My brother and his family had to say goodbye to their dear friend Homer yesterday. Homer’s birthday was yesterday, too. He was 14 years old. Homer was a German Shepherd Dog/Alaskan Husky mix, who really and truly thought he was a small dog. They rescued him from the Humane Society in early 1992, and the fact that he had been abused before they got him was obvious. He was terrified of doorways, and would NOT walk through them. So every time he went outside or back inside for the first year of living with them, he had to be carried.
But he was a very gentle dog, if not a little bouncy. He survived the babyhoods of three little girls, many, many camping trips, and most of all, he survived the roughness of my brother. Pete is a great guy, but he roughhouses with his dogs.
Homer knew he was very well loved. By all of us. If no one was paying attention to him, he’d make this plaintive little whining sound. And if you mimicked it, he’d whine himself into a whiny hysteria. I did this often. And then I’d go love on him and give him a Milkbone and all would be well in the World Of Homer.
As a GSD/Husky mix, he was a double-coated nightmare, and he shed unlike any dog I’ve ever seen. FAR worse than our collies put together. You could sit and pluck at Homer for hours and still not get all the loose little tufties of hair that would peek out from his coat.
14 years old is a long time for a dog that size, and my brother and his family knew that Homer’s days were running out. On Friday he had a stroke which rendered the right side of his body essentially paralyzed. Once again, Pete was having to carry the dog outside and back inside, only this time he had to help Homer stand up to go to the bathroom. If Homer tried to walk, he could only move in circles because only his left legs were functional.
So Saturday morning, Pete and Valerie and the family said their goodbyes to their beloved family pet, and went to the vet’s office to let Homer have peace. Pete left the office with only Homer’s collar, rather than upset his daughters with the sight of a non-moving dog. They will have a memorial service in the back yard tomorrow, and honor Homer and the joys that he brought to their family.
My heart breaks for them tonight.