HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A homeless man and his yellow lab stand peacefully on the side of the street on Atlantic Avenue in Garden City.
It's been home for Alan Lord and his 4-year-old yellow lab, Levi, for the past month. It's a familiar feeling of homelessness after more than a year of living on the streets.
"You can't judge a book by its cover," said Lord.
Lord used to have a successful life in Charlotte. He did data entry for Bank of America for a long time. Then, he lost his job, his wife and his house, and resources quickly ran out.
Eventually, Lord moved to the Surfside/Garden City area, but a job fell through.
"I do not panhandle, I've never asked anybody for money, I don't make up signs. It's very hard for me to be in this position. A lot of people I think have realized that and if they offer me money and stuff, I can't turn it down because I have to support the dog," he said. "People have been bringing dog food and been very, very kind. Kids come up and hand me food and offer and say, 'Is there anything we can do for you, water or anything?'"
It's been more help than he imagined.
"A lot of people have really been going out of their way to keep us well fed and keep some extra money in our pockets," Lord said. "We sit by the road most of the time, on the sidewalks. We've had many sleepless nights. The dog will sleep in the kennel. I have the tarps over him to keep the wind blocked out and trap his body heat in, and I'll climb under the tarp, too."
Lord is still recovering from a near-fatal car crash that required multiple back surgeries and contributed to mental health problems. Levi is his service dog.
"I think I would have stopped waking up at this point, you know. I think I might have given up. He is a very big piece of my heart. People who have kids probably feel the same way," he said.
Some of the help Lord and Levi have received comes from Doris Lindenwald. She comes to assist every single day.
"It's heartbreaking. I feel bad for him. I get emotional because I know what it is to be without anything." Lindenwald said in tears. "I grew up with not a lot. My heart just breaks for this guy. He's always been pleasant to me and my friends, he always has, and we've tried to do what we can to help him."
Lindenwald and her friends noticed Lord and Levi on the street near her home.
She got more people together to buy a crate on wheels so Lord could push Levi around and make it easier on his back. She said she has seen him in tears because of the pain.
Lindenwald and her friends have bought food and water on a daily basis, and given Lord money. She has reached out for more help.
"There should be more awareness to get these people off the streets," Lindenwald said. "We called Street Reach and they said they had a bed and would take the dog, but just for a short time. This guy needs permanent help and I think he needs help with doctors."
Some were concerned for Levi's well-being and the Grand Strand Humane Society was contacted, according to Lindenwald. She was told that as long the dog is healthy and not mistreated, he has the right to have it.
Lord said he is willing to take the next step.
"We are still currently looking for a place. I am willing to do work and trying to get federal disability," he said. "I still want to be a functioning member of society. I think I have a lot to teach other people and have a lot to give to the world."
Lindenwald is hoping a Go Fund Me page will be created to bring more awareness. To help get involved, send WMBF News a message on Facebook.