Farewell to Donny

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!

16 thoughts on “Farewell to Donny

  1. Loren: No sabia lo de tu perrito.Creo y se que tuviste que sentirte muy triste, porque en realidad es una pérdida. Ellos nos llenan de alegria y nos hacen olvidar siempre los problemas que vivimos cotidiamente. Lo siento mucho, y aprecio tu gran sensibilidad a expresarte de el. Siempre nos muestra tu calidad como ser humano a traves de tus libros y escritos, que todos apreciamos y valoramos intensamente. Un abrazo sincero. Marielena.

  2. Lorenzo,
    What a lovely tribute to Donny. We know how much you loved and cared for him. You are right in saying that our pets become family. We still have a picture of our own Westie, Sullivan hanging on our refrigerator. We now have grand dogs to keep us company. Hopefully Toby will have many years to give you love and pleasure and always remember Donny when you hear Haydn’s Sonata in F.
    Love, Mary & Don

  3. Lorenzo, thank you for sharing those memories of Donny. As only you know best to tell your stories, we are fortunate to experience your heartfelt moments with Donny so vividly. It is hard to part, I know. It has been 4 months for me since my little Mousse parted. They will be playing together and always watching over us, being grateful of the love we gave them. That Haydn piece was a sign from Donny. No coincidence there. Those routines we had with them will slowly fade, but the love & affection he gave you will always, always be in your heart. A warm hug to you and Thom. Maria Elena

    1. Maria E.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. You’re so right. Even when we know it’s time, it’s hard to part. Donny will always be in my heart. I hope he and Mousse have met each other and are playing together.

  4. Well, I certainly know of what you speak. My puppy (Bambi), as you may recall was a rescue dog) had a stroke in May. She has had lots of impediments since then, but is not suffering… more like adapting, although she has very much “slowed down.” Saying goodbye to our critters is a life experience that never gets easier when repeated! Miss you both and truly feel your loss. XOXOX

    1. Robert, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m sorry to hear about Bambi. At first, we thought that’s what would happen with Donny , that he would just “slow down.” Soon, it became evident he was really “checking out.” So unexpected. He’s left a great void in our lives. Hugs and kisses to you and Jan.

  5. Very touching essay, Lorenzo. We who have dogs know exactly the anguish and pain you and Thom went through. Pets are like children, definitely part of our families and lives. We have had to put down some dogs and one hung himself when he was strangled trying to jump a fence, that was a very sad day. But I do believe that our humanity is enhanced and elevated when we learn to love and nurture other members of God’s creations, our wonderful and loyal pets. Thank you for sharing with us.

  6. Thank you for leaving a message, Fernan. I agree that our humanity is enhanced when we love and nurture our wonderful pets. Their loyalty and unconditional love teaches us a great lesson in acceptance and kindness.

  7. Beautifully written. I’m glad that I got to meet Donny and spend some time with him as well as Toby (and you and Thom!). Your story reminded me of my two dogs (Cotton & Janus) so many years ago. In cold winter mornings they would lie at my feet and give me warmth as well as companionship. It’s been three decades and I still miss them. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Mmm. Heartfelt thoughts are being sent your way. I know how much love you and Thom gave and received from both of your doggies. it is true. We love them as s family. We are in Michigan at the family cottage. Both our Golden Retrievers are here with us. Their ashes resting under the hammock, where they loved to spend lazy vacation days each year. They still and will always bring us wonderful memories and joy.
    Love to you both!!


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