Loving mutt wins the hearts of Middle School Huskies

“A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than it loves itself.”
By Sean Pearson
Homer Tribune

“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.

Pecan lived a long life and contributed greatly to his family and students at Homer Middle School. Photo provided

“He was a great dog growing up,” she said. “He let us tackle him, and I think Quinn even tried to ride him a few times.”
The family often speculated about Pecan’s “ethnicity.”
“We thought he might be a mix of Chesapeake and Rhodesian Ridgeback, and there was probably some yellow Lab in there,” Piper said. “But we never knew for sure. He was a mutt through and through.”
Piper said she came up with his name when she was nine.
“I named him Pecan because of his reddish color,” she said. “Dad (and friends) called him Parvo because of his near-death experience at such an early age.”
Luckily, the name Pecan is the one that would stick.
Pecan refused to stay home anytime, but especially when school was in session.
“Every morning, after we fed him, he would go outside, open the back sliding window of my truck and be sitting in the passenger seat when I came out,” Tim recalled. “If he did get left at home, he would go all over the neighborhood, collect everyone’s newspaper and leave them on our porch out of vindictiveness.”
Pecan loved kids and would occasionally entertain the seventh and eighth graders by confiscating their “unattended” lunches while they were busy in P.E.
“Whatever games we played, Pecan played too,” Tim said. “Chasing balls, running down Frisbees, playing tag or just being a pillow for a student who wanted to bask in the sun, were all activities in which he excelled. And during baseball practice, he was our best shortstop.”
In treeing black bears and saving the day, Pecan’s loyalty was never really tested, but his protective instincts were.
“I will never forget how Pecan once scared an entire family of black bears up a scrawny spruce tree,” Quinn said. “It was very impressive how brave he was.”
The family had never seen him so fierce and protective.
“He was the sweetest dog, until he thought any of us were in danger,” Piper said. “When he took off into the woods, we could hear his angry bark and snarl through the trees. The bears were obviously freaked out, but Pecan wouldn’t let up. My dad had to drive through the brush and throw Pecan in the truck so the bears could get away.”
Kim recalled a situation last March when Quinn and Tim were out of town, and she had to battle an early morning snowstorm in the dark.
“I was bundled up with a headlamp, backpack and ski poles as I trekked the 150 yards to my car at 6:30 a.m.,” she said. “I told Pecan to stay in the shed, and he reluctantly obeyed – as usual.”
The next thing Kim knew, she couldn’t see a foot in front of her and was in snow up to her hips.
“I looked up and saw Pecan up ahead. He was turning back to look at me headed in the wrong direction,” she said. “I could almost hear him say, ‘Come this way silly, you’re off the path.’“
Trusting him, Kim followed Pecan and discovered she was a good 20 feet away from the driveway; walking east instead of north.
“I know I wouldn’t have died out there, but it was wonderful how Pecan sensed my dilemma even before I did,” she said. “And he came to my rescue.”

Saying goodbye
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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Posted by on Apr 10th, 2013 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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