Farewell to Donny
Saying goodbye to a friend after an enjoyable evening of dinner and drinks leaves us with a smile. When we lose a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or pet, however, our goodbyes come laden with grief rather than joy.
Why have I included a pet on the list? Because saying goodbye to a pet is like saying goodbye to a family member.
Pets are family.
Just yesterday, Thom and I experienced the sadness of saying goodbye to our adorable 10-yr-old Westie. Donny came into our lives eight years ago, the result of a phone call we had placed to a shelter that handled only Westies—we’d had this breed before and were interested in adopting one. We provided references and waited for a dog to become available.
A week later we heard back. Our references were good. They had a doggie. He would be brought to us the next day on the condition that if we, or our house, did not pass mustard, he’d be taken back. Less than two hours later, another call came in. “A second dog is coming in tomorrow. Would you be interested in both?”
What our excitement hadn’t taken into consideration was the fact we were taking in two males who hadn’t met each other until that morning in our home—our previous Westies were male and female. The skirmishes started immediately. Who was going to be top dog? Toby, as the bigger and older of the two, was determined to take the title. Donny was adamant not to lose the fight.
After months of training, they settled into an easy friendship. They would chase each other around the house and share their toys. The love we showered on them erased their painful past (Toby had been physically abused, and Donny, neglected by an elderly owner who forgot to feed him); they in turn gave us their unconditional love.
With perfect Westie features, as seen in ads starring the breed, Donny was a charmer. When he focused his soulful eyes on someone, he’d get a willing lap to snuggle up in. He loved people probably as much as Kleenex. No waste basket was ever safe from his curious rummaging.
Both dogs would lay at my feet when I sat at my desk to write or when I played the piano. Over the years, I found that when I played Haydn’s Sonata in F, Donny would rub his body against my legs. Was Haydn his favorite composer and this his favorite piece? Or did he just want to be picked up?
Three weeks ago, he stopped eating and wasn’t interested in going out. We took him to the Vet where he stayed overnight for two days and then spent a day at an animal hospital for further tests. He was diagnosed with kidney disease. We should have known something was amiss when we no longer found waste baskets turned over on their side. Initially, I thought eight years of training had finally taken.
From the hospital, we brought him home to a strict regimen of daily IVs and pills. We hoped he’d recover, but he kept getting weaker, refusing to eat and wanting to stay in bed.
We knew it was time.
After a tearful goodbye, as we drove off from the Vet, I was grateful he had gone peacefully in my arms but still wondered if we had waited too long and he had suffered more than necessary. But as it is with the Universe, when inexplicably it gives us a sign to validate our actions, I noticed the car radio was on. I didn’t remember hearing it on the way to the Vet. The piece playing was Haydn’s Sonata in F. I knew then we had made the right decision at the right time.
We still have Toby who seems to know Donny is gone and wants to please us “double time” to fill the emptiness left by his “buddy.” Certain times are still difficult: dinner and bedtime; when I give Toby a treat and automatically reach for a second one for Donny; when watering the plants—Donny loved to run through the water spewing out of the hose. “Such fun,” his wet body seemed to express. My consolation comes when I think of Donny turning over every waste can in dog-heaven with a water hose aimed directly at him and Haydn’s Sonata in F playing in the background.
Donny, we love you and will remember you forever. You brought us such joy!