An elderly man from Toronto is set to receive hundreds of sympathy cards after his mini dachshund was mauled to death by four larger dogs while they were on a walk in the park.
"I never, ever in my wildest dreams ever expected anything like this," Kurt Haupt, 81, told ABC News today of his dog's death. "It's very unfortunate. I don't know why it had to happen to me. I dedicated all my years to this dog and that's why it's very difficult to get away from that."
It was the morning of March 9 when Haupt took his 14-year-old dog Dacky to Toronto's Centennial Park, where she was attacked by four large dogs who were off their leashes. The pup died that day.
Local resident Sue Dunstan said she had never met Haupt before hearing the heartbreaking story of what happened to his dog on the news, but she reached out to him afterwards.
"[Haupt] is quite devastated," Dunstan told ABC News. "He cooked from scratch for that dog, he walked it everyday ... he nursed it through all health issues, bathed it groomed it ... so, for 14 years he took excellent care of that dog. He says that although he has spent the majority of his life alone and solitary, he's never felt lonely. Now he said he is [feeling lonely]."
Days later, Dunstan created a GoFundMe page asking for sympathy cards and donations for Haupt. She closed it after surpassing the $3,000 goal by raising $3,350 for Haupt to have Dacky cremated, as well as adoption and veterinary costs for a new dog and for a donation to an animal charity of his choice, she said.
"I've spoke to Kurt every day for hours," Dunstan said. "He just wants to talk -- about Dacky, all about his life ... he has no one, no family, very little friends. He lives alone. So many people have contacted me through the GoFundMe asking if they could mail him cards. He is surprised, especially without Internet and email, at how many people have showed him he's not alone."
Dunstan said so far, she's replied to about 400 emails from strangers who'd like to offer Haupt condolences for the loss of his dog.
"I'm happy about it and so far, the response and sympathy expressed," Haupt said. "I'm grateful for these people. [Sue] calls me everyday and she helps me a lot. We talk about other things to help me get over it."
In a month or two, Haupt said he would like to adopt a senior dog to keep him company the way Dacky did.
"Even if I would get the same breed, a mini dachshaund with long hair, all dogs are a little bit different," Haupt said. "With my other dog, it didn't come for an end the way I hoped for. With a new dog, maybe it would be a brand new beginning."
To send a card to Kurt Haupt, email Sue Dunstan for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.