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Fernando Leaves Best Friend Behind To Finally Get Help

Mar 20, 2019

Fernando doesn’t have much family left, nor does he have many important personal relationships in his life. But when he talks about his dog, Fernando’s eyes light up. Kiko, a 6-year-old blue heeler, is his best friend. And leaving him behind for several months, while Fernando gets help at the mission, has been tough. “I love my dog very much,” Fernando said. “I’ve had him since he was a puppy. We are bonded.”

Fernando, 56, is from Ojai. He got married when he was 22, and divorced 10 years later after having three kids. He’s worked labor jobs and at McDonalds and has been doing drugs, off and on, his entire life. “I tried it and got addicted, right away,” he said. “I never got in trouble. I didn’t even know it was a crime—I was so naïve I guess. I didn’t spend a day in jail until I was in my 50s. In my 20s, 30s, 40s, I was just working and using drugs.”

Fernando didn’t engage in any criminal behavior aside from possessing and using drugs, but started getting arrested in his 50s for being under the influence after the manager at his trailer park noticed and called the police. Fernando had lived there with his mom for the last 20 years, since his father died. She passed away last year. “I knew someone was going to die, me or her,” Fernando said, in tears. “I’m a very sensitive person. I feel things. … She took care of me and I took care of her. We were a family—me and Kiko and my mom and her dog, Charlie. We became really close, those last couple of years. “I feel guilty sometimes because of my lifestyle. I feel guilty because of my drug use.”

Fernando came to the mission in January. “I came here to break away from that, to get clean. I’m tired of going to jail. I’m tired of using drugs—it’s just not worth it. I’m here to try to find another way of living.”

Fernando is focusing on his relationship with God and getting back on his feet, while still missing his best friend, Kiko. “He is with my sister, and I promised him I would come back,” he said. “God wants me here. I didn’t want to come, but I needed to come. I don’t think about the future. I just take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is not mine.”

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