22 Words

A dying man’s last wish: To see his dog

Jun 20, 2011 By Abraham 114

From KCRG

Yurt used to live with a homeless Cedar Rapids man, 57-year-old Kevin McClain, in his car. But a month ago he became ill with lung cancer.

Paramedics rushed him to Mercy Medical Center and later to Hospice House. Yurt went to the animal shelter.

“In the transition of moving him over from our ambulance cot to the bed, he told me, ‘I have a dog,’” said Area Ambulance Service Paramedic Specialist Jan Erceg.…

From the day Yurt and Kevin were separated, he asked to see her.…

(via Bag of Nothing)

114 Comments

    1. smengman says:

      my dog just past from me after 16 years of being my absolute best and most loved friend on this planet,surely life can never be the same without him i’m actualy worse-off now than when my earthly father past.,my baby boy past from me august 15,-11 days after his birthday&6 days after mine i just thought that same thing very nearly to the letter, about those pix,thank you for being out there& for the beutiful words about that man and his dog., i wish the best for both and every possible moment of time together, i know every second is cherished by both.,and thank you for reading this,anyone who does,and great luck and health&longt life to you&your pets!,sincerley,smengman.

      1. smengman says:

        i’ve never done much usefull on the web so i’m not to exp., have never once chatted i don’t evan text, if someone sends me 1 my answ. is always the same{you have a phone in your hand,call me.},i wouldn’t know a page or a site from facebook or twitter if i were looking at one,point is,i just wanted it known that in my reply i was refering to the coment from jess, didn’t realize that a reply to a coment would list as just another coment,so thanx again.

        1. mlaing15 says:

          i hope you realize you gave me a new outlook on people. lately ive been wondering if people can be as attached to a dog as i was. between the ages of 5-21 my dog was in my life. i loved him so much. had like 100 nicknames for him, I took him to the dog park every day once i turned 16. one time when i was crying my dog started crying back at me. he jumped up on the couch then took his nose and put it under my chin then popped it upwards and started licking me. My point is that i was very attached to him and once he past i felt like a part of me was gone. i know ill move on and such but i dont think i could ever own another dog because i was so in love with mine. idk there might be people like me out there but who knows.

          1. juju says:

            Yes there are others like you. I live among people who are very cruel to animals. My little dog, I had for 7 years until he was murdered. He was hit on the head, I’m sure that’s how it happened. They snuck upon him and killed him, then threw his little body on the side of myhouse. It’s cruel to think of him being treated this way. GOD will repay them. He was small and mean, but he was loyal to me and I willmiss him for all time. The look on that dog’s face is one of absolute love and peace.

          2. Casey says:

            Bunny,

            There is a sweet and terrible irony in your comment, especially in light of this one: “Humans are animals and meat is murder. end of story.”

          3. maureen says:

            The way feel about people not wanting to get another dog after the pain of losing one is this; how abut giving one those dogs that needs a home and has so much love to give a chance. After all it is a matter of life and death for most of them.

          4. Bridget says:

            A Dog’s Legacy

            Author unknown

            When humans die, they make a will

            To leave their homes and all they have

            To those they love.

            I, too, would make a will if I could write.

            To some poor wistful lonely stray

            I leave my happy home,

            My dish, my cosy bed, my cushioned chair, my toy,

            The well loved lap, the gently stroking hand,

            The loving voice,

            The place I made in someone’s heart,

            The love, that at the last could help me to

            A peaceful painless end

            Held in loving arms.

            If I should die Oh do not say,

            “No more a pet I’ll have

            To grieve me by its loss”

            Seek out some lonely, unloved dog

            And give my place to him.

            This is my legacy I leave behind

            ‘Tis all I have to give.

  1. Kimberly says:

    I’m so glad the hospital (or Hospice) let his dog come into the room with him. I hope someone adopted that dog if the man didn’t survive.

    1. Alyssa says:

      Well he most likely didnt :’( because a hospice isnt a hospital its a place for terminally ill people that wont ever leave the place.

  2. Brittany says:

    My cousin and his wife adopted Yurtie. They didn’t know her full story until after they got her. KCRG’s website has a video link that includes their part.

    1. Heidi says:

      Brittany, On behalf of those of us in the world who have dedicated our lives to rescue, please thank your cousin and his wife for me. It’s a beautiful thing. God bless.

    2. Rosie says:

      Beautiful story. My heart goes out to the people who adopted the dog and the hospice for letting the man visit his dog one more time.

