Sunday, March 26, 2023
Donner died this morning at 2:30. My heart is broken. He went lame in his rear right leg 10 days ago, and we had been working hard for me to manage him as a lame dog. I made the same commitment to him that I made to Sonntag and Leben, that he would not be put down just because he could not walk. I preparing to settle in for the long run with him.
It was a difficult 10 days, but we were managing. On Friday, I saw him perk up for the first time since he went lame, and thought we were out of woods.
Yesterday morning, he was extremely lethargic and threw up a few times. He had lost his appetite completely. I took him out in his stroller at about 6 pm, and introduced him to a few new dog friends. Boy, did he love dogs! We stopped in Starbucks, where he gave out a strange noise from his throat, as if he was trying to purge fluid from his body. I looked up the side effects of a new pain killer his orthopedic vet started him on yesterday, and saw that they were similar to what he was showing. Instead of writing it off as a side effect, I took him to an emergency vet to be sure. The vet gave me a bleak report and told me to take him to an emergency vet in Virginia for immediate surgery. I rushed him there and they gave me an even bleaker report. The vet said, he either has cancer that is speadfing throughout his body or a septic infection that perforated his abdomen and was spreading throughout his body. His belly and lungs were filling with fluid. The only next step was surgery, but the vet warned me that he would probably not come out of it. I had no choice but to let him go. He had lost his pleasant life.
I spent his last hour with him telling him the same thing I had told him more than 20,000 times, "Good dog." Those were the last words he heard. But he already knew that.
I have now had and lost six magnificent German shepherds, but this guy was so very special. I often wondered if he was purebred, although it would not have made a difference if he was not. So, just 10 days ago I sent in a DNA test. The results came back yesterday – 100.0% German shepherd. I congratulated him, but he knew that all along, too.
I will forever cherish the day in 2015 when I saw his video on my Facebook page at 5:00 a.m. as I was getting ready to take the train to NYC to see some plays and operas. He was scheduled to be put down that night in a high-kill shelter after spending his first four years chained in several backyards. I instinctively tossed the tickets to NY aside, got a ride to Dulles Airport, and caught the first plane to LA. What a absolutely joyous eight years he gave me. What an absolutely magnificent dog he was. Life will not be the same without him. He was my buddy.
Here is the link to Donner's (then, Thunder) video on Facebook that made me fly 3,000 miles to rescue him.