Thunder’s Hand Carved Memorial
You never know when or how it will happen – when that special dog – your dog of a lifetime, will come into you life. It seems like just a couple years ago when I adopted that Big Blue Weimaraner from the rescue here in Phoenix, but it was actually 12 years ago on January 2nd of this year – it was back in 2000. He was a three year old “puppy” at the time and 85 pounds of dog with a quiet and goofy personality. Weimaraners tend to be puppies for the first five years of their life. I swear, if I had known what his personality was going to grow into, I would have named him Scooby Doo !!
We renamed him Thunder because there was some abuse in his past and we didn’t want the old name to cause problems (he sometimes crindged or cowered when you said his old name). He caught on quick to his new name and after an obedience class, he was a well mannered companion that would always stay with me. He slept on the bed and was on the couch with me when I sat down. When he first came home and got used to me, he would slowly creep up on the couch like I couldn’t see him, or feel his 90 pounds (he gained a little weight) slipping up by me to put his head on my lap. As he got more relaxed in our home he must have thought he was a 15 pound lap dog because he was always climbing in my lap, even when I was in a chair!
Thunder was my shadow. He was up and with me no matter where I was going. I say he was my shadow because he always seemed to stand directly behind me. We went to the Dog Park every weekend and each time there was a point I’d be looking for him and he was standing directly behind me. Even when he was playing, hunting, or just looking around, he never was over 20 yards from me.
When he was about seven years old, I had the opportunity to take him with me and go help at a Youth Pheasant Hunt. Thunder seemed to love kids so I thought he would be a “Goodwill Ambassador ” even if he was not a trained hunter. Yes, he was a great ambassador, but I found out he was also a hunting dog. The first time he saw a pheasant flying and then get knocked down, he was tugging at the leash to get it. We put him on some birds that day and he pointed and retrieved. He was never trained – it was all instinct. One problem – he would point for about 5 seconds and if the bird didn’t fly, he leaped in a grabbed it and brought it to me. Either he wanted to help me save ammo, or he knew I was a bad shot with a shotgun. Since he would grab the birds, we made him official retriever of birds that were wounded and running. The Youth Pheasant Hunt became a yearly trip for us.
After that, I started bringing him with me dove hunting and he would stay by me (sometimes) and when, and if I got a dove, he retrieved perfectly. They were given to me pre-chewed some times, but always given to me. If I was missing them, he had no problem retriving any birds my hunting buddies shot. Thunder would just go over and sit next to them for a spell and get their birds – the traitor! But, He always was back in a few minutes to his friend that couldn’t shoot straight. I did one of my very early carvings of Thunder on my own 16 ga. Ithaca shotgun. It was just his head carved in the lower right area of the buttstock. He’s still with me on every bird hunt.
He caught a bad case of Valley Fever when he was about nine years old but was lucky and beat it. It left him with bone growths in both his knees which lead to arthritus. He was never much of a runner after that. We still hunted but he just walked everywhere. He was a real world class couch potato his last fews years and I didn’t mind at all. Quality time spent together on the couch are fond memories I enjoy. It was on old leather couch and when people came over I told them that it was his couch and they had to ask him if they could sit there. He would get off his couch with no problem, but I didn’t ask him to do that very often.
I lost Thunder the day after Christmas – he had been with me one week shy of 12 years. I laid him to rest on a friend’s land just a mile from my home, and just a few yards from a dry creek bed that a large Gambel’s Quail covey follow every morning and evening. I thought he would have liked it because he and I had enjoyed exploring there many times. The marker is a 2×12 I cut in the shape of an old western headstone. I took a torch to it to bring out the wood grain and then carved it with his name, a dog pointing, and an epitath. I stained the carving and finished it with several coats of outdoor semigloss spar urethane. I also built a small bench for the site with carved oak leaves and pheasants that I put near him for visits.
Thunder’s epitath was simple – “Good Dog”
I heard once that “Dogs don’t live as long as we do because we can bear their loss, but they couldn’t bear losing us”. I’m not so sure …
and thanks for stoppin by and reading this.