On the streets of Kingston upon Thames you will see a friendly, passive Rottweiler dog called Survivor, with his homeless owner Kirk.

Survivor was born in a Crisis at Christmas centre, as their venues all take pets.

The dog nearly died when he was born, but Kirk believes in the power of names, so when he looked into his dog’s eyes, “I had a gut feeling that this dog was going to make it – he’s going to survive, so that’s why I called him that – Survivor by name, survivor by nature. ”

The same could also apply to Kirk – homeless and living on the streets for 20 years. Born with bronchial pneumonia (he still gets bronchitis every year), he spent most of the 66 years of his life in the Army, including the SAS, and also worked as a Royal bodyguard.

People become homeless for lots of different reasons, but in Kirk’s case it was due to a relationship breakdown. He also had post-traumatic stress disorder from being in the Army, but he doesn’t take drugs or drink.

There are 13,000 homeless ex-soldiers, which Kirk plans to protest about by making a coffin which he hopes to take to next year’s Remembrance Day parade. On the side of the coffin will be written “is this the only home we’re ever going to have?”

Although Rottweilers have a reputation for being aggressive, Kirk says it depends how they are brought up.

“Survivor is the softest thing, with children, babies, other dogs and people. I call him slopweister. He likes all the girls – all the girls give him a kiss and cuddle,” he said.

“There’s no pretty girl for me – he gets them all. No girl chats me up, they chat him up. He’s well fed, well loved, well looked after. He’s the biggest, softest thing on four legs on the planet.”

Most accommodation don’t take pets and Kirk would rather be on the streets than be parted from his dog – his “best companion in life. I live for my dog.”

KCAH run night shelters in Kingston churches for the homeless. Originally none took dogs, but Kirk persuaded the Director of KCAH Matt Hatton to change this policy, and now 6 out of 7 night shelters take them.

Matt says he will do a risk assessment for each new dog that comes in, as Kirk is the only pet owner using the shelters at the moment.

Matt said: “Typically, it is so much harder to find a housing solution for someone experiencing homelessness who has a pet. This relates to both social housing and private renting.

“KCAH itself, for example, has had to review – in consultation with people who use our services – the approach we take to helping people with dogs. Today the majority of our night shelter venues for people who might otherwise be rough sleeping welcome dogs.

“This is really important otherwise we exclude people just because they have a pet. This condemns them to further isolation and loneliness.”

Kirk is working with Akhtar Shah, the Pastor of the Everyday Church in Kingston, to try and raise money to buy houses for the homeless. Very few temporary accommodation take pets, but the Dogs Trust has the Hope Project, which works with hostels and housing providers to encourage them to accept clients with dogs. It also has the Freedom Project, which provides temporary foster care for pets where people are facing personal crisis.

Kirk applied for housing with a homeless charity called Spear, but it fell through. One of the reasons being that you can’t get housed without Universal Credit, but you can’t get Universal Credit without an address.

Universal Credit has led to a big rise in homelessness. It can only be applied for online, but most homeless people and those living in poverty do not have access to the internet. Librarians are complaining that they are being forced to make benefit applications for people, which they are not trained to do.

Kirk did live in temporary accommodation four years ago, for 18 months. They originally didn’t allow pets, but Kirk persuaded them to change their policy.

“Every victory I win is a changed policy for dogs,” Kirk said. “They broke their rules to let me in. I won this war.”

There are some homeless hostels just for ex-servicemen, and Kirk could get into Chelsea Pensioners, but they don’t take dogs, and neither does the YMCA.

If Kirk was Minister for Homelessness, he would get people to build their own homes: “If they’ve got building skills, you’ll do this for no money, but you’ll get a house out of it. If you’re unemployed, do something useful with your life and make yourself a home. Self-builds improve people’s lives.”

Kirk has never applied for council accommodation. Permission can be asked to have a pet, but Kirk has his own policy too – “love me, love my dog. I’d rather have a dog than a house.”

Kirk is worried he might be refused permission to have a dog: “I would need to go through the rules and regulations before I put my name down.” But with 4000 people on the Kingston council housing list, he could have a long wait before he gets a place.

Kirk would prefer to buy a houseboat, but it would cost £50,000. A fundraising campaign has been set up to try and raise the money needed at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kirk

A houseboat would enable him to “have a place where I can live by my own rules. Where I’ll have the freedom to live and do what I like.” He has a friend who owns a boatyard who has offered him a free mooring.

Kirk says: “A lot of homeless people love their dogs. I certainly do. At the end of the day, if it’s a choice of a place or a dog, the dog will always win.”

Kirk's grandfather was a holocaust survivor who walked out of Auschwitz alive. The strength to survive has been carried forward to Kirk and his dog.

A JustGiving page for Kirk's fundraising can be found here.