putting him in a hotel for his final months. Another part of it was to raise awareness of Baby’s need, and hope some family might see the story and adopt the dog before Herbert passed.
A GoFundMe campaign helped Herbert in his final days.
The campaign raised thousands of dollars to keep Herbert warm for the winter—and the Walker family, from Squaw Valley, reached out to adopt the dog.
They were the perfect candidates—a loving family, including a two-year-old daughter, to give Baby a good home, exactly as Herbert wanted it.
The family had compassion for the story, knowing how much the pet must’ve meant to him over the years:
“I can’t imagine someone I know or love going through that, especially with a dog, because dogs are your kids,” Stephanie Walker told the Fresno Bee. “It just made me want to help, however I could.”
And Baby found a new home.
When Herbert died, he was able to take comfort in knowing that he got his final wish, and he kept his best friend safe till the very end—thanks to some kindness from strangers.