Homer: Epilogue

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Last night we said goodbye to our beloved Homer.

People often say “Rest In Peace” when a loved one dies but that’s not how I’m thinking of Homer.  He’s at peace but he got enough of resting in his last couple of weeks.  So instead of Resting in Peace I’m sure he is Frolicking In Joy, chasing baseballs and snitching tacos off the counters of heaven, delighted at the return to vigorous activity.

We had many great moments with Homer, some of the most poignant ones within the past week. I know he felt loved by my almost constant presence, by sitting outside together, by sitting in the hospital together, by me sleeping beside him the last two nights.

me and homer reading comments (2)

Here is Homer, resting against me as I read the hundreds of beautiful stories people posted about their own beloved pets in response to my Loving Homer blog piece.  Story after story of love and pain and healing enough to do it all over again. Picture after picture of adorable dogs and horses and cats.  Reading the stories was so soothing to my raw heart, knowing how many people have felt exactly like I feel, and have not regretted it for a moment. Social media can be criticized for being a time suck or often superficial but one of its great uses is connection.  To find other people in a similar situation, to feel not alone in your experience, to feel close to and understood by other people, this is technology at its best.

Homer got extraordinary care, IV’s of fluid, medications to combat his GI bleed, three infusions of blood, three generous dogs and their owners (two of whom work at the hospital) doing their best to keep him going.

In the end, it wasn’t enough.

Who am I to decide how long a good life is?  Maybe he lived the exact right amount of time.  Maybe this was a perfect life for him, rescued from Taiwan, four years with a family who loved him.  Somehow we all get an idea of what is enough of a life.  But who is to say long is better?  Maybe a well lived shorter life can be perfect.

Each person in our family dealt differently with saying goodbye to Homer. There is not one right way to deal with a pet at the end of life and my husband and I wanted to make sure our children each did what was comfortable for him/herself.

Eventually it was just me sitting with Homer for that final step in the journey.

I sat with Homer’s head in my lap as Dr. Nurre injected first the anesthesia to make him sleepy, then the euthanasia meds.  He slid his stethoscope under Homers chest and we sat in silence, tears running down my face, until he softly said, “his heart has stopped.”

And then I sat alone with Homer until I knew it was really just the form of Homer left, knew that Homer’s soul was not in this body anymore.  I’m typing this through blurry eyes because I am still crying.

But I know this. Homer doesn’t have to be here for my love to go on. He was here and he was loved and that doesn’t have to end. Even though he is not actually lying beside me while I type anymore, I will never stop loving Homer.

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Frolic In Joy, sweet Homer
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27 thoughts on “Homer: Epilogue

  1. Frank Somerville posted your write-up last week…this is the heart-breaking, but natural conclusion. It’s a beautiful send-off for a beautiful friend.
    A grandfather figure in my life, said something many, many years ago, when I buried my first dog. It was the first time I’d seen my father cry. When Harry visited a couple of days later, I still couldn’t talk about it without sobbing. He wrapped his big old arms across my heaving shoulders and said “There’s one really shitty day in having a dog…and it’s a pretty goddamn good trade.” Powerful words from a duck hunter, and an owner of some of the best hunting Black Labs I’ve ever known.
    That was nearly 50 years ago. I’ve loved, and lost, a whole lot of dogs in the intervening years…and yes, it’s always been a really shitty day. BUT, it is so incredibly worth it. It has ALWAYS been a good trade. And I keep coming back for more.
    Mourn. Mourn as long as you need to. Then, when you’re ready, pay forward the loving relationship that you had…by adopting, by rescuing, however works for you. There are so many that are lost…and I’m sure that Homer would want you to pay it forward.

    Thanks for your story. I cried reading it. For Homer, For you. For me. And for all of us that have been lucky enough to have a relationship with a dog. There’s not much in my life that I value more…

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    • Thank you – I think I actually read your comments on Frank’s page and really love the idea of the one shitty day. So so so true! It’s hard to express how I can be so sad and yet still so grateful at the same time for all the time we did get with Homer. And I have no doubt, after my heart heals, that we will rescue again (this was our second rescued Golden, the first one broke my heart too). Thank you for your comments and wisdom

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      • We lost our American Bulldog a couple of months ago… cancer, at 10 years old. Brutal – as it always is. And I’ve got to admit, having two other dogs makes that transition so much easier for me…they are the very best possible consolation. My wife and i were talking after, and realizing that we’ve had 4 dogs for most of the last 10 years. We had one of our sons’ dogs…and she went to live with him, after he completed deployment. Then we lost our AB…and now there are two.
        For about 40 years now, I’ve always gone looking for a new dog every 5 or 6 years. The youngsters re-invigorate the old-timers…and the old man teaches the new kid manners! It’s perfect… And when you hit that hard day…the dogs “get it”… They may not understand as completely as we do…but maybe they’re luckier in that respect.
        I still look up, half expecting to see Django walk out the front door, or nose one of the cats that he loved… and at the same time, I’m looking… we’ve got room for more dogs… maybe one, maybe two, maybe more…? I know that he wouldn’t have it any other way!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I have considered that having more than one dog at a time would really help in these situations. Might have to go that route next time around.