  3. Lisa says:

    Thanks Brittany for letting us know Yurtie was adopted by a great couple. What love is in those pictures … R.I.P. Kevin, God Bless You

    1. Mary says:

      Me too, Annie. I’m a mess right now. It’s so touching and so sad, but I’m still glad to see that Kevin was able to see the dog for one last time.

  4. Toni says:

    This brought a tear to my eye and reminded me of when my husband was in the hospice center. They allowed us to have our dog there and it made all the difference in the world. God bless Hospice and the Angels that volunteer there.

  5. Heidi says:

    I’m sure this poor man died in peace with his loving next to him. There are a lot of angels in this world!

  6. WH says:

    I can’t people want to know what happened to the dog. The fact that the only nice room a homeless person gets to see is the room where their deathbed awaits is kind of getting to me. But of course all of you will think, “Oh god, here comes the whole social justice rant, yada yada yada…”.
    The image is striking and the story is beautiful, but in the end you have to look at yourself and see that you’ll press the “like” button, forget about the issue of homelessness and keep on with your lives thinking you couldn’t have done anything about it. All you care about is the dog, what’s wrong with that?!!!

    1. xaz says:

      I thought the same thing when I first saw the pictures. It occurred to me that this was probably the nicest bed that man had lay in for quite a few years and he most likely only got to experience it for a short time depending on how advanced his cancer was. The love between he and his dog was a beautiful thing, and obviously there is a part of me that wants to make sure his dog has a life after her owner’s death, but at the end of the day one has to make note that a man died only a short time after experiencing shelter.

    2. Wade says:

      So just because people didn’t mention the man, we aren’t allowed to wonder what happened to the dog? Homelessness is heartbreaking. All we can do is try to help – but this man passed away and it’s not a horrible thing to wonder if the dog survived (and fortunately, he did, and was adopted).

      That’s the neat thing about humans – we have the ability to care about more than one thing at a time.

    3. Wade says:

      Besides which – the man was allowed to die in a hospice center instead of on the street. That takes a bit of compassion in itself.

    4. Mu says:

      Homelessness sucks. Cancer sucks. This story is beautiful. Both man and dog could have died alone and forgotten on the streets. Compassion for one doesn’t preclude compassion for the other.

      1. vesey says:

        Well said MU. He passed cared for and so eventually will Yurtie. A small victory for humanity but a victory all the same………

        1. jschritz says:

          I look for moments like this as hope for all of us. Sometimes it seems few and far between, but when I find them, I’m greatly encouraged.

    5. Yeah says:

      Sounds like you are reading too much in to the issue. Who are you to judge and say that nobody else here has any deeper thoughts than you? But when it comes down to it the story is about a man and his dog and that’s what people are commenting on. It’s not meant to be a place for people to rant about social inequalities and so forth. It’s just meant to be a nice story and then you start complaining about how people aren’t commenting on the right subjects. Yeah, very touching tribute to his memory.

    6. teresa says:

      the picture is one of LOVE, pure and simple. the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE between a MAN and his DOG. I see a gentle kiss to his owner and a beautiful smile one this amazing dogs face as he lays with his best friend in the world. i hope i get to be this lucky. xoxo

  7. Monoke says:

    Oh my god! I’m from Cedar Rapids! We never heard about any of this on the local news! Beautiful story but I’m appalled that the local news didn’t cover this story!

    1. Kelci says:

      Obviously it *was* covered by local news, since KCRG is a Cedar Rapids news source. I found it on the website. It looks like it aired on June 16.

    2. Tina says:

      It was covered. And it was brought up again on KCRG in the last few months when they did a spot light on Jan Erceg, EMT who helped transfer Kevin and is now the forever home for Yurt. The feel good stories don’t get as much attention as the horrific ones unfortunately, but they are out there.

      You can see many more pictures and read about his story from his rescuer and now mom Jan on our website. http://crittercrusaderscr.com/2012site/2011.html

  8. Amber says:

    This is so beautiful, but also heartbreaking. It makes me cry and realize that the world needs animals. <3

  9. allan says:

    This is a beautiful example of unconditional love. The dog never judged the homeless man, never questioned what can he give me; or why didn’t he achieve more in life. I work as an RN and I see many people die, One of the saddest things I see is someone dying alone. Many people even those with family lie in a bed at a hospital, hospice or wherever they happen to fall. Time after time I see them dying alone. It takes no special training just a heart of compassion, go to your hospital offer to set a few hours, over night. give whatever you can give. Talk to the dying, read to them, pray with them, just sit with them. You can talk, or hold their hand. Just let them know someone is there with them. NO ONE deserves to die alone.

