Donald, Donald, Donald…………
Sex God, Treat Whore, Bedhog, Disco Diva, Mexican Jumping Bean and Falsetto Crooner…..all things to all dog lovers, this spunky lil low rider trotted into our lives in June 2016, with his Robert Redford good looks and his humongous personality.
I had been sent a listing on him by one of our ‘talent scouts’ who told me he had a maximum two days before he was being put to sleep, on the grounds that he was unadoptable due to his health issues.
He was in Cobb County Animal Shelter, but we just couldn’t get to him in time, so we called on our friends at Dream Dachsund Rescue to go take a look at him for us, to see if he would be a fit. If he was, then we would call and put a hold in him.
Well….Vikki Long went to the shelter on a Sunday afternoon, the day before he was scheduled for euthanasia and told me later that no way was she leaving that darling dog there, even if we couldn’t take him…he was so bloody handsome and so bloody cheeky looking, she just could not drive away without him. So she scooped him up, popped him on the front seat of her car, and drove home to Atlanta all the way with her windows open….because his breath was so disgusting.
Bad heart murmur, upper respiratory infection, tumors that were squashing his internal organs, teeth that were so bad they were killing him slowly with the bacteria, a ‘chesticle’ tumor that hung down beneath his chest and scraped the ground as he walked and looked like a you know what…..nothing should have worked on this old guy, and yet everything that mattered, did.
At 16 years of age, he had clearly had a rough life with little care of note, but he still approached life like a wide eyed puppy…
‘Ooh is that a Sandwich?
‘Hey sugar, fancy meeting me in a quiet corner of the cabin, if I bring the Barry White tunes?’
‘Hey there! Can’t you see me jumping? Is anyone going to lift me up on the couch so I can see what’s going on?
Treats! Treats! Treats! Dinner! Breakfast! Second breakfast, please….the first wasn’t big enough! Treats!
Is it time for lunch?
Are we going for a car ride? Will there be a MacDonalds on the way?’
‘Lil Kim, you lookin’ mighty fine gurrrrlll…mmmm hmmmmm’.
From the minute he got here, Donald knew he had hit the jackpot and decided to make every moment count.
As much a sex pest as any frisky young adolescent, Donald got a thorough dressing down many, many times those first weeks from Lil Kim who let him know without a doubt that her booty was OFF LIMITS.
Did it stop him? Did it heck! He just regrouped, changed tactics, and set his sights on Trudy, who was much easier going!
God only knows what he got up to at the cabin when everyone left for the night…….many times I’ve been awakened by the sound of seventies porn type soundtracks, and seen a glitter ball or two through the window. Eh…what are you gonna do?
Last summer we decided to take the risky step of dental surgery, in order to prolong his life, as the bacteria in his mouth was not-so-slowly killing him.
Our veterinarians, Gwinnett Animal Hospital, told us he would have weeks left at the most if we didn’t do something, and we couldn’t bear to not give him that chance of life. During the surgery, which thankfully was a huge success, we also had his ‘chesticle’ removed, a bittersweet moment to be honest, because this thing had become such a part of his personality. So much so that one of our volunteers, Kathy Kohlhagen even made a brassiere for it, to hold it up off the ground while he walked in the woods.
That little scrap of green Lycra remains in our memorial cabinet to this day. The chesticle was gone, but never forgotten.
Donald was not just a valued team member for our community outreach program, his personality was an awesome tool in banishing the blues from every new dog that came in through the doors, wondering why they had been dumped at this twilight time of their lives.
His jokey manner and tender companionship earned him a spot at the side of all the newbies….especially Errol Flynn, his ‘brother from another mother.’ The two of them played, cuddled, gossiped and used their film star good looks to keep sprits light at the cabin, and could often be found curled up in a ball together on a huge, blanket covered bed, exhausted from all their exploits.
Over the last few weeks, he has played less and less, and slept more and more. He suffered from a bout of pancreatitis at Christmas which wouldn’t go away, no real surprise to anyone who knew the state of his internal organs, but we were just not used to seeing him less than vibrant. Daily sub cutaneous fluids were given by staff member Kathy Wick or our super volunteer Connie Woofford, but after a while even that didn’t help to perk him up. Over the last few days, his decline was dramatic.
Poor Donald started to have seizures, was unsettled, he paced and whined and his breathing became painful after eating.
Yesterday, he lost his sight and then his appetite started to wane……totally unheard of for Donald, who, even with pancreatitis, would try and burgle the fridge.
It was time, we knew it, he knew it, and he wanted us to help the pain go away.
Our dear friend, veterinary partner and volunteer Andrea Haupt from Gwinnett Animal Hospital came to the cabin at nine thirty last night after a 15 hour shift because she could not bear to hear of his distress. So, after having a final snack of chicken nuggets and some cheeseburger, Donald stuck his head in a bowl of his favorite softened cookies while the needle went in, and he drifted away to that great big All You Can Eat buffet in the sky, with a full mouth and loving arms around him.
Donald’s last words were Nom Nom Nom Nom, and that’s exactly what he wanted.
His friends, all bar one, stayed in the cabin as he departed: Boris came over to sniff, (and to see if he’d left any of his packed lunch behind) Jules came to lick his snout and his neck, Errol Flynn clambered over his body for a little while before realizing that his friend had gone home, and then sat in Aunty Andreas lap close to his pal, trying to make sense of it all.
Kathy Kohlhagen dispensed treats and kisses to keep the coast clear while the final procedure was taking place, and then came to kiss him on his nose and rub his dear old head. I held his head and kissed his nose as he slipped away. It was peaceful, even if it felt like we were being robbed.
And Little Kim? She stayed outside and gave her wannabe paramour his space, watching from a distance and then as soon as he had left the building, she came back inside to check on her brood and provide a calming presence amid their sadness.
We are so happy for Donald…happy that he got to live here and to experience such love and peace, and fun…the cabin gave him a new lease of life, and a new purpose.
We are happy that he got to spread his particular brand of love to everyone who met him….young, old, infirm, disabled, troubled and lonely.
Most of all, though, we are happy that he got to pass in comfort, when he was ready…..a happening reserved for few pups of his age and health.
The legacy he leaves us with is one of determination…..To go on, to continue his work, to find another needy senior dog to continue his mission and take his space in the cabin, but not his place in our hearts.
There is one spot in all of our hearts that is long, low, lumpy and beautiful.
It’s called Donald’s spot, and it’ll be there til the end of time.

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