“A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than it loves itself.”
By Sean Pearson
“Pecan” was just another student at Homer Middle School.
He didn’t have a locker or play an instrument, but he impacted the lives of hundreds of HMS students over the past 14 years.
He even got his picture in the school’s yearbook; twice.
“Pecan was a remarkable animal and the consummate ‘kid’ dog,” said Tim Daugharty, Pecan’s loyal companion and Homer Middle School P.E. teacher. “Every day at school, he would wait patiently in my truck for the kids to come outside for class, recess, or after-school practices. He would always greet every kid with a wagging tail and a good-natured bark of excitement.”
Pecan died on March 7, 2013, after battling cancer. His was a good life.
Not too bad for a guy who started out homeless in the dog shelter.
When the Daugharty family brought him home in the summer of 1999, he was eight weeks old and battling Parvo.
“Every day before work, I would take him to Ralph (Broshes) at the Homer Vet Clinic,” said Kim Greer, Tim’s spouse and Pecan’s tireless caregiver. “Ralph would keep him all day, giving him fluids and antibiotics until I picked him up after work.”
The young Lab was so sick, the family had to tether him to a kennel and put a tarp down for him. He slept alone in the mudroom, but often had some company.
“I would visit him in the night and talk to him to soothe him,” Kim said. “I lit candles and healing oils and played lullabys from a little cassette player. It was so hard watching him waste away.”
Things were touch-and-go for a while, but slowly, the small dog got better –and grew into a big, healthy dog.
“Pecan was special; we practically grew up together,” said Quinn Daugharty, son of Tim and Kim and junior at Homer High School. “He was very free and loyal and affectionate. He was the best dog anyone could ask for.”
Quinn’s sister, Piper,agreed.
On March 7, Kim fed Pecan his last meal.
“It was a meal fit for a king,” she said. “He drank some water and I helped him down the stairs and outside for his last short walk. When we came back inside, he wagged his tail and barked with love and enthusiasm.”
Kim said she had talked to Pecan a few days earlier about helping him move on.
“We lied on the living room floor as I cupped his sweet face in my hands and told him how much I enjoyed him in my life,” she said. “I told him how much I would miss him, and how I would be watching for him. I felt like he knew.”
Homer Veterinary Clinic staff arrived at the Daugharty home around 8:15 a.m. One of the young staff members knew Pecan from her days at HMS.
“They gave him a muscle relaxant so he wouldn’t be stressed out – and he wasn’t,” Kim said. “It was such a peaceful and loving environment for him to die in his own living room. It took only a couple minutes, if that, for him to calmly fall asleep.”
Kim said they sat there for a few “sad moments,” before putting him in the Suburban and driving him to Twin Cities Crematorium.
“I remember talking to him a lot while I drove,” she said. “It was comforting to have him in the car because he almost always went everywhere we went. When it was time to give him up in Kenai, I really struggled.”
With the help and comfort of a very kind stranger, Kim was able to let go of Pecan.
“I often feel his presence behind me when I’m snowshoeing or skiing,” she said. “I get a wonderful vision of him with his nose sniffing the air and the breeze blowing his ears back. He looks so free.”
Kim said she never thought about Pecan’s death until this last year. Then, it all came too fast.
“I miss taking care of him and hearing his very loud, happy bark – even though I often complained about it being so loud,” she said. “I miss how happy he was to see us when we returned from even a few hours in town.
And while I know he is still right there watching and following me around, I miss touching him and looking into his all-knowing eyes.”
Kim said she knew many kids, some now adult, who loved Pecan over the years. Tim agreed, adding that the biggest testament to Pecan’s life was his profound influence on kids.
“As I meet old students and we talk, they rarely ask how I am, or how the family’s doing,” he explained. “Their first question is always, “How is Pecan?”
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