"All of a sudden his eyes just opened up -- bam. He just looked at her. She started licking his face, his neck, his arms -- she got right into his face and looked into his eyes," Erceg said. "Within a few minutes he had just a complete grab and hold on her."
Erceg and the other hospice workers in the room could only hear McClain mumble, but he and his dog never lost eye contact.
"Several people had to leave because they were just overcome," she said. "We all cried a little bit."
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."
Garrett said, "It was heartwarming and heart-wrenching at the same time … knowing Kevin was going to leave us really pulled at your heart."
McClain died the next day.
Happy Ending for Yurt
Eric and Kate Ungs of Marion, Iowa, had been mourning the death of their black lab, Kaia, who died of old age. Then they found Yurt's biography on a website. It said she was a loyal dog, good with kids and had a "compelling story."
"I said, 'Look at her honey! She's so cute!" said Kate Ungs, who owns a handbag boutique called Purse-n-ality. "We took her on a walk and fell in love with her."
She and her husband, a digital marketer, adopted Yurt last week.
"We're lucky we have her," Kate Ungs, 28, said. "Our home was so empty."
And Yurt seems to be following McClain's advice. The Ungs report the dog has been exceptionally well-behaved, is already housebrokenand "very obedient and intelligent."
But it seems she still misses McClain.
"At night she starts to kind of cry a little bit and gets really snuggly," Kate Ungs said. "We feel like that was the kind of time when she used to snuggle with her old owner."
Eric Ungs, 27, jogs with Yurt every morning.
"She has tons of energy and is definitely the one who is leading the run for sure," he said.
When the story about McClain surfaced in local media, the couple received several uplifting messages on Facebook and the two still marvel at the impact both Yurt and McClain made on the community.
"He just loved her and provided more for her than what he was able to do for himself." Kate Ungs said. "It speaks volumes for that man and shows the loyalty she repaid him with."