As any true pet lover knows, your pets ARE your children, no matter that they do not live as long as humans. And when one passes away, it is heartbreaking, whether they have been with you for 2 years or 10 years.
My weimaraner Hummer passed away last Friday and I wanted to share some photos and stories of him so that you can enjoy just a little of the happiness that Hummer brought into my life. Even as I write these words, my eyes tear up in remembrance of him. He truly meant a lot to me and I know that he will never be replaced in my heart.
I first decided to adopt a dog when I lived in Florida. My son and I already had two cats, but I wanted a companion and running partner. In Florida, I was a runner and participated in many charity running races from 5Ks to Half Marathons and even triathlons for a few years. Florida is perfect running territory because the roads are flat and there are sidewalks everywhere (at least in Central Florida where I lived). So I wanted a partner to keep me company when running that I didn’t actually have to talk to and waste energy while running. After several months of looking and considering different breeds, I settled on the Timucuan Weimaraner Club of Florida, a breed-specific rescue organization. Among the handful of rescues available for adoption was 6 month-old Hummer. The story was that Hummer was found on the side of the road somewhere in Georgia and had been with the rescue for a couple of months. I had to pass a screening process which included a home visit and had to sign a contract stating that if I was ever unable to care for Hummer, that he would be returned to the rescue. That is one fabulous thing, among many, with rescues. They are dedicated to their animals and will take them back no matter what. Also included in our adoption were a beginning series of obedience training sessions at Best Paw Forward.
We first met Hummer at Best Paw Forward where we filled out all the paperwork, then took him for his first training session. At six months old, he weighed just under 50 lbs.
At first, Brian (almost 10 years old) was bigger than Hummer, but before long, Hummer gained a lot of weight and Brian found it more difficult to handle him. Unfortunately, our female cat, Baby Girl, didn’t like Hummer and so he intentionally bothered her because he knew she didn’t like him. He’d stare at her or poke at her with his nose to get a rise out of her, just because he could. He never growled, bit, or ran after her, just intimidated her with his intense stares and lunges. He didn’t bother with our male cat, Whiskers, because Whiskers didn’t seem to care about Hummer’s size and didn’t allow him to bother him. Therefore, Hummer left him alone. It was quite funny at times to watch Hummer pestering Baby Girl and making her meow and run away. Then he’d look at me as if to say,”What? I didn’t do anything.”
By the age of 2, Hummer was up to 93 lbs which was the average weight he carried. He turned out to be a great running companion and would run between 3-5 miles with me. For a weimaraner, he tended to be on the stocky side, even though we ran together quite a bit. At his heaviest, he weighed a little over 100 lbs, but tended to maintain an average between 90-95 lbs. He went most places with us, including a pet-friendly B&B on Amelia Island for my 34th birthday, to the beaches on the gulf coast of Florida when I visited my mother near Casey Key, and a couple of times to Va when we drove up to visit family.
Hummer was always attention- and food-hungry. He preferred to be wherever his “people” were and would only stay outside by himself long enough to do his business, then he wanted to be inside with us. We learned very quickly that Hummer was quite intelligent when it came to scoping out anything food-related. The cat food had to be kept in the furthest corner of the counter and trash cans had to be kept behind cabinets. Any slip up on our parts, no matter how old he got, and the result was a torn up trash bag or overturned trash can with trash spread around. Even after moving to NC in 2006, Hummer figured out how to open the corner carousel cabinet where we kept the dry foods so we had to start putting his food bin in front of it so he couldn’t push the cabinet open. I could never get too mad at Hummer for these hijinxs because it was more like a battle of brains to see who won.
In December 2005, a few weeks before we moved to NC and the Inn, Hummer and I were out running and were a block from our house when Hummer was viciously attacked by a K-9 police German Shepherd. The dog had escaped from its garage and, we learned, was male dog aggressive. Because we were on a public road and many people were driving to work or school, a couple of good Samaritans stopped to help us. Hummer’s back and shoulder were ripped open and he needed 17 staples to close the wounds and a drain tube for 4 days to keep the infection out and to allow the wounds to drain. The police department paid for all of his veterinary bills and Hummer never seemed to be afraid or affected by dogs afterward. I, on the other hand, became very nervous when out with Hummer. Not for my safety, but for his. I never wanted him to be attacked again so I started carrying a taser with me. Once we moved to NC, Hummer and I ran outside for a short while, but I began to run at the YMCA on the treadmill.
For a couple of years, Hummer attended doggie day care at At Play With Sparky so that he could exercise and interact with other dogs. But as he started getting older, his tolerance of other dogs jumping all over him waned and he’d end up in timeout because he’d snap at the other dogs. I’d hold my head in shame on those occasions I had to pick him up whenever I’d receive a naughty boy report. So, I stopped taking Hummer to daycare and we officially said that he was “retired.” He seemed to enjoy spending most of his time on the couch anyway and he would get daily walks around Jake Rusher Park next to the Inn. He always loved riding in the car whenever possible and had the entire back area of the 4Runner to himself, even after we adopted Jenny in fall 2008 and Squirt in spring 2009.
By the time we added the two small dogs to our menagerie, Hummer was well into retirement and pretty much ignored them, unless one annoyed him and then he’d put him/her in their place. After a good set down, the little dogs stayed out of his way.
In the last year or so of his life, Hummer definitely became somewhat cantankerous when it came to other animals and small kids. He snapped a couple of times and I knew that he would be happier staying home when we went on trips or when there was a lot of activity going on at the Inn. I smile as I remember his progression from young child, to mischievous teenager, to crotchety old man. There were definitely character changes along the way that demonstrated his aging. But through it all; every late night sprint for the outside after he’d eaten an entire package of cheese crackers, plastic wrappers and all, to expunge the plastic from his system, to his laziness in not wanting to go downstairs to bark at visitors he could see, but instead laying on the couch barking, not knowing what he’s barking at; Hummer was always happy to see me and Brian. I nicknamed him Mr. Wiggle Tail because his stump was always going, even if I just looked at him, it wiggled.
In the end, I knew it was time when I couldn’t get that tail to wag, not matter that I hugged Hummer tight and stared at it, willing it to move. He just did not have the strength to show me that he loved me, but I knew. And I was there when he took his last breath and it was a comfort to me to know that he went in peace and without pain and that he knew that I loved him, and still do.
Thank you Hummer for being like a child to me and for bringing me so much love and joy. You will never be forgotten.