Thursday, June 20, 2019

Hannah: Early Fostering Days

When a foster Airedale comes to stay nearly everything is an unknown.  Does she (or he) growl, bark, bite?  Steal food?  Counter surf?  Outside, does she jump fences to run away or stay close to hand?  Does she like and get along with other animals, especially cats?  What about children?  We try to learn as much as we can.

On May 12, 2008, the day after Hannah came,  we took her outside on a long line for some playtime to see how she would do.  I hoped she would not try to run away but we didn't want to take any chances. 

We were grateful she stayed close, interested in being with us.

I think her expression suggest worry, concern, apprehension -- all of which were the case with her during her first days with us. 

She was such a skinny girl, long, tall, and leggy, at only about 50 pounds.

She was interested in the ball and saw play potential.

I love the partial play-bow.

We learned that Hannah wasn't interested in jumping the fence or running away that day and that she was interested in playing.

How I wish I could turn the clock back ten years.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Little Memories of Hannah

Hannah, 2008
We have cherry trees in our back yard (but, sadly, only winter photos).  They are horribly overgrown and at least one or two branches hang close to the ground -- and have for years.  We've thought about cutting them back but never have.  Some springs the branches are laden with cherries.  We often went outside to see Hannah picking and eating cherries, pulling them from the branches with her mouth, one after the other.  I think Hannah loved cherry season when cherries were free for the picking.

On warm spring and summer days Hannah enjoyed laying in the grass, sometimes in the sun.  When she was first here it was a surprise to us to pet her and find her skin and hair damp.  We decided it was sweat.  She's the only dog I've ever known to sweat.  We mentioned this to her vet and he said dogs don't sweat.  We dropped the conversation at that point because it would have required us to return to the office when she was hot and sweaty.  We tried to keep her cool enough not to sweat.  It's a pretty unusual thing about Hannah.

That Wild Outdoor Smell
In the colder months, and sometimes in the warm months, too, when Hannah came inside after being out for 10 or so minutes, her fur had an awful smell to it.  She hadn't rolled in anything awful, it was just a smell on her fur.  It was wild odor and clung to her almost as if the air and wind carried it and attached it to Hannah's fur.  Thank goodness it didn't last longer than a few minutes when she came inside.

Toeclips and Toepads
Hannah never liked to have her toes clipped, and she needed it more than any other Airedale we've had.  Her toenails and fur grew so fast.  I tried to clip her toes every week or two but I never succeeded in getting them short enough for her to walk on the tips of her toes like some Airedales do.  When she first came to us her paw pads were very soft.  We guessed it was because she had been confined by a chain to a short area around her dog house.  They became more leathery as we took her for walks.

Dear, dear Hannah.  How I wish she were still here.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

To Get My Attention

My daughter and I were talking about Hannah's big paw slaps the other day and she reminded me of two other things Hannah did to get my attention.

If I were wearing long sleeves and Hannah wanted me to do something different than what I was doing, she would grab a section of my sleeve and pull.  She was so insistent about it, almost as if saying, "You stop what you are doing NOW and do what I want you to do."  It was pretty much impossible to resist.  She held the fabric tightly and if, perchance, I were sitting in a chair with wheels, she would pull me along on the chair.  She usually got her way.

The other thing Hannah did -- when I had short sleeves -- was to pinch the least bit of my skin between her teeth.  Those pinches certainly elicited a reaction from me!  I don't know how she could pinch such a tiny bit of skin with her big teeth but she did, and it hurt.  She was efficient in making known what she didn't want me to be doing.

I wish I had photos of these two behaviors but, sadly, I don't.

I'm missing my Hannah.  I keep hoping it will get easier but no matter where I walk in the house there's something to remind me of her -- some game we played, some place she slept, something particular she did, some food she ate . . . . 


Saturday, June 8, 2019

"Ouch! That Hurt!"

On occasional evenings I sat at the computer working on family history or writing a blog post or a letter and Hannah would come stand at my side for a minute.   I was focused on what I was doing and was just barely aware of her.

Then suddenly she raised her huge paw and slapped it down across my arm.  My response was usually, "Ouch!  That hurt!  Don't do that again!"  I gave her a pet and a hug, then went back to typing. 

If you love or are loved by an Airedale, you probably know what happened next. 

She gave me a big paw slap again!  My response was the same the second time, except I usually added, "Hannah, if you can give me just five more minutes to finish this, I can spend time with you."  And I went back to typing.

