Ontario homeless man and dog arrive in Hedley, BC – Okanagan

It’s been quite a journey for noted Ontario homeless man James Caughill and his dog Muck.

Caughill started walking from Ontario to Vancouver six years ago, arriving in Hedley, BC on Tuesday.

When Caughill became homeless in 2016, he said shelters would not allow him to stay because of his dog. This led to his walk to raise awareness about the problem.

His original dog Muckwah passed away in 2019, but his second pet Muck remains by his side.

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“Muckwah and I wrestled in the streets of St. Catharines. For three months I lived in an unused dumpster, we ate from the dumpsters. I would go to this dog-friendly library and use the computer to look for shelters for my dog ​​to go to and there weren’t any,” Caughill said.

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“We started on September 24, 2016, 2 o’clock in the afternoon – we started our walk across Canada to raise awareness. (Pets are) family, they are the most important.”

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He went on to say that some shelters have started to allow pets after his campaign.

“We have 35 shelters that now take in pets that didn’t take pets before, all thanks to us,” says Caughill.

Six years after he started, Caughill says he didn’t expect his journey to take so long. He has hit a few bumps in the road, including the COVID-19 lockdown, which left him trapped in a small Manitoba town called Cypress River for 17 months.

“No, I thought it would take a year or two at most. It took two and a half years to leave Ontario because of the roundabout,” says Caughill.

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“We could have taken Highway 11, but just like Highway 1 here, Highway 11 there are no cities to get supplies.”

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The couple currently travels along Highway 3, walking about 15 miles a day. Caughill pushes his tent and supplies into an orange cart marked Homeless James and Muckwah.

He takes the winters off so that the last stop before the cold comes will be Princeton.

“We’re being picked up and going to Abbotsford for the winter. In the spring (we’re going) back to Princeton where we left off,” he added.

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With over 9,000 followers on Facebook, Caughill has seen many residents donate supplies and space for him to pitch his tent. Some people even stop to check in with him while he’s on his way.

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“In Hedley we have a nice lady who lets us stay in her garden for a few days,” he said.

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It’s his first time in BC and says the response from residents has been mostly positive, and he’s been surprised by the overwhelming response to his story and his books.

“I’d say 80 percent — 80 percent insanely fantastic, fantastic — but it’s one extreme or the other,” Caughill said. “And it’s great, 90 percent of the money from my books goes to three shelters for the homeless in Ontario,” Caughill said.

Although he has received some negativity, he says he won’t stop until he reaches Vancouver.

From there, he plans to catch a train to Washago, Ontario, to finish his next book before departing on his next journey through Newfoundland and Labrador and PEI.

“If I see the Welcome to Vancouver sign, that’ll be fine, but my next trip is just to say I’ve walked all over the country,” Caughill said.

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