Successful stories of Adoptions at the Gastineau Humane Society
Happy Tails - Homer
Once upon a time in Juneau, Alaska, a dog named Homer was looking for his forever home.
At seven years of age, this Chesapeake Bay retriever previously had a home and a family---seemingly a good one, as he was healthy, cared for, and well trained. But in the fall of 2016, his owner relinquished him to the Gastineau Humane Society (GHS). Homer lived most of his life in Anchorage, but his owner had recently moved to Juneau and into a house with another dog. Unfortunately, the dogs didn’t get along, and there was some sort of incident. As a result, Homer’s owner gave him up.
Meanwhile dog lovers Katy and George lived with their beloved dog Emmitt. Emmitt was getting old and had developed some health problems. On a sad day in October 2016, Emmitt died. Needing time to process their grief, Katy and George weren’t looking for another dog. Katy thought they would probably “wait a couple of years” and then “look for a puppy.” Sometimes life has other plans.
As fall rolled by, Homer patiently waited, and Katy and George moved on with their lives. December and the holidays soon arrived, and Katy and George had a trip planned. Just before they left, Katy was checking her Facebook page and saw a photo that a friend had shared of a dog available for adoption. It was Homer, and he was “Pet of the Month.” Katy said his picture “pulled at her heart.”
In fact, Katy was so moved, that even though the timing couldn’t have been worse because of their planned travel, on December 17th they went to visit Homer. At that first meeting, Katy remembered that Homer seemed kind of sad. He wasn’t really interested in them, although he did warm up a bit to George. About to leave town, they decided that if Homer were still available when they returned, they would file to adopt him. Katy thought of Homer every day while they were away.
The New Year came, and suddenly it was January 2017. Back from their trip, Katy checked in with GHS, only to learn that Homer was now in a “foster to adopt” home. In some cases, GHS allows an animal to temporarily move into a home to ensure the arrangement will work out before adoption is finalized. Katy was sad, but also somewhat relieved as she knew Homer wasn’t thriving in the shelter environment, and she only wanted what was best for him. Nevertheless, she couldn’t stop thinking about him.
In late January—the 30th to be exact—Katy was having, as she said, “a really crappy day.” To perk herself up, she decided on a whim to look at the GHS adoption page. Much to her surprise, Homer was back and available for adoption! She felt for certain this was a sign to try again. She immediately went to GHS and learned the foster-to-adopt situation had not worked out as Homer was apparently “too clingy.” Katy filed an application to adopt and it was approved right away. Four days later, Katy and George brought Homer home.
Katy likes to think that Homer remembered them from their first visit, as right from the start, he fit their lives perfectly. One the first day, he was warm and friendly, hopped right in their car, enjoyed an outing at Cope Park, and then came home and promptly took a nap on the new dog bed they had bought him. Katy and George couldn’t believe their good luck, and Homer was “all smiles.”
Before finalizing the adoption, GHS staff told them that Homer was what they called a “resource hoarder,” meaning that Homer would diligently guard his possessions—food, toys, and family. Not necessarily a bad characteristic, but this may be why he didn’t get along with the new dog when he first moved to Juneau, and likely why his foster home thought he was too clingy. Luckily Katy and George found this behavior endearing.
Overall, Homer is well trained and a real lover. Yes—he follows them around the house, watches them, and always wants to be with them. But he is well mannered and gentle. He never gets into his food or toys inappropriately. Instead, he always patiently waits until mealtime or playtime.
Since getting to know him, Katy and George have learned just how much Homer seeks their companionship. He really loves them and being with them. He also loves to fetch, swim, and play with his toys. When asked why they chose Homer, Katy says simply, “he needed a home.” And although they originally thought they would get a puppy, they realized they had experience with an older dog, so they were a good match. They also know that older dogs can be harder to adopt and wanted to do right by Homer. They joke that now having their second older dog as part of their family, they have become a “dog retirement home.”
Katy says her favorite thing about Homer is “how much he loves them.” He also has a funny little “smile”—apparently a trait shared by other Chesapeake Bay retrievers—that looks like a scowl but is really a happy expression. They realize that they are probably enjoying Homer’s best years right now, and having had an older dog, they know what to expect as he ages. As a result, they really like to spoil him and enjoy every day. Homer is grateful for all their tender loving care and truly deserves his great home.
Katy encourages other people to consider adopting older animals. Yes, your time with them may be limited, but they still have so much to give. Katy often thinks of the adage, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.” Katy and George simply cannot imagine their lives without Homer, and they are so grateful he is part of their family.
Once upon a time, there was a dog named Homer who found his
forever home and he lived happily ever after.
Story and photos by GHS Board Member & Volunteer Kerry Howard.
Homer is the second dog that Katy Jordan and George Schaaf have adopted from GHS. They also adopted their first dog Emmitt from there in 2012.