|Allan and Damian, 2007|
photo by John Chao
Few people know that Damian, in fact, had his own volunteer agreement, signed with his paw print, documenting his important role on our staff. According to this agreement, Damian's duties were to assist Mount Rainier National Park volunteer Allan Dreyer, as well as "spreading good will and good cheer among park visitors and employees; inspiring his coworkers with his dedication, enthusiasm, and positive demeanor; helping to bring positive attention to the volunteer program at Mount Rainier; and increasing the species diversity of our volunteer staff." While there was certainly a tongue-in-cheek element to Damian's paperwork, his service was beyond question, and he admirably accomplished all of the things listed in his position description and more.
Above all, Damian loved the outdoors, and Allan consistently reported that Damian would perk up when they drove up the road into Mount Rainier National Park. Even when old age led to creaky joints at lower elevations, he would happily bound through the mountain snow like a puppy, accompanying Allan on snowshoe walks or, in the summer, along the trails as a meadow rover. He loved people just as much, and was infinitely patient with visitors who wanted to pet his long, soft, orange fur.
Dogs for the Deaf, from whom Damian was adopted in 1994, proudly announcing the news:
"I wanted you to know that Damian has officially been made a VIP -- that is a 'Volunteer in the Park,' at Mount Rainier. The US Park Service used Damian's paw print in lieu of a signature. Damian is a true greeter when we work at the park. When people enter the lodge to sign up for our park-led snowshoe hikes, he greets each of them. Our snowshoe hikes have about twenty people per hike. One of the rangers was complaining to me that the people were raving over Damian and thanking us for having Damian on the hike. The ranger said, 'What about me? I was leading the hike.' So they thanked him for coming along, too.
"Damian is one LOVED dog. People always come up and ask questions about him. He, in turn, loves everyone. The rangers at Mount Rainier love him to pieces. There are few people who are on our hikes who haven't at least one photo of Damian to take home with them."
Our friend died October 28, 2010, at the age of 17, after a long span of declining health. He is survived by his companion and friend, Allan Dreyer, and Allan's wife Lisa, who live in Tacoma. They plan to spread Damian's ashes in the national park he loved so much.