Dachshund Lovers Unite When Tragedy Strikes

Helping a tornado survivor who lost husband and two Doxies
By Kathleen St. John, April 2012, Updated June 2021

Sheryle Pickett lost everything when a tornado swept through Holton, Ind., on March 2. Her husband of 39 years, Ron Pickett, had come home sick from work and was there alone with the couple’s two Dachshunds, Jules and Katie, when the storm struck their home.

All three were killed. The house was destroyed.

“They were both little love bugs, little snugglers,” says Pickett of Jules and Katie. “That’s why I know they were all there on the couch together. Nobody died alone. They were all together.”

In the aftermath, Pickett informed the Dachshund Rescue of North America foster mom who’d taken care of both dogs before adoption. Ron and Sheryle were volunteers with the group, too. Moved by the story, Jules and Katie’s foster mom posted a note on Facebook—and word spread as fast as a Doxie on the run.


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April Scott, president of the Dachshund Delights pet-supply company, spotted a sympathy message for Pickett in her Facebook feed. Inspired, she set up a ChipIn site and a raffle of Dachshund Delights gift certificates to raise Pickett some money.

“My goal was $5,000,” says Scott. “We had that in the first day.”

Thanks to Dachshund Delights’ Facebook fans and email subscribers, plus the efforts of DRNA supporters, helping Pickett became a cause célèbre in the Dachshund social-media community.

“Members of DRNA donated to the fund and also spread the word about the fundraiser,” Scott says. “Other dachshund rescue groups picked it up and told their followers about it. We got donations from individuals and from other rescue groups themselves.”

By the end of a week, contributions totaled more than $13,000.

“That is the largest single gift I’ve ever received, from people I’ve never met,” Pickett says. “After the ChipIn was closed, I received cards from Dachshund mommies and daddies with checks and great words of comfort. And some from outside of the United States, people I’ll never meet.”

Scott thinks a little of the Dachshund’s spunky nature rubs off on its owners, making them especially willing to help in an emergency.

“The Dachshund is tenacious beyond common sense,” she says. “Dog people in general, I think, try to take care of their own. But the Dachshund is a unique breed and Dachshund lovers are really a subculture of the dog world.”

“I think they just felt that they needed to do something,” Pickett says. “They lived too far away to come clean my lot, come to the funeral home … I’ve gained hundreds of Facebook friends and email friends that I didn’t have six weeks ago.”

Pickett used some of the donated money to help pay for Ron’s funeral, and stashed the rest to put a down payment on a new house. She’s currently living in a rental home in Greensburg, Ind., with Bear, Ron’s dog, who survived the tornado.

In a phone conversation, Pickett talks about Ron’s love of music and motorcycles, Jules’s adorably stubborn personality and Katie’s “why walk when you can run?” attitude. Reservations are made for a Dachshund-rescue reunion in the fall. She’s already planning to decorate her future kitchen in a Dachshund theme, painting it red for Jules, her “little red-headed girl.”

“People will think I’m a crazy dog lady, and I don’t care,” she says.

She also hopes to keep the goodwill going by helping others in the future.

“I’m going to give what I can every time,” she says. “I’ll never tell anybody no again for a truly good cause. There are so many good people in the world. People say, ‘I can only give 20 dollars.’ Those 20 dollars add up. I truly appreciate it. I will never forget.”


Photo: iStock

Kathleen St. John is a freelance writer for target The Denver Post and The Onion's A.V. Club, and a lifelong dog lover. She lives in Denver, Colo., with her husband, John, and her dog, Daisy, who's a mix of just about everything.