Entries in dying wish (1)


Dying Man Gets Last Wish, Reunited with Dog

AbleStock[dot]com/Hemera Technologies(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) -- Everytime paramedic Jan Erceg thinks about Kevin McClain, she said she gets goose bumps. In more than three decades on the job, this is one patient Erceg, 54, said she would never forget.

"I've been a paramedic so long -- you get kind of hardened sometimes, and things like this make you realize you haven't seen it all and you should never lose your humility in life," she said.

McClain, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, would later affect several others in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, his life taking on new meaning as he neared death. And it was all because of the bond he shared with his dog, Yurt, a connection Erceg said "defies explanation."

Brandi Garrett, 28, who looked after McClain at the Dennis and Donna Hospice House of Mercy, said McClain worried about where his dog would go after he died and who would take care of her. But most of all, he wanted to see her one last time.

McClain had been living in his car in a Walmart parking lot when paramedics found him unconscious in early May. McClain was very sick and was taken to a hospital, while Yurt was found to be healthy and was taken to an animal shelter.

Erceg met McClain while transferring him from the hospital to a hospice facility and she met Yurt while volunteering at the animal shelter.

Hospice arranged for Yurt to visit McClain, and Erceg drove Yurt over in an ambulance.

"This dog, I swear to God she knew where she was going. She was just freaking out -- yipping and shrieking. We got to the hospice house, and she just made a beeline for the front door," Erceg said.

Yurt headed straight toward McClain's room, where the dog jumped onto the bed that McCain was in and onto her owner. After more than an hour, Erceg gently tried to remove Yurt from the bed, but McClain grabbed his dog's head and kept stroking it.

Erceg began to cry as she remembered his final words to Yurt. "He told her 'behave. You behave.' ... That was his acceptance -- he knew that was going to be the last time he saw her."

McClain died the next day.

Yurt was recently adopted by a couple from Marion, Iowa, who say the dog has been exceptionally well-behaved, is already housebroken and "very obedient and intelligent."

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