Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homer 05/01/1999 - 02/20/2010

Saturday evening Homer, our yellow lab, our ever loyal companion, was euthanized.  The back injury that he suffered only three weeks earlier had progressed to the point that he could hardly stand on his own. Saturday night, when we took him out to do his business, he collapsed while squatting (He was male but he always squated while in our yard).  After the Wife got him back on his feet, he took a couple steps before his front legs gave out and he face planted  in the snow.  It was the saddest thing I'd ever seen.  After the Wife talked to a veterinarian friend (The Loon Whisperer's husband) who was brutally honest - exactly what we needed at the time - we took Homer to the Emergency Animal Clinic and, after saying our goodbyes, he was peaceful sent on his way.

We picked up Homer in 1999.  He was my third dog and the Wife's first.  We got him at a breeder who specialized in Labrador Retrievers.  The litter was 5 or 6 males and a female if I remember right.  We had the pick of the litter.  We went there a few weeks after he was born.  The litter poured out of the dog house to check us out.  As we played with the puppies, one after the other, the puppies would break off and head back into the dog house.  Eventually only one was left.  That was our Homer.

We would check with the breeder every week or so to check on his progress and to arrange a time for us to pick him up.  The breeder told my Wife that Homer "had a lot of character."  We wondered what that meant and the breeder said that he looked at you when you talked to him.  After we'd had him for a while I think we learned what "a lot of character" was.  It's what made Homer special.

Homer grew up fast, like most dogs do.  He was 16 pounds when we brought him home in early July.  By September he was over 40 pounds.  He eventually maxed out in the 80s.  I remember laying on the floor with Homer on one side of me and a toy on the other and poor Homer could not manage to climb over me.  He was so tiny.

We had him sleep in our guest bathroom.  He had a dog pillow and, if he had an accident, it wouldn't be hard to clean up. (He never did ).  The first night we'd just turned of the light and, after whining a bit he calmed down.  A few minutes later we heard a Boing-Boing sound coming from the bathroom.  Homer had found the spring door stop and was pulling at it.  When we had our first guests stay over we needed to find a place for Homer.  The first night we took him into our bedroom, he jumped up on the bed, and, like the perfect dog that he was, laid down and fell asleep.  He slept with us in our bed from that point on.

Homer was a fast learner - faster than we were I think.  He learned tricks quickly.  He learned to behave like the perfect dog at obedience school and like a crazy child when he was home.  He learned what a treat was and, soon after that, how to spell T-R-E-A-T.  We spoiled him with toys and he learned the name of every one.  We often entertained guests having Homer go to his basket and bringing any toy we asked for.

Labs are social animals and Homer was a prime example of this.  He was always with you as you walked around the house.  If you went to another room, Homer would follow.  You were never alone with Homer in the house.  He also was very fair trying to split his time between the Wife and me.  At times he would find the spot in the house that was half way between us and that's where he would lay down.

The Wife was the prime motivator behind us getting Homer.  I wasn't sure.  I thought he might tie us down.  Of course, after we got Homer he latched on to me (and I latched on to him).  While he was fair most of the time, I was the one he look up to, so to speak.  Many times the Wife would ask Homer something and Homer would look at me as if I had asked the question.  It was so blatant that it was almost funny but I'm sure it was frustrating to the Wife.

Homer was a loyal companion.  He took the move to Omaha in stride.  He was unsure for the first few months but he soon got used to his new home.  He saw his first snow.  To our surprise it didn't phase him at all.  This was amazing when you think of all the things he was weird about.  He would leave the room when we started playing a DVD and would inevitably return when the credits were rolling.  He didn't like the fireplace because of the tick tick ticking sound the expanding firebox made as it heated up and cooled down.  He was wary of the dogs that lived in our kitchen - he saw his reflection in the front of the stove and dishwasher.  He didn't like tile/hardwood floors.  He would move from carpet to rug, often taking the long way around to avoid the tile floor.  We often called him a freak but eccentric would have been a better description.

