‘She saved my soul’: Homeless James and Muck to pass through Brockville

Homeless James and Muck will be passing through Brockville in the coming months. – Submitted photo

Brockvillians should be on the lookout in the coming weeks for the arrival of author and advocate James Caughill, who goes by the pseudonym ‘Homeless James.’

James and his furry friend and travel companion Muckwah are on a mission to walk across Canada in an attempt to raise awareness about allowing pets into homeless shelters.

James grew up in St. Catharines and though he was a little wild in nature, no one could have prepared him for the twists and turns his life would take. James explained to the Brockvilleist that he struggled with severe drug addiction for 25 years of his life. 

James does not devalue the impact that a pet can have on one’s mental health and well-being. He explains that becoming homeless and finding his first dog, Muckwah, set him on a path to sobriety and renewing his life.

“I had to choose between my job and my drugs,” James shared. “Muckwah saved my life. She saved my soul.” 

Muckwah, often referred to as Muck, is James’ loyal Siberian Husky/Alaskan Malamute sidekick. The two found each other in 2019 after James’ original travel buddy, a female dog named Muckwah, passed away unexpectedly of uterine cancer. 

When she passed away, James felt his will to stay off drugs and his motivation to continue his mission fading away. In what James considers an act of divine intervention, the second Muckwah (nicknamed Muck) walked out of a shelter in Orillia with him on April 1, 2019. The pair have been inseparable since.  

Homeless James has been walking across the country since 2016 and detailed many of his adventures in a series of six published volumes entitled “Walking to the Rockies with Muckwah.” 

James has previously walked from Vermillion Bay, Ontario to Vancouver, BC but now it’s time for him to conquer Canada’s East Coast. He plans on spending the next few years travelling with Muck towards the final stop of St. John’s, Newfoundland. 

James shared that since he first gained widespread attention and support in 2016, 100 homeless shelters in Canada have since become pet-friendly. He prides himself on being the catalyst for these positive changes but he knows his work is not nearly done.

When speaking with Brockvilleist, James shared that he is currently staying in South Frontenac, but he will be making a four to five-day stop in Brockville in the next few weeks to begin his voyage east.

James says he will be using this time in Brockville to rest up and visit a friend while he and Muck camp out in their backyard. He also wants to visit Canadian Tire and Walmart to restock supplies and food before venturing onward to Cornwall, Ontario. 

James announced that he has recently submitted his manuscript for his second book, entitled “Walkin’ Down East Wit Muck.” The story is currently being reviewed and edited by his publisher and will soon be available to read on Amazon.  

James also shared that he has received interest from an undisclosed film production company to purchase the rights for his first book. This deal could lead to the creation of docu-series or TV series based on his story. James wouldn’t share the exact payment he could receive for the deal, but alluded that it would be significant.

“I’ve only got one condition. I insist on George Clooney playing me,” James quipped.

James explained to Brockvilleist that 90 per cent of the proceeds from his book sales and potential documentary or TV series will be going towards building his own homeless shelters made up of mini homes. He plans to begin with three “Muckwah Memorial Homeless Shelters” in Toronto, Winnipeg and Victoria, BC. 

Before these shelters can be built, James intends on starting a non-profit fundraising foundation under the name “The Muckwah Memorial Foundation for the Homeless and Their Pets.” The proceeds donated to this foundation would go towards James’ long-term goal of building a pet-friendly homeless shelter in every major city in Canada.

But James’ big plans don’t stop there. His personal dream is to buy 5-10 acres of land in Columbus, Ontario so he can open up the “Muckwah Memorial Pet Sanctuary.” He imagines this to be a fenced-in large-scale sanctuary for unwanted pets of all ages shapes, and sizes. 

James details, “I’m going to go around and collect all the unwanted animals in all the homeless shelters I can find. There will be indoor kennels that are heated for the dogs and a farm with hay and lots of mice for the cats.”

Over the years, James and Muckwah have amassed a following of 17,000 followers on Facebook from many different countries. He is always happy to stop and chat with folks on his journeys and his furry friend doesn’t mind the attention either. If you recognize him during his stay in Brockville, don’t be afraid to say hello. 

You can follow Homeless James and Muckwah’s progress towards St. John’s by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/HomelessJamesandMuckwah/

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