A six-month old Dalmation pup that was deaf and whose behavior was wild ended up in the animal shelter years ago. Manager Nancy Goodwin began training the dog in the hope of making it adoptable.
Local resident Kathleen Clody also got wind of the new shelter resident and made several trips to check on the dog’s progress as Dalmations were her favorite breed, recalled Goodwin, who got to know Clody.
Clearly the shelter in Laguna Canyon meant something to Clody, who also adopted a stray from the shelter that she named Strayed.
Last week, the Laguna Beach Police Department, whose staff supervises the shelter, received a call about an unexpected $218,800 windfall, a gift from Clody, who recently died.
Goodwin, in an interview this week, said she had known for the past month that a large donation was headed their way. Still it was a bit of shock when it showed up the very day after the phone call.
“It was a nice call to get,” said Jim Beres, the police liaison to the shelter, noting that the more typical donation amounts to $50 or $100. “We are used to it taking months to settle estates,” Beres said.
The cash gift “for the benefit of the animal shelter” was received by Goodwin through the mail, part of a dispersal made very quietly by Gerald Dome, administrator of a Clody’s trust.
Born in England in 1920, Clody worked as the personal secretary to Zsa Zsa Gabor, according to Dome. She went on to own several dress shops in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles, including Glamour Unlimited, to which Gabor made conspicuous vists.
Dome came to know Clody as a teenager because “she was my mother’s best friend.”
Always an animal lover, Clody also left large bequests to various animal charities including the A.S.P.C.A., Actors and Others for Animals of Van Nuys, as well as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, Dome said in a telephone interview from his home in Irvine.
Clody, who died within the last few months, was married three times and had no children, though a stepson cared for her in recent months, Dome said.
Soon after Blue Lagoon was built in 1960, Clody and her husband bought a condominium there for weekend use. Eventually they moved to Laguna permanently and sold their home in Van Nuys, Dome recalled.
Dome also recalled a chance meeting with Clody in Europe on a ferry crossing the North Sea from Dover to the Hook of Holland. She was in the lounge entertaining friends. He also recalled a time when actor Ian McKellen visited Clody at the Blue Lagoon.
“She had a wonderful life,” he said, noting that she retained her English accent throughout her life and loved to entertain.
With failing sight and the desire to make a will, Clody sought help from Dome, who insisted she draw up a trust instead. After she retained a lawyer to do so, she again asked Dome to review the documents. He continued to advise her on financial matters and became her caretaker at the end of her life, arranging for hospice care at her home.
For the city’s animal shelter, good will yields tangible benefits. Another longtime local, Patricia Greaves left the shelter a major gift in 2010, which was used to rebuild after a severe flood.
Clody’s gift will be held in the shelter’s donation account until the City Council votes whether to accept it, Beres explained. “There are no strings attached,” he said. The money can be used for any purpose the shelter sees fit.
As for the deaf Dalmation, a Laguna Niguel woman who drove a classic 1940s sedan and wore vintage ‘40s clothing, adopted it and named her Billie Jean; the Michael Jackson song popular at the time, Goodwin recalls. “We’d often see her driving around town with the dog in her car.”