Once again, a big paw slap!  "Okay, Hannah, let's go do something together."  And off we went.  She was happy to have my attention.

What I would give for a big paw slap as I sit here typing this post!  Dear, dear Hannah.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Give Paw

I do not have small, dainty hands:  they are short and wide.  And Hannah's paw could nearly cover them.  She  had the biggest paws of any Airedale I've ever met.  She was not a particularly large 'dale -- maybe a little tall but comfortable at 58-60 pounds.  But her paws were huge!  I guess they matched her heart.

Early on I taught her "Give paw."  It didn't take her long to learn it.  She did it with great energy, almost like a paw slap instead of a gentle resting of her paw in mine.  She gave everyone in our family her paw but never anyone else.  Give paw was not a greeting for her, not like a handshake, but a show of trust.

Less than a year after she'd been in our home she'd settled in and felt completely comfortable lying on the couch with paws crossed.  I laughed out loud the first time I saw her like this.  And then felt grateful that she felt comfortable and safe enough to relax so completely.

She sometimes used her big paws to give paw slaps.  Ouch!  Those are part of another story.

Hannah never liked toe clips, though she endured them.  Her toenails grew incredibly fast.

During her last days her paws became swollen but never seemed painful to her -- thank goodness!

This is one of the last photos I took.... Wouldn't I love to hold Hannah's paw again!


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Aire-Angel Hannah

Airedale Hannah

Hannah came to us as a rescue girl in 2008 when she was two.  We'd never fostered an Airedale with a background like Hannah's -- neglect, abuse, tied to a tree with her brother -- but we decided to give it a try.  I cleared my schedule so I could devote my time to her. 

Airedale Hannah
My younger daughter and I drove to Kim Z.'s to get Hannah (who, at the time, was Maggie, though it didn't matter because she didn't know her name anyway).  As I drove home she drooled and panted, symptoms I didn't then recognize as carsickness.  After I pulled into the driveway and opened the door, we helped her out.  When we came to the steps into the breezeway, she stopped.  She had no idea what to do.  But there was worse to come.

We learned that she was afraid of everything--steps, doors, kitchen utensils, the computer mouse, lights, the TV, a sheet of paper, a change in flooring, men, hands, noises....  If it moved, she was afraid.  We could see it when she tried to move away or hide, and worse, we could see the fear in her eyes.  And did I mention that she wasn't housebroken, didn't know her name, and didn't recognize any English words?  She was pretty much a blank slate.  By the time I knew these things I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into and feeling the desire to move this Aire-girl to a forever home as soon as possible.  Particularly one that wasn't mine.

That first night I was a little nervous for our oak floors (which don't fare well with dog pee) but I wanted her to feel comfortable and safe.  I chose the room across the hall from the kitchen to sleep.  We lifted the rug and laid plastic underneath to protect the floors, then added some blankets and Hannah's bed.  She and I settled on the floor for the night.  I'm sure it had been a stressful day for her.  She nestled into me and fell asleep.  I didn't sleep well but she slept like a baby.

When the sun rose the next morning Hannah yawned, stretched, almost smiled, and did a little playbow.  Her eyes were alight with joy and, dare I say it, love.  I sensed that she recognized me as pack leader and felt that she belonged to this new place in her world.  That was when I began to fall in love with Hannah.

Unlike most Airedales, Hannah was an introvert.  At the dog park she wandered away to sniff on her own.  When visitors came she watched from another room.  When people approached her in the car and extended a hand for her to sniff it, she moved to the other side.  Probably because of early experiences she was wary of people she didn't know.  She always preferred me and when at home, moved with me from room to room.  The females in our family became her pack and, eventually, she included my husband.

Airedale Hannah
We knew a few weeks ago that her time with us was coming to an end.  In December she was diagnosed with kidney disease, spindle cell/soft tissue sarcoma, and lymphoma.  From the time a dog is diagnosed with lymphoma to end of life is usually 4 to 6 weeks.  We had the blessing of six months with her after diagnosis.  Losing a beloved Airedale is sad beyond words--heart-breaking, really--but for me, having to choose the time to say good-bye was wretched.  I wish that duty had been taken from my hands but it wasn't.  What made it harder was that she was alert and attentive (though extremely limited physically).

As Hannah's abilities decreased we scheduled her last visit to the vet for this morning.  I spent most of last night on the kitchen floor nestled next to her.  I didn't want her to feel alone and I especially wanted her to know that she was--and is--loved.  It seemed like we'd come full circle.

