Anyone who has a dog as a valued pet knows how much comfort can be found in a canine’s companionship.

That’s not to denigrate the closeness we have with other pets, but scientists tell us dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years longer than any other species.

Ever since the first wolf wandered out of the darkness to crouch by the fire and dine on a meal provided by a human, the affinity between people and dogs has been close and, most of the time, mutually rewarding.

Thus, it really isn’t a surprise that some people who have no permanent place to live still share their lives with a dog.

Of course, trying to keep a pet well-fed and healthy under those circumstances is more than a challenge. So, out of compassion for both species in the human-canine relationship, the Animal Refuge League and the Oxford Street Shelter have been working together to provide basic veterinary care for the dogs that some homeless men have been bringing with them to the shelter.

The dogs have been allowed to stay with the residents as long as the pets have current rabies vaccinations and their owners have a note from a counselor saying the dog serves as a therapy animal in the relationship.

The partnership was established when shelter workers noted that homeless men were not only showing up with dogs, but were spending their very limited resources on them before they would spend it on themselves. In addition, the workers were worried that if they didn’t somehow accommodate the pets, their owners wouldn’t use the shelter’s services.

So now, the dogs get basic checkups and shots, and their owners find refuge along with them, both beneficiaries of an act of compassion that unites human and animal affection in a highly creative and caring way.