Everything went well until about a month ago.  I won't talk about what happened as I've already mentioned it in a couple of posts here and here.  What we had to do on Saturday night was the hardest thing we've ever had to do but it was also the most right.  Since then I have gone through the whole gamut of emotions.  Guilt: I should have walked him more.  I should have played with him more.  We should never had let him sleep on our bed.  It goes on and on in my head.  Happy: when I think of the good times we had.  I laugh when I remember how he would come up behind you and stick his head between your legs with his ball.  I smile remembering how, even as an old dog, he would pounce on his ball like a puppy.  Sad: I cry as I catch myself expecting to see Homer behind me.  I look around the room, a room eerily quiet without the sound of his jingling tags, and I imagine where he would be if he was still with us.  It's amazing how much space a dog takes up - you don't notice it until he is gone and the house suddenly becomes empty and hollow.

People, with good intentions, have suggested we should get another dog.  I don't think I'm ready for that yet.  Maybe in a year or two I might think differently, but not now.  For now I just want to keep him in my memories.  

I have uploaded some pictures to my 2000-2010 Homer Google Photos album.  I didn't have very many pictures of Homer because he would always bark when you covered your face.  Not sure how he learned that habit.

Unfortunately, this post doesn't do Homer justice.  I just don't have the words.

I often listen to music when I draft posts.  The first song that came up on shuffle play when I started this post made the drafting a little more difficult and brought some tears to my eyes.  It was "When I'm Gone" by 3 Doors Down.  I think the chorus of that song is the best way to end this post:

So hold me when I'm here
Right me when I'm wrong
Hold me when I'm scared
And love me when I'm gone
Everything I am
And everything in me
Wants to be the one
You wanted me to be
I'll never let you down
Even if I could
I'd give up everything
If only for your good
So hold me when I'm here
Right me when I'm wrong
You can hold me when I'm scared
You won't always be there
So love me when I'm gone


May 1, 1999 - February 20, 2010

Homer

aka Homer-Dog, Pokey, Pokey-Dog, Monkey, Monkey-Dog, Sweety, Sweety-puss
He answered to them all.

He will be missed.

9 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear this. It's a tough decision to make to say farewell to a companion like Homer..

    I don't know if you follow Coyote Crossing but I found this post very touching and perhaps it will connect here: http://faultline.org/index.php/site/item/how_will_i_know_when_its_time/

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  2. Here are some photos of Homer that I took in November of 2008: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=homer&w=92238542%40N00

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  3. I'm so sorry about Homer and the difficult decision you had to make. This was a beautiful post about him! Thank you so much for sharing this; I laughed and had tears in my eyes all at once.

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  4. I know this was such a hard decision for you, but you are right, it was the best one. Thanks for sharing ... hugs to you both! Hubby says the same thing, as he's seen people try to prolong the pain and suffering the dog is in only to make them feel better.

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  5. Beautifully written.

    I was only lucky enough to meet Homer once, and I remember how he would follow you around, the constant companion. He may have departed from this existence, but he'll be by your side forever.

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  6. Thank you for sharing a bit of Homer with us; beautiful words for a special companion.

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  7. Everyone: Thank you for you kind comments. Reading them has made the Wife and I a little happier.

    After I posted I've remember so many things that I intended to include. I always do this, edit posts ex-post-facto. If I'd included everything the post would have been twice as long and still not complete. Therefore, I've decided to leave the post as is and to not post anymore about out poor Homer.

    One thing I've thought about is changing my nom de plume. After considering it for a couple days, I've decided to keep posting as Homer-Dog as a type of memorial.

    Thanks again for all of your thoughts, prayers, and hugs.

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  8. We are sorry to read of your loss. Mr. H remarked that he was a gentle dog. He was one dog that I could like. It seemed like he was not around, except when a person called his name.
    Mr.& Mrs. H M-town

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  9. Thanks Mr. & Mrs. H. Oh, and happy birthday Mrs. H.!

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