Talking to Savannah’s “Dog People”

Talking to Savannah's "Dog People" (Image 1)

They are known as the “dog people” or “dirty kids.”  

They don't look good, or smell good.  

But are they causing any problems, or just hanging out?  

“Why Savannah?”  “I don't know,” said Mike. “I just know all my dirty kid friends came here so I decided to come.”
“So we can call you dirty kids?”
“Look at us! You can call us anything you want. The only name I like is street kid. I'm just a street kid.”

These “street kids” range from 20-31.  

They are from all over the country.  They hitched rides or jumped trains just to meet up and hang out.

“There's a sort of grace to it.”
“In what way?”
“You meet random people. You do random things. You go to random places. Most of us try to emphasize the idea of happiness.”

“What about the people say you should get a job?”
“I tell them to kick rocks.”
“Everybody has a divine right to be and do whatever they feel like doing. And if you aren't hurting anybody, then let it be.”

“We are pretty much a tourist attraction,” said “Beetlejuice” “People come up, talk to us. Want to take our pictures. We like the attention a little bit, but really it's the life of freedom. Jumping on a freight train from town to town. Be able to do what we want, see the world.”

The world doesn't always want them, though.  When they come to Savannah, they have to get their picture and information taken by police, all collected in a “dog people” book in case something criminal happens.

“Do you think you have a bad reputation?”
“Of course we do!” said Max. “There are a few bad apples, they ruin it for everybody.”

While News 3 was there, we saw how that reputation, and their animals, drew police to this camp on river street.

“We are the festival officers and we are telling you can't have the animals here,” explained the officers.

So while they had to move on this day, they left behind some words of wisdom for anyone they might encounter during the holiday.

“Don't judge us. Don't assume things about us. We're awesome people. We're respectful. We're kind. We're loving. Please come up and have a conversation, that's all we ask.”

And what kind of response are they getting from Savannah?  

They say it's been great.  A few sips of beer here, a dollar there.  

Some days they can make as much as $100.  

Most of the time they just rely on the kindness of strangers to get by.

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