By Adrienne Fawcett
Tina McDonie calls herself “the crazy Weim lady”, but she isn’t crazy—she’s just nuts about Weimaraner dogs. Tina and her husband Mike Terry are fosters for Weimeraners—those sleek, grey dogs bred for large-game hunting back in the early 19th century, whose rose in the U.S. when President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a Weim named Heidi living with him in the White House. Weims soon fell out of favor due to breeding problems, but they became popular again in the 1990s and 2000s after starring in the photography of William Wegman, performing in skits on Sesame Street, and being featured in ads for such national nameplates as Honda, Maybelline, Target, Wells Fargo and other big brands.
As the breed has grown in popularity, so has the supply of abandoned Weimaraners and the need for foster families who understand their needs for exercise, companionship and mental stimulation. Enter Tina and Mike. They’ve been a Weim family since 1999 when they purchased a brother and sister whom they named Ti and Margo. When you listen to Tina’s explanation of how the dogs got their names, you’ll understand a bit of her depth of passion for the breed:
“Ti is the abbreviation for Titanium on the Period Table of the Elements (my husband has a PhD in Chemistry). Titanium is a metal that’s silver in color. We have a few bicycles that are made out of titanium. Margo is the name of the lead singer in the group ‘Cowboy Junkies.’ She has an amazingly beautiful, soothing voice. The CJ’s are one of our favorite bands.”
Tina and Mike are currently fostering one Weim along with Wonder and Sierra, the two that came to live with them fulltime after Ti and Margo passed on. They also know of many other Weims in foster care that need good. GazeboNews asked Tina to talk about Weimaraners to help educate people who are considering adopting a dog.
GazeboNews: Why did you choose Weims?
Tina: My husband bought them for me as a present as we had recently moved here and I was still nervous about running by myself especially at night. We are both runners and wanted running companions and dogs that were large enough to protect me. Weims are normally great runners and VERY loyal/protective of their pack.
GazeboNews: Why did you become a foster parent for the breed?
Tina: We became Weim foster parents in 2010, after Ti died and his loss plummeted Margo into a depression. We started looking into rescues to find a pal for our sweet Margo. We loved both our ‘kids’ so much that we wanted to stay with Weims if we could find one. We applied to foster with Great Lakes Weim Rescue. The first Weim that we pulled went straight to the emergency vet and didn’t make it through the night. That was really hard, as it was so close to losing our boy. We kept pressing the GLWR for another dog but needed to be sure it was one that would be good for our depressed, senior girl. We finally got one in a few weeks.
“That was the start. We learned so much about how many Weims needed homes and how neglected they were. Sadly, we lost Margo in the same year, but the fosters kept coming. We were up to three Weims in our home within four months of starting with their foster program.”
GazeboNews: You were cross country and swim coach at Lake Forest College, and you’ve been very active in triathalete training. Are you still working or is Weim rescue your main focus?
Tina: The Weim work ebbs and flow. I am now on the Board of Directors of GLWR and for nearly a year held the position of Intake Coordinator. It is an EXTREMELY hard position. We get endless calls from owners and shelters looking for help with Weims. I am trying to focus my energies on fostering and marketing these sweet dogs instead of doing the intake roll. It can be a full-time job, but I do balance it with family needs and my side business of personal training and coaching, which I’ve had for 10 years. (Tina is proprietor of T&M Trisport Co.)
GazeboNews: Why do so many Weims wind up in rescue leagues?
Tina: Weims are very unique. Many dogs are smart and loving but Weims are a notch above. They so want to be with you, please you, work for you, love you. Sadly, too many people get them because of their looks and the marketing in photos and books and don’t understand just how much time they require. Weims need exercise, training, mental stimulation and socialization on a daily basis. They are not a ‘weekend dog’ that can get out with you a couple of days a week. My husband and I love that about them. They are such devoted animals if you meet their basic needs. We both have busy schedules but make time for them and they reward us daily.
Where can people meet the Weims that are in need of foster care?
We do a monthly “Meet and Greet” at the Gurnee PetSmart. It is normally the 3rd Saturday of every month from 12-3 (or 4 if we have lots of visitors). When there are 5 Saturdays in the month, we often do the 4th Saturday.
The attached document is one of the flyers that we take with us. It is the local fosters available for adoption. We also have one for dogs in WI. Many are near Milwaukee.