Donner is dead. Donner was my Great Dane and I loved him. O.O. McIntyre said something once, in his column, about the poignancy of "giving your heart to a dog to tear." I know what he meant. When Donner was a puppy, all paws and clumsiness, he used to frolic on the beach in front of our house with a little fox terrier friend of his. The terrier was full grown and very quick and agile. He liked to tease Donner with all kinds of canine acrobatics and Donner was a sucker. He always tried to do everything the terrier did, and he's always fall over himself in the attempt. Mother and I used to laugh at him until the tears rolled down our faces, which sometimes sent him to a corner to mope, since he hated to be laughed at. But he never stayed there long. He couldn't resist that terrier. Mother and I used to laugh at Donner at mealtime, too, sitting there in the dining room a respectful distance from the table, drooling. "Donner", I'd tell him sometimes, "don't sit there drooling like a dope. It isn't the droolers who get along in this world. It's the what-the-hellers!" And he'd thump his tail on the carpet, "Sure, sure. But what about a piece of steak? As he grew older Donner made me his special responsibility. He was always near me if he could manage it. I remember one night when my mother was away and I woke up feeling ill. I got out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen to make myself some hot lemonade. I felt so bad I didn't notice him at first, but pretty soon I caught site of Donner standing in the doorway, head cocked to one side, trying to understand this strange procedure. I went back to the bedroom for something and he came along. I returned to the kitchen and there he was, right at my heels. The house was very dark and still, and the fog hung heavy on the sea outside. It came to me there, in the middle of the night, how good it was to have him with me, protective and companionable. And how beautiful, the simple unswerving devotion of a dog.
He doesn't race through the rooms, mussing up rugs and knocking over things. He doesn't leave hairs on the furniture. He doesn't gobble his dinner, slopping much of it over the edge of his bowl onto mother's nice, clean kitchen floor. He doesn't track sand through the house so that we are forever having to vacuum after him. I wish he did. The extra work he made was nothing compared to the fun and happiness he gave us. I cried terribly when, toward the end, he tried to lick my hand and couldn't quite make it because he was so sick. and tried to wag his tail, but could only make it move the barest little bit to say "So long, Carole. It's me who's going away this time. I'm sorry, Carole. I'm sorry I'm making you cry..."As I left the vet's that day, I said I would never have another dog. I said I couldn't bear to have one and love him-and someday lose him. "It hurts too much," I said. But yesterday...well, yesterday I was walking along the boulevard and in a pet shop window was the most adorable cocker puppy. He was lying, head on paws, in a corner all alone and breaking his little heart over it. I went inside and picked him up. He was scared and shaking at first, but when I cuddled him in my arms, he put his little head on my shoulder and heaved a big sigh as if to say "This is it. This is what I've been waiting for." I put him down and almost ran out of there. I didn't want a dog. Oh, definitely, I didn't want a dog. But I found myself thinking of him all last night, poor little mite in that pet store window, lonesome and scared. And this morning I called up the man at the store and told him I would be in for my dog. "I was saving him for you, Miss Landis." he said. He knew even before I did that "Splash" was for me. Yes, I've already named him, and I'm going to Hollywood right now to get him and bring him home. So you see, I've done it again. I've given my heart once more "to a dog to tear."