My family has always been an advocate of animal rescue. Growing up, it seemed either dogs or cats found us, or people we knew asked if we could take an animal in and my mother could never say no. We even had a rabbit that had gotten scratched by another animal and went blind. Because it was blinded, the owner returned it to the pet store they purchased it at because they didn’t want it anymore. Knowing the rabbit would probably just live in a cage in the back of the store for the rest of its life, we adopted it and gave it a wonderful home. I also remember picking out my first kitten at the SPCA in Buffalo when I was eight years old, he was a little grey fluff ball and my buddy for the next 10 years.
As an adult, I can only imagine rescuing animals. Our three Weimaraners are all rescues. Six years ago, I was looking for a dog that I could take running with me. I had done research and found that Weimaraners made excellent running partners. One evening in May 2012, I was browsing the Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh’s website and saw they had a six year old Weimaraner named Hurley. I was a little concerned that perhaps he was a bit old but I called the shelter the next day to ask about him. He had been given up by his family because they no longer had time for him, with four children and two other dogs. They described him as energetic and recommended he would be good for running for a few years. That Saturday morning, we drove from Erie, PA to Pittsburgh to hopefully adopt Hurley. We walked into the kennel area and came up to Hurley’s cage. He growled at me when we first approached his cage, but I reached in to let him sniff my hand. He leaned forward and then lifted his paw like he wanted to shake! I knew then we had to take him home. We took him for a walk around the block and he certainly had the spunk to run! He pulled me down the sidewalk as I tried to keep up with him. We went back into the shelter and adopted him and were able to bring him home with us that afternoon. He was a perfect gentleman during the two hour car ride. He quickly became my best buddy and I logged hundreds of miles with him. He was much faster than me which encouraged me to run faster and I improved as a runner. I wanted to be a faster runner because of him, knowing he could do so much more. When he was about eight, I noticed he was starting to slow down and no longer could run consistently for the 4-6 miles we would do every other day. Hurley is now 12 and although his running days are over, he is my best buddy and I can’t imagine our lives without him. He is my protector and guards the house. He sits in the kitchen where he can keep an eye on the door. His favorite place to lay in the winter is in front of our fireplace. He still loves to run around outside in the woods and play. I still question why his previous family dropped him at a shelter; he truly is the smartest, most loyal dog I have ever had.
We have since adopted two other Weimaraners, one as a puppy where the family had bred their female in hopes of “calming her down”. Hank was the last of the puppies to find a home and we had heard about him from a friend. He was already 12 weeks old, and the owners of the female said they were just going to give him to a shelter if they couldn’t find a home for him. Hank is now 6 and has taken Hurley’s place as my running buddy. He gets excited when he sees me putting my running shoes on and is as sweet as can be.
Winston is our most recently adopted Weimaraner. We weren’t looking to add a third dog to our family but one day, I came across his posting on a local shelter’s website. He is ten years old and was dropped at the shelter because “his family was tired of him” to quote the shelter manager when we went to look at him. We had brought Hank and Hurley to the shelter incase we wanted them to meet him. All three dogs walked nicely together and Winston seemed to be a perfect fit. It took a few months for Winston to really warm up to us and the other dogs. He didn’t seem to understand what a treat was, and had no interest in playing or cuddling. It took him four days before he would eat anything for us; he just seemed so depressed. Weimaraners are known for not doing too well in shelters and I am sure that Winston was confused and felt abandoned. It has been about five months and he has finally bonded with Hank (Hurley prefers to be off by himself, he seems to think he is more a human than a dog). He absolutely adores my husband and is a perfect angel. He is another dog that we find ourselves often questioning why his previous owners gave him up.
I can only image rescuing Weimaraners in the future. It has been so rewarding rescuing our three Weimaraners. The bonds we have with our dogs are impossible to describe. I follow various Weimaraner rescue groups that are located across the United States on Facebook and there are always so many dogs of all ages that are surrendered and need homes. It breaks my heart that I cannot adopt every single one of them. I am not able to volunteer with any of these groups since they are not local but I support their fundraisers whenever possible. I love my old senior pups Hurley and Winston and hope we can make their last years their best years. They bring so much joy to our lives and I think they know and appreciate that they were rescued.
- Pack Leader, Juliann Worden of Erie PA