A&E’s TV show Hoarders, which follows a team of cleaners who get rid of clutter left behind by junk collectors, is oddly enjoyable to millions of viewers, but it isn’t the same for the people featured on the show.
Hoarders may sometimes find it challenging to participate in the show, as compulsive hoarding is more than just a desire to keep stuff and is often linked to loss, mental disorders, and even attention deficit disorder.
In the tenth season, notorious hoarder Dale possessed everything from Yukon river bridge decking to over a hundred vehicles.
Still, it soon became apparent to fans of the show that his disorder was rooted in the losses he had endured over the years.
While the show helped Dale clear out the clutter he had amassed, we doubt they did much for solving the trauma that underpinned his compulsive habit.
We decided to revisit Dale’s narrative and discover what’s become of him since he was on the show.
But first, let’s take a glimpse at Dale’s story on A&E’s Hoarders.
Dale Calhoun’s tons of trash
In an episode of Hoarders titled Dale, viewers are given a front seat view of Dale’s uninviting home, with the Hoarder team being tasked to help Dale control his compulsive disorder.
As viewers of Hoarders would know, all homes that appear on the program belong to homeowners who’ve filled up their spaces with objects they often don’t even use, to the point that the clutter becomes a health risk.
And while most people who’ve featured on the show create pathways to at least move around in their homes, Dale’s piles of trash are among the most shocking; it’s hard to understand how he’d successfully managed to escape city inspection.
Dale’s house is filled with things he accumulated and spent thousands of dollars on over the years. Although he bought them brand new, they have long since become unused garbage.
To make matters worse, he has no functioning utilities. Dale’s electricity and water have been cut off for years, and he’s been too embarrassed to call for help. Apparently, utility workers might judge him over his compulsive hoarding disorder.
So in the meantime, Dale’s been crashing at his trailer on his property. Unsurprisingly so, that trailer, too, is slowly rotting away.
His daughter-in-law fears he won’t be able to survive the Alaskan winter in a contraption that provides no more shelter than cardboard boxes.
Why was Dale a compulsive hoarder?
Dale probably hadn’t always been a serial collector, judging from the sheer shock seen in the face of his daughter Dee when asked to inspect Dale’s living conditions with the Hoarder team.
Dee had not been in Dale’s home for more than a decade and was concerned when she realized her dad was living with a pile of junk stacked from floor to ceiling. Why did Dale suddenly become a compulsive hoarder?
According to American Psychiatric Association, compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder usually associated with people who’ve suffered severe loss and try to fill the void by collecting items.
They find it hard to part ways with the possessions they have accumulated due to the intense need to save the items. In Dale’s case, this explanation holds true.
We learned that Dale suffered a painful split from his wife, and shortly after, she passed away.
In addition to the void from losing Dee’s mother, he described the most extensive loss he has suffered as that of his second daughter, who unfortunately took her own life.
What can the Hoarders team do for Dale?
Dale’s case was quite tricky, as some fans may recall. Apart from the severe health risk his hoarding had caused, the team needed to help him get the clutter chucked out before the Alaskan winter arrived, potentially threatening his life.
Therefore, the team comprising Robin Zasio, a licensed clinical psychologist, Corrie Chalmers, an extreme cleaning expert, and his family members came together to clean out the mess as quickly as possible.
However, Dale’s home had become a colossal hoard over the years, so they quickly realized they’d be needing more hands.
Seeing that Dale is an Army Veteran, they called in the Army, eager to assist. On the first day, the team was able to pull out over 15 tons of junk.
While working, they discovered the house had many structural issues that could easily cost thousands of dollars to fix. It turned out that it wasn’t safe to complete the extensive amount of cleaning they had hoped to accomplish – nor was it safe for Dale to move back in.
He began to feel that he didn’t gain anything from having the Hoarders team help him.
Nonetheless, not all was lost; the team managed to clean out a lot of junk from the yard and the house, as seen by the bags of trash they collected.
What happened to Dale after his Hoarders intervention?
As the episode wrapped up, we saw a glimpse of Dale’s newly cleaned home.
While much of the clutter had been done away with, there was still a long way to go before Dale could return to living in his home.
Apart from restoring his utilities, there was quite a lot of renovation that needed to be done. Thankfully, the Hoarder team cleaned out his yard, so renovators could now have easy access to his home.
We are uncertain whether Dale ever got around to the renovations. He has kept a really low profile after appearing on the show.
We know that he remains in Fairbanks, where he works. According to Cinemaholic, the notorious hoarder has a job as a safety officer at Larry’s.
It is unclear how long he’s been working there, but considering his military background, we believe Dale’s occupation serves as a great fit and that he’s doing quite well there.
Like us, we believe many fans are happy to hear he escaped the Alaskan winter unharmed and that he’s made some strides to get his life back on track.
Hoarders who weren’t as lucky as Dale
Unlike Dale, who had a success story with his clean-up project, there have been a few hoarders who had it worse than Dale.
For example, one episode featured a blind, elderly woman from New Mexico whose home was an animal hoard with 75 living and dead cats, with cat feces everywhere.
To top it off, the animals had drenched her carpets and furniture in urine.
The most tragic story has to be about the Collyer brothers who lived in Harlem in the 1940s.
While this is too long ago even to have been filmed for a show like A&E’s Hoarders, their story seems straight from a movie.
Homer Collyer had gone blind, and his younger brother, Langley, had to take care of him. Langley collected newspapers he piled in their house, hoping his brother would regain sight and read them one day.
He’d often go out to buy food for the two of them and set booby traps to ensure his brother was safe at home when he had left. Unfortunately, Langley himself got trapped in one of the devices and died. Shortly after, city officials found his brother Holmer. He had died of starvation.
While Hoarders is often criticized for oversimplifying that hoarding can be fixed by tossing things out, it’s clear the show remains a fan favorite.
Although A&E had canceled Hoarders in its sixth season, it returned for the seventh season and has been going strong ever since.
With its viewership looking good, we hope that the show also ensures that participants like Dale get better help dealing with the underlying issues causing them to be obsessed with their belongings in the first place.