Monday, November 25, 2019

So Fast!

Hannah loved a good tuckbuttrun around the yard.

Faster!  Faster!
We cheered her on, encouraging her to pick up speed.

She was too fast for my camera!
Or maybe I just didn't click the button fast enough.

She studiously ignores me.
"I see you have a camera.
I'm not going to look at you."

And she didn't -- until I put the camera away.

Dear Hannah!


Thursday, October 31, 2019


There's no treat tonight, just a trick of the camera to make Hannah's eyes glow.

Happy Halloween!

--Nancy. (without Hannah)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Names, Nicknames, and Endearments

Hannah was the name we most often used.  No sense confusing an Airegirl who doesn't know her name by using several different names. 

But after she learned her name, we sometimes called her Bana or Hannah-Bana.  She responded to both.

She had such a gentle, sweet spirit, so concerned about pleasing us and staying out of trouble that I didn't have the heart to call her an unkind name, even if only in play.  Somehow I sensed her spirit would understand.

But endearments.  Yes, she was Sweetie, .....

And sometimes we called her Ferdinand.

She would ask to go outside, then find a spot in the sun on a cool day, or a spot in the shade on a warm day, and just lie there watching the world go by.

Dear girl.

(This post was written about five months after we said good-bye to Hannah.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Hannah at Play in the Leaves

It was such fun to see Hannah play so wholeheartedly!  There's a toy hidden in the leaves, one she tosses, loses in the leaves, digs for, then tosses again, and again, and again....

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

And the object of her interest?  Can you see it in the photo below?

Airedale Hannah playing in the leaves

Here it is. 

A life-like rubber frog!  She loved this frog (as long as it lasted). 

When Hannah felt safe, we saw her youthful exuberance.  These photos were taken when she was 2½, in November, 2008, about six months after she came to live with us.  She'd gained about 6 or 8 pounds (up from about 50 pounds) and was looking good.  She may look overweight but she wasn't.  We learned that her hair grew fast and already needed another clip.

How I love that girl!  Forever missing Hannah.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Eleven Years and So Few Good Photos

Hannah was with us more than 11 years, more than 132 months, more than 4,015 days.  How can it be that I have fewer than 700 photographs of her, most of them either out of focus, with her head turned away, her body in motion, or multiples/slight variations of the same image?

February 20, 2009
She came with lots of fears but one of them did not seem to be the camera.  Yet it didn't take her but a few weeks to decide she would not pose for photographs.  She would have the cutest expression or the funniest post, I'd pull out the camera.  She would look straight at the camera then just at the moment when I pushed the button, she would pull her ears back and look away.  These photos show Hannah's camera avoidance techniques.

October 27, 2011
October 27, 2011 - the second try
October 31, 2011
January 2, 2012 - cropped from a larger photo
January 20, 2014
March 17, 2014, first try
March 17, 2014, second try

You may be wondering if I tried using food to get Hannah's attention.  I did!  I was never successful in keeping her attention focused long enough to take a good photo and I often ended up with nose smudges on the camera.

I'm grateful to have a few