    1. Jean D'Arc says:

      I feel afraid to do that because I think the hospice or hospital will view me with suspicion. However, I look at that “feeling” and see that the fear isn’t important. It’s what I could do. There are 3 very large hospitals in Northern Virginia. I’ll call the one closest to me tomorrow. Love the dawgie and feel for the man.

  10. federico says:

    man…I’m reading this stoned right now…I’m pretty friggin sad for this guy, this totally messed with my vibe

  11. xvii says:

    I was saddened by this to begin with then I thought… How beautiful our dogs -are- family members and they offer us unconditional love who wouldn’t want to be with their precious dogs at the time of their passing… Such love.

  12. Duane Geiler says:

    I have Just one thing to say “Way to go” Cedar Rapids Hospice House for letting his dog stay with him. Hospice is the most wonderful place. They have taken care of my, Father, Mother and Uncle in their time of need. I have one last thing to say, my wife works for Hospice & Palliative Care Hendersonville NC.

    1. tamara serapio says:

      i agree. hospice is amazing. i’m a nursing student in asheville!! i loved my clinicals with Carepartners, an end-of-life care center. amazing staff, so caring and patient-focused. i’m sure your wife is an amazing woman to be in that field.

      1. HeatherWC says:

        I know this is an old story, but my father in law died this summer. He was feeling bad and my husband took him to the ER. It took about 8 days to get the diagnosis. Stage 4 liver, lung and lymph node cancer. Drs said he had 2 days to 2 weeks. He made it 4 days. His last day, he was taken to hospice in Dobson, NC. He died 12 hours later. Hospice was such a comforting place. We have a huge family, and there was plenty of room for everyone, and a little movie theatre room, a snack bar. My FIL was not really awake, but the whole family was comforted that he died in such a warm, friendly place rather than a cold hospital room. So thank you to all hospice workers!
        About the story, I’m crying and can’t stop. You can SEE in those pics how much they loved each other. I read in the ABC news article that when the police found the homeless man, he was living in his car and could not take care of himself and looked horrible. But the dog was healthy, well-groomed and fed. There is nothing in this world like the love of a dog. I’m SO glad he got to be with his best friend and have him lie on the bed with him before he died. We should all be so lucky to have that kind of love when we are going.

  13. crystal says:

    mans best friend i’m sure that dog will always be waiting for him! the sad thing is he was probably a good guy that didn’t deserve to be homeless and our government could give a hoot. maybe they will reunite on the other side :)

  14. gerri says:

    I don’t think the picture was artfully taken to represent a homeless man or his dog. I think the picture represents true love and friendship. The man knowing that he is facing his maker, is consoling himself with his true best friend AND the dog is truly consoling HIS best friend. He know this gentleman is sick, very. Dogs can sense this. I thick this picture dispays, love, kindness, and companionship at its best!!!

  15. Ann says:

    We all need to appreciate life and what we each have. It may not be much, but for those like this homeless gentleman and his dog-its everything.

    What did you do today to show appreciation for life and those you love and care about? Time in life is limited for us all.

  16. Lee says:

    There’s no more faithfull love than an animal….I know from cats or dogs who die when their oweners die too

  17. Masheli says:

    This made me tear up. I know if I were dying I’d want my dog with me. I mean, what is having a dog in my room really going to do that’s any worse than DYING?

    1. Kathleen says:

      I would want my dogs with me also. What a wonderful little girl she was for this man. I hope they see each other again.

  18. Mike says:

    I love animals, absolutely love them. But reading a lot of these comments about the dog getting adopted (which I truly hope she did) makes me really sad for this man. We should do everything we can to help animals in our society…but when the well being of a dog comes before even a single thought of a man dying a long painful death, after a life of homelessness, it kind of makes me think. We think our days are stressful… I know I personally can not begin to understand the struggle a man or woman in this position would have every single day.

    But you are all right, its not an animal that this story is about. Its the relationship as real as any human to human soul mate. Today I am thankful for the fact I drive my car to work, and not have to sleep it in, no matter if its alone or with a best friend.

    1. Savvy says:

      Go crawl into a hole scotts. He is (was) 57 years old. I would bet any amount of money that he had a good life at one point. I can’t imagine that the paltry amount of money he would get by selling his watch (which probably has sentimental value) would make any dent in either medical bills or something such as rent. So let him keep his watch in the last moments of his life.

