Monday, December 1, 2008


I did not have as much luck with my Weimaraner as William Wegman, the wonderful photographer of Weimaraners, has had with his. Of course I'm not an artist, either, and had I an inkling to put Heidi Weimaraner in front of my camera perhaps things would have been different.

We found her at the local humane society; she was a year old and in good health. She had such soulful yellow eyes looking out at us from behind bars that we could not walk away without her on a leash. Our four children ranged in age from 4 to 9, and it seemed like a good match. We, or more truthfully my first husband, thought Heidi was the dog our family needed. Heidi was definitely Joe's dog and she was his first love affair.

What we didn't know yet was that we were not particularly good at dog-training, not having it in us to make and enforce demands of the dog. Neither did we know that a one-year old large Weimaraner is still an enthusiastic puppy and that the breed itself it not known for its brains, Wegman's dogs excepted.

We lived in a big old two story house in Ontario, California, with a large fenced backyard. The previous owner many years earlier had made a wonderful rose garden in the back yard, planting about 25 rose bushes around the edges of the back yard but leaving enough lawn in the middle for his children to have room to play. Heidi was going to be an outdoor dog, so the first thing we did was to get her a lovely doghouse and all her feeding equipment, along with assorted ropes, bones and accoutrements that dogs need to entertain themselves.

Heidi soon decided there was plenty of entertainment to be had without resorting to artificial means. She began digging the roses up, one by one. We consulted "the books" to see how to stop this digging; I remember only one suggestion and that was to pour water in the hole as she started to dig. It did not work. It just made a muddy dog. One day after finding yet another rose bush lying prone in the garden, Joe signed himself and Heidi up for a dog obedience class.

Heidi did not want to be obedient. And furthermore, the suggestions the trainer gave to the dog owners for coercing their dogs into obedience didn't set very well with Joe; dog-beating was not what he wanted to do. The class became history and we went back to pulling our hair out over her behavior. Within two months, all rose bushes were gone. The back yard looked as if it had been struck by a shower of asteroids. And to our dismay, the children could not play in the back yard because Heidi's exuberance at having playmates kept knocking them down like bowling pins.

One Sunday morning an unexpected rain came up just as we were ready to leave for Sunday School and church. We had a large den in the house into which we could shut Heidi up while we were gone. It had a linoleum floor, a vinyl couch and a small TV. It seemed like a good place to store her for a couple of hours. We brought in all her toys, left her with food, water and a warm blanket, and headed out to church. We were confident that she would be safe and dry for that two-hour period we were gone.

Heidi ate our turquoise vinyl couch while we were learning about God.

Well, she didn't "eat" it exactly; she first tore the vinyl off in strips, starting at one edge and pulling to the other. She did a good job. The only vinyl that remained on the couch was on the back, which was up against the wall. Once the vinyl was gone, she began pulling at the stuffing with her flea teeth (the little nippers in front, my cousin calls them), and when we came home we found Heidi lying on her blanket smiling, surrounded by clouds of stuffing and wooden couch frame. Needless to say, Heidi's time in our family was marked.

We put an ad in the paper looking for a family who had a lot of acreage and wanted an outdoor dog who could run to her heart's content. A vineyard owner in Etiwanda saw the ad and claimed the dog. We told him that we thought the dog had potential, but she just couldn't live cooped up. We used a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of sales pitch and then in a fit of guilt, told him that if she didn't work out to please not take her to the pound; bring her back to us.

For about a month we didn't answer our phone, fearing that it was Heidi on the other end. But one day a call did come through from the new owner saying she had adapted nicely, his children loved her and thanking us for putting that ad in the paper.

Every time I look at one of Wegman's Weimaraner pictures I think of Heidi. She was beautiful, that's for sure. And forty years later I am still drawn to Weimaraners. I see Heidi in each of them. Having her was a short and sweet love affair, and left me with good memories, except for the one of my vinyl couch.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

I had to laugh at the story about the couch. I could just "see" the look that she had in her eye...I have had many animals give me the same...oh and children too!