Being Hannah's adoptive mom has been one of the best experiences of my life -- both a blessing and a joy.  How I love her!  And how I miss her!!!

There's a new Aire-Angel in Heaven today.  And my heart is broken.


Monday, May 20, 2019

National Rescue Dog Day

Today, May 20, is National Rescue Dog Day.  Our Hannah is a rescued Airedale so we're celebrating her today.

We rescued her (or perhaps she rescued us) 11 years ago when she was just two years old!   She turned 13 in March.   Hannah's the dearest Airedale ever and I love her to bits.

I'm beyond sad that her life is coming to an end as she deals with lymphoma, kidney disease, and another cancer.  She sleeps a lot and the past two days she's been moving slower than usual.  Last night, when I asked her if she wanted to go upstairs to bed, she said she did but then she wobbled and fell.  I knew I couldn't carry her up the stairs (or down in the morning) so she slept in the kitchen.  Today her balance seems good, though she continues to move slowly.  She enjoys her food and sometimes finds a toy to play with.  

I always thought it would be easier to know in advance that the end was coming but it's not.  It's just a different kind of pain to suffer through.

Dear Hannah has never liked to be photographed so we have very few good ones.  She pulls her ears back, or turns her head at the last minute, or just refuses to look at the camera or person holding the camera.  I'm grateful for the few good photographs we have!

If you have a rescue dog, celebrate today!


Friday, April 5, 2019

Dr. 'Dale

My mum and pop found this Airedale hanger at a little antique shop.  They didn't buy it but mum snapped a photo. 

She calls him Dr. 'Dale even though the name on his scrubs shirt says "Dr. Appell."  She said she's sure his first name is 'Dale so he's Dr. 'Dale to her.

I would like an Airedale doctor but I don't think I would like Dr. 'Dale.  He doesn't look very friendly or welcoming or happy to me. Too serious.  We Airedales who have health problems need doctors who are happy, friendly, enthusiastic, and also sympathetic.  Maybe he would get lots of patients if he smiled a little.

I hope you are healthy and don't have to visit your vet very often.

--from Hannah.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Happy Birthday to Hannah!

Our dear and adorable Hannah turned 13 today. 

She's a rescue girl who's been with us for nearly 11 years.  We are thrilled that she's still with us considering that in early December, when we learned her diagnosis of lymphoma, another cancer, and kidney disease, we wondered if she'd be with us in January!  We count every day with Hannah as a bonus and a blessing.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Sweet Hannah!   How we love you!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

I Had to Beg -- Postively Beg!

I see what you have, Pop.
Don't you think you should share?

My pop knows I love cheese corn.
But do you think he offered me any?

He usually tosses pieces to me to catch
but this time I had to beg and beg!
When I beg I just stare at what I want.
And finally, finally, he gave me some.

I think Airedales with cancer
should get everything they want,
whenever they want it without begging.
Don't you?

from Hannah.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Meeting Willow at Ikea

How often do you meet a live Airedale at a store?  In my experience, not often, but while my daughter and I were wandering through Ikea the other day we were surprised to see a furry, black and tan Airedale.

Airedale Willow at Ikea

She was wearing a halter with "In Training" on the side so, before petting her, I asked if we could greet her.  Her owners hesitated just a second then said yes.  I told them that we had an Airedale, Hannah, at home.  I asked if I could take some photos and they said sure, but when I pulled out the camera, I realized that Willow and Hannah have in common a dislike of being photographed.  Willow turned her head for most every photo.

Airedale Willow at Ikea

We learned that her name is Willow and that she was a breeder rescue when she was about 8 weeks old.  The breeder found that Willow's mother, one of his dogs, had been bred and was tied outside along with four puppies.  Willow's owner said the breeder took the dogs back and found homes for them.

Willow and Hannah sounded so much alike when they first arrived at home:  fearful of everything and lack of knowledge of so much that most puppies learn early in their lives.  Willow's owners have been working with her since she came to them nearly three years ago to help her become a well-adjusted Airedale and become a Canine Good Citizen.

Airedale Willow at Ikea

Visiting Ikea was part of her training.  She was such an obedient girl and seemed unruffled by anything.  Her owner said that she'd learned how to give hugs:  kneel down and pat your shoulder.  How sweet to receive a hug from Willow.

We all agreed that Airedales are the very best dogs in the world!


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

You Can Still Hope Until....

You can still hope the vet is wrong -- at least until the results of the tests come in.  And then there are just tears and sadness.  Now we face the reality. 