  19. mark says:

    My dog has been so much a part of my family that I don’t think but I know we would all risk our lives to save her if need be, this touched me so much because I know just how much you can love your pets. My dog just had surgery and is very old so we don’t know how long she has to live and I was thinking of losing her while reading this and I teared up, and I almost never cry about anything. Please people treat your animals with respect and care, they are living creatures and they deserve to be loved and cared for just like you do. Nothing makes me more sad than seeing abused animals and this story is very beautiful and I hope we can all learn from it.

  20. Fiz says:

    Really teary at this. Well done to Brittany for adopting that lovely dog and great of the hospital to allow it in!

  21. jms says:

    We just lost our beautiful loving mastiff and I know how some of you feel. The pain I feel is horrible. I’ll miss her for the rest of my life.

  22. adelle christmas says:

    there should be an Animals in need aswell as children in need theres not alot of things going on about animals needs it all seems to be people charities and people in need.

  23. Peggy says:

    How very sad and to think that he might have had a family somewhere and they don’t even know where he has been all this time. Now, its too late. Love the picture of the one and only friend he had. Beautiful dog. I hope somebody adopts her.

  24. Deniese Carter Palmer says:

    the love of an animal is like no other..doesn’t judge..complain..talk back they only want to be loved and accepted…I could not think of my life without all my creatures I have…and I wouldn’t trade any of then for the world….:)

  25. Di says:

    When my partner was dying he asked for a can of lager. The nurse went out and got him one and we helped him drink it. He died that day, but he died happy.

  26. jane says:

    Wondered happened to the sweet animal after his loved one died. I am glad they were able to comfort eachother.

      1. Roger says:

        Thanks for posting the link to the follow-up story about the dog being adopted. A lot of people were wondering about that, myself included. It’s a sad and heartwarming story, but I’m sure having his dog next to him in his final moments brought peace to his heart.

        I’m thankful for people like paramedic Jan Erceg who was sensitive enough to the patient’s needs to see to it that he was reunited with his dog one last time. I’m sure he would be very pleased to see that Yurt was adopted by a loving family who will take good care of him.

  27. JW says:

    Aw, man. This is so heart-breaking {tears}. Thank goodness there are still people out there who know what “having great bedside manner” means. I’m sure the man wanted to be sure Yurt was. Kudos to the paramedic who gave the man his last wish.

  28. Archilocus says:

    Wonderful comments. I have had a dog my entire life and while all of the emotion surrounding this story and our attachment to the wonderful and faithful dogs we’re lucky to have in our lives is all very heart warming, imagine if we felt this way about our fellow HUMANS! I wonder if another conservative (or whatever they call themselves these days) would EVER be elected!

  29. maureen says:

    I think people that won’t get another dog because it hurt when the first one died are selfish. How about thinking about the millions that need a home and it is a matter of life or death for them

  30. Jan Erceg says:

    Here is the addendum to Kevin and Yurt’s story as it has had a very happy ending! As the Paramedic that brought the two of them together, one last time-(Kevin died the morning after seeing his dog, I made a solid promise to this man. I assured Kevin I would see to it that Yurtie got a wonderful home. Adopted in June 2011 after Kevin passed, the family returned Yurt to the shelter. The adoption failed and they felt horrible about it.
    So, in making that promise to Kevin, I needed to step up and adopt Yurt, which I did. She is my baby girl and I can not imagine my life without her. She is one of 7 dogs and she is soooo happy! I know that makes Kevin rest peacefully. This has been an amazing and humbling episode in my life and things happen for a reason. I do belive that ultimately, Kevin in some manner picked me to care for Yurt, which is why everything occurred placing me in the path of this man and his dog. Yurtie leaps into my arms every chance she gets! I have to figure out how to upload videos of her to You Tube so I can update people on what her life is like almost 2 years later. It was my good fortune to have had this opportunity and I am a much better person because of Kevin and Yurtie.

  31. marie says:

    With a friend like Yurt, we can at least be reassured that Kevin McClain shared his homeless days with a close and loyal friend until the point when the hospice stepped in to ease him through. The hospice staff had not only the wisdom to ease his pain but sufficient compassion to realise the importance of this bond. Thanks to all the people who looked after these two, they remind us of the meaning of humane and all its best attributes.

  32. Steph says:

    So sad and beautiful. What is even sadder is the number of homeless people that take better care of their animals than people with pet that are making 100K a year. Just glad this sweet pup was loved so much while he was alive adn that she is still loved.

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