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*As told by Bob B., Horseshoe Ski Patroller.

Homer has a very interesting story. He is a purebred English Springer Spaniel and became part of the Horseshoe Resort patrol team about two years ago. His story goes as follows…

His first owner was a wealthy man and bought Homer as a puppy because he wanted company on his business travels. When Homer got too big for him, he was left, along with another Doberman, at one of the owner’s houses in either Port Carling or in Toronto.

The owner purchased a smaller breed, a cocker spaniel, to travel with. At some point, the owner decided to sell everything and move to British Columbia (B.C.), dropping the Doberman and Homer off at a kennel in Huntsville without telling them of his move. A couple of months passed and the kennel finally made contact with owner asking when he was going pick up his two dogs. The owner basically said that they’ll have to re-home the dogs since he has moved everything to B.C.

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My friend Jan, who I ski with, was contacted by her parents (former breeders of Springer Spaniels) about Homer and the Doberman. Jan went to have a look and brought both of them home even though she already had her hands full with a house of females, her daughter Morgan, a cat, a Jack Russell, and now Homer and a female Doberman. Homer was the odd man out and didn’t play with any of them; he just sat in his hole and watched everyone.

In the summer of 2014, Jan’s neighborhood was hit a by a tornado which forced them to move to a temporary residence until her home could be rebuilt. She called me to come and have look at Homer since my dog, Barney, had passed away a few years ago.

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I was about to go on vacation way up north with my son, so I told Jan that I would try him for the night but I must return him the next day since I was going away. However, everything went absolutely, amazingly well and both my adult son and I adored Homer. Ready to leave for my trip, I returned Homer and told Jan that I would come and get him upon my return.

I had just left the area when I got a call from my son to say that he would not be coming on the trip and that he could stay home to watch Homer. I turned the car around and went back to Jan’s. Upon my return, Jan’s daughter Morgan was in state of bewilderment with Homer. Apparently, he was going nuts looking for me, searching the yard and way out. When I pulled the car in, I didn’t even have to tell him to get in, he was just coming with me. And he now must be at my side all of the time.

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Over the course of the winter, I brought him to Horseshoe Resort for my usual weekend nights of patrolling. (I supervise weekend night skiing.) Somehow, I think he figured out what I did and started to help me with my cases. One night, I was called to a four-year boy that had fallen and was unconscious on the hill. I brought the boy in fully immobilized and Homer stayed by his side. With his free hand, the little boy started petting Homer. His mom was on the way over to me and was in a big panic about her child. In her words: “When she walked in the room, she was emotionally in a panic. When she saw her little boy immobilized and petting Homer, she knew he was calm and she calmed right down. She was truly amazed since her family was not a dog family and didn’t have one.” She returned to resort management with praises for Homer.

Since that day, Homer remains with me, patrolling year-round at Horseshoe Resort. He rides the snowmobile with me and runs beside me as I ski. In the summer, he sits in the passenger seat of my rescue vehicle, a Bombardier Commander, and is truly a site see. He has been involved in many cases and is a wonderful distraction for kids when their brother or sister is hurt (“Hey, can you look after my dog while I help your brother/sister/mom or dad?”).

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In the spring of 2015, Homer became a registered therapy dog with Therapeutic Paws of Canada. He is currently assigned to Georgian Bay General Hospital for tours every Wednesday night, cheering up the folks in long-term care. And I hear they truly enjoy his visits!

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