Apr 01

My friend Homer.

Since I was a boy, I’ve had dogs in my home. As a child it was common to find stray dogs or for neighbors to have a litter of pups that they gave away. Most of these dogs were mutts and I knew little about training as a youngster. Later in life, I took an interest in various breeds of dogs, for hunting, companionship and home protection. Of all the dogs I have owned, the German Shepard breed always proved to be the most intelligent. A close second would be the Doberman Pincher. As a personal preference, I found that the female German Shepard had a tendency to be a little flighty. So a male GSD is preferable. By contrast, with the Doberman the males tend to be a bit too boisterous and the females are a bit more easily managed. The females also have a stronger protection instinct and this makes them great protectors in the home of a competent handler.

It has been almost 3 years since the passing of my dog Homer. I have shared with many readers the fact that Homer was the very best dog I have ever had. When my ex-wife whelped the first litter of pups from her girl, Lily, we did not intend to keep any of them.

Homer On His Odyssey

Homer On His Odyssey

The black ball of fur that we named Homer was very attached to me. He chose me and that is a rare thing. Every time I would go to feed or water the puppies, Homer would scurry directly to my feet and sit there looking up as if asking how he could serve me. Such a wonderful feeling. So, we decided to keep the little guy and soon he had grown to a whopping 95 pounds of sweet affection and undying devotion.

Homer and his litter-mates came from exceptionally good stock with New Skete lines on his mothers side.

*

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem titled, The Power of the Dog. In it he describes with great accuracy the connection between man and canine. He also poignantly explains how that connection can bring sorrow.

The Power of the Dog

by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years that nature permits
Are closing in asthma or tumors or fits
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers, or loaded guns.
Then you will find–its your own affair
But–you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You still discover how much you care
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em the more do we grieve;
For when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short time loan is as bad as a long–
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

***

Recently, I happened to stumble into a newspaper advert from a breeder who had 2 puppies for sale. I thought about it. I will never get over the tragic loss of Homer at such a young age and I know I will never have another dog that could match his intelligence and willingness to serve. The bond Homer and I shared was a once in a lifetime relationship.

I thought I might be ready to get another puppy to train as companion and protector of my home. I took the time to contact the breeder and she seemed knowledgeable. She had two red, Doberman Pincher pups. The tails had been docked, ears cropped and dew claws removed. Those 3 medical procedures are costly. My preference would be to not bother with cropping the ears. That is mainly for showing the breed and I have no interest in dog shows. I think the Doberman looks less vicious with his naturally floppy-hound ears. In fact, many people don’t even recognize a Doberman with un-cropped ears. Regardless of my personal preference on ears, this breeder had invested some amount of money to have all these procedures done early. They wanted $1,000 for each pup, though they were motivated to sell the last two litter mates and would probably take less money. It was over an hour to drive there just to look at them.

Springtime is a good time to get a new puppy. House training is easier as the weather warms and the basic obedience skills can be taught over the course of the summer months.

Well, that was a couple of weeks ago. I considered it but I just have too much going on to handle a puppy right now. Maybe next year…..

 

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2 comments

    • May on September 24, 2014 at 10:32 pm
    • Reply

    I’m touched by your story with Homer. And this article reminds me to think of my dog “big black”. We’re so lucky we both had a wonderful dog and a deep nice memory with our dog friends . That’s enough.
    Dogs are loyal and clever. In my mind,kind persons deserve to have good dog. So, I believe you and me would have another lovely dog one day!

    1. Nice comment, May.
      Thank you.

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