In mid- December we received some of the saddest news an Airedale owner wants to hear.  Nearly a week after Hannah's visit to the vet, the vet called with test results.  Hannah has kidney disease, spindle cell/soft tissue sarcoma, and lymphoma/lymphosarcoma.   

The spindle cell cancer is slow to spread.  But the lymphoma is another story.  It could take Hannah's life in as little as six weeks and she could go from doing well in the morning to being on her deathbed in the evening.  It's an awful prognosis.

I go through my days now wondering, which will be the last carrot I peel and chop for her breakfast?  Which will be the last night Hannah cuddles against me on the bed?  Is this playtime the last I'll see her bounce around and toss her toy in the air?   

Hannah's first two years left her with a broken spirit and a fear of everything and nearly everyone.  When she came to us she was underweight, knew no language--not even her name, had no idea how to go up and down stairs, and got carsick with every ride.  She loved me first, maybe because I slept on the floor with her the first night, and adopted me as her mum.  We were just going to foster her but I couldn't put her through one more transition.  She's been with us 10 years, going on 11, and has adjusted to so many challenges.  It's all just too sad to think her life will end with cancer.

We love Hannah to bits and continue to enjoy our time with her, whether she's sleeping near me on the couch, watchful for food that's fallen to the floor, nudging me for an ear-rub or a treat, or just playing.  She is a dear, sweet Airedale.

I wish I could turn back the clock to before the test results, when there was still hope.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Visit to the Vet

My mum and pop took me to see my vet last week.  My mum usually takes me so I was surprised that my pop went along, too.

I like going to see this new vet because I get big, long, thick pretzels with peanut butter or cheeze whiz on them.  Oh, yum!  I don't pay too much attention to what they're doing when I'm licking the good stuff off the pretzel.

They didn't hurt me even though they put needles in me and took stuff out of me, in my neck and the big lump on my thigh.  And then the lump started bleeding and my mum was alarmed, but the vet and the other person took care of it all.  And I just kept licking the cheeze whiz off another pretzel. 

Mum and pop looked a little worried but I felt just fine.  Then we left and came home and they gave me lots of hugs.

I don't know what that was about but I sure love those pretzels with stuff on them.


P.S.  If you want to know, I'm not wearing a muzzle.  It's a Gentle Leader collar.  It's supposed to keep me from pulling but sometimes I pull when I'm wearing it.  There's so much to sniff!

Nancy here:
Hannah was scheduled to have surgery last Wednesday to have her teeth cleaned and have a mass removed from her thigh.  When the vets did a pre-surgery exam they decided the better course was to do blood work for her kidney values and take samples from the lump on her thigh and from her lymph nodes to send for testing.  They -- and we -- have health concerns for Hannah.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

One Thing I Wish I'd Taught Hannah

Hannah in January, 2017
Hannah, nearly 13, has lost her hearing.  Most sounds escape her attention thought she will usually respond to a loud clap of the hands or the beeping of a smoke alarm.  No knocks at the door, no thunder, no sirens disturb her days nor her naps.  She lives in a silent world.

I sometimes think she misses hearing our voices.  I've always talked to Hannah to explain where we're going, what's going to happen next, who's coming over, to tell her what I'm doing, etc.  In the car I let her know when a left turn or a right turn was coming so she could adjust her balance, and she always did.  Some people think dogs don't understand but I'm certain Hannah understood a lot of what I said.   

When she first arrived as a rescue girl I taught her hand signs at the same time I taught voice commands.  It wasn't a purposeful decision, just something that seemed to add interest to her life.  She knows both the voice commands and hand signs for sit, down, stay, come, and wait.  (She's an Airedale so, of course, she's not always reliable, but she knows them and usually does as asked.)

But now that she's deaf, I realize I neglected to teach her a hand sign for Good Dog! or Good Girl!  I don't know what it would have looked like but I believe she misses hearing those exuberant words.  Even though she's deaf I still talk to her.  "What a good girl you are, Hannah!"  Or, "What a great job you just did."  She gets plenty of pets to go along with the "good girl" but I sense that she misses hearing it.  I wish I'd taught her a hand sign so she could know when we say it.  Even more I wish Hannah could still hear.

What a great, good, dear girl Hannah is!

--Hannah's mum.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Airedale Pooper Scooper

My mum is always on the look-out for Airedales everywhere she goes.

She found this cute Airedale  . . .

on the tag of this pooper scooper. 

We are the cutest dogs but why would they put 
one of us on a tag for a pooper scooper?
By the way, Mum didn't buy one.