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  2. Thank you for letting us know of Homer’s last days. He was loved beyond measure, I have no doubt. And in time, I also know another dog will share in what Homer and the others before him, had. Blessed are the people who’s heart is ever expanding, allowing it to share with yet another. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for caring about our story. I can’t believe how much love and support I feel from so many people I’ve never even met. It’s brought a whole extra layer of love to this experience

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When we had to go through this with Zen a couple of years ago, my heart broke. Eventually my daughter in law talked us into this adorable little rescue mutt and yes. We’re doing it again. You already know it’s worth it. Now, so do I. Hugs to all of you. Homer was a lucky, lucky dog. I just don’t know how you’ll ever come up with a better name. 😉

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  4. I knew this was going to be hard to read but I made myself because I loved Homer too, even though our time together was short. Homer was easy to love, you could see in his eyes and smile that he enjoyed people. The hardest part in having a pet is going through your journey in his last days. I still miss Bailey so much, and keep her collar under my pillow. My heart goes out to you, Homer was so lucky to have you for his “Mom”!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  5. Ohh my 😢 why did i have to read this now?? Today is exactly one month since i myseld had to make this very difficult decisions to end my fur baby’s life. I miss him so much and i pray that like your Homer my Koko felt the love our whole family had for him. We will see Homer and Koko again ..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynnre, I so completely understand the entire range of emotions that you and your family are having. Our Max left us 8 years ago and we still have or “Max Moments”! We will see something that reminds us of him and often weep with a pain as great as the day he died. Our Golden Max was not just a dog, he was my best buddy. My picture is prominent on his desk and I still think of him pretty much every day. I am sure that you will remember Homer as we do Max. Here is a big hug!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Lynn, Thank you for your poignant and heart warming writing. You put your feelings into words so well! We went through this with our “Shadow” also and I really loved the way you described holding Homer in his last moments. I did the same and I would have it no other way even though it was one of the most difficult times ever. It is such an unreal feeling that we have to make that life-altering decision. But again , I appreciate your heart-felt words and send my condolences to you and your family.Homer and his sweet memory will be with you forever!!!

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    • Thank you, it is so heart warming to hear other people’s stories. That moment at the end is just so emotional! But like you I would have had it no other way

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  8. So fate had me click on the Love What Matters post and then found me here. Divine providence, as I have spent the night wincing as my guy Bogie (a 13 yr old lab/shepherd mix) keeps falling as his back legs slip out from under him. He has had severe hip dysplasia since he was 2. And the last year it has really shown its ugly side. Bogie has weathered the storm and is in great health except for that damn issue. I sit here crying over your beautiful words, and love love love ‘the one shitty day” thought. I just dropped my youngest child off for her second year of college, and have been telling Bogie that I demand another 2 years from him. In reality I know we will have to make decisions that will break our hearts. Thank you for your previous post and for this one – I am reminded of why we keep going back to the well, digging deep,and bringing new puppies home : )

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    • Thank you for telling me about Bogie. My heart is with you as you watch him struggle. it is just so painful, and yet so worth it! My heart is still broken missing Homer and yet it feels open enough to consider a new dog (have chance to adopt one at end of September) . Enjoy every moment with Bogie! I’ll bet he’s amazing. Thank you for being a member of this tribe of dog lovers – and for letting me know about your Bogie.

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  9. I too have lost many pets. This is a poem I found that sums it up as well as you did:
    We who choose to surround ourselves
    with lives even more temporary
    than our own, live within a fragile
    circle, easily and often breached.
     Unable to accept its awful gaps,
    we still would live no other way.
    We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,
    never fully understanding the necessary plan.
    From “The Once Again Prince” by Irving Townsend
    I think pet owners have the depth of love that we could use in the world, we take the risk of loss even before we love. Thanks for your beautiful blog and what a special and wonderful life Homer had~

    Liked by 1 person

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