The world’s greatest Rottweiler
Hera, the world’s best Rottweiler, died last week. Her 11-year-old body wracked with tumors, she left the world after a kindly veterinarian said, “It’s time.”
Hera was my daughter’s dog, and one of a half dozen or so that reside with my three children. The pack also includes a miniature Schnauzer, three adopted mutts and a neurotic Poodle rescued from the streets of Nashville.
In recent months, Hera, who had begun to lose her hair, seemed embarrassed by her failing health – still attempting to climb stairs and romp in the yard in spite of the pain that was only partially eased by medication.
When my daughter first brought Hera home over a decade ago, I fearfully told her all the awful things I had heard about Rottweilers. They maul children, terrify the UPS man, fight with other dogs. Some landlords won’t even let Rottweilers in their apartments, I told her.
But Hera stubbornly defied all of my ill-founded expectations from the moment she joined the family as a tiny, black-and-brown ball of 10-week-old fur.
She was well-bred, smart and well-trained, and her mission in life was to protect and love those with whom she lived. When my granddaughter was born eight years ago, Hera’s fate was sealed. She became her guardian, protector and best friend, and was until the day she died.
Hera had a strange fear of tall grass that swayed in the wind, as if she knew something eerie was lurking just out of her eyesight. She could swim, but didn’t particularly enjoy it. She once exhausted herself in her best Border collie imitation by swimming in a continuous circle for hours around her family as we lazily floated in the water. She was rounding us up as a protection against unseen dangers lurking just below the water’s surface.
“Keep them safe … It’s my job to keep them safe,” she was probably thinking.
Hera would stay on command, sit on command, lie down on command, was a great Frisbee dog, and seemed to understand more words than
some humans I have met. She would have exploded rather than ever have an accident in the house.
In addition to my daughter and granddaughter, Hera oversaw a menagerie that includes a Golden Retriever mix of limited intelligence who is afraid of her water bowl, a white bunny bought from a carnival worker, a bird with a nasty disposition and numerous and nameless amphibious creatures my daughter has adopted over the years. Although both the rabbit and bird could have easily been devoured by Hera in one bite, she calmly let them sit on her back or on her nose with only a mild look of irritation.
If she had a weakness, it was her love of a neon green plastic ball, often covered in slobber, that she would drop at one’s feet in an attempt to entice them into a game of fetch.
Throw the ball and Hera would retrieve it, drop it at your feet and stare intently, tail wagging, until you indulged her with another round or 10. That ball was buried with Hera in my daughter’s backyard.
Hera was, simply put, 150 pounds of tremendous. She was queen of an animal menagerie – a queen that didn’t rule by intimidation or fear but by a quiet determination to protect what was hers, especially my daughter and granddaughter. She will be most assuredly missed.
Susan Campbell may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.