Donner’s Official Portrait

In my home, the only photos I have on my fireplace wall are those of my beloved dogs, Montag (1973-1987), Sonntag (1987-2001) and Kessie (1987-1999), Leben (2001-2014) and Erde (2001-2015).  This view on this wall is the last one I hope to see on this planet, those dogs have brought me so much joy most of my life. 

Left: Leben and Erde; Center: Montag; Right: Kessie and Sonntag.

The canvas photo-portraits of Leben &Erde and Kessie & Sonntag on my wall were created by portrait photographer Lynn Dykstra, who lived in Virginia at the time. During my 2018 journey, I drove about 1000 miles out of my way to stop off at Lynn's new home in California to have her take Donner's photo. I wanted a photo that showed him in all his dignity, pride and beauty, and as the gentle-dog that he is, always was. Any photo of him now, of course, would be in stark contrast to the two photos and video I first saw of him on the morning of October 30, 2015, the day he was eligible to be put to sleep in a high-kill animal shelter in Los Angeles, photos which caused me to toss aside my tickets for a weekend in NYC and fly to LA from DC on the spur of the moment to rescue him. Below are those photos (click here for video clip on Facebook).

Donner's name back then was Thunder, a name I erased from his mind, but kept it in my own (donner means thunder in German) as a reminder to me of his difficult life for his first four years, chained in at least two Los Angeles backyards. 

Of the many photos Lynn took of Donner during his sitting, for which he sat like a pro, I chose two. Immediately below is the runner-up and at the bottom is the one I chose for his "official photo" to mount on my wall.

Neither portrait has been framed yet. The two above frames were downloaded from the internet for this posting, the bottom one a replica of the frame on the Mona Lisa.

When I look at these photos, I think of the long way Donner has come from chained in those hot Los Angeles backyards. And then my mind immediately goes out to all of the other dogs in shelters waiting for their own reincarnations.  Donner, of course, probably thinks to himself, "I am a good dog; this is the life I deserve," and he would be right. Every dog deserves the same.  What a good dog Donner is, and always was. His previous guardians had no idea what a fantastic dog they gave up. Lucky me.

I got tremendous joy from all my dogs every day over the 45 years so far that I have had them.  But the extra joy I get each and every day from Donner, knowing what he went through his first four years, is something I never expected. Everyone with whom I talk who has adopted a recued dog tells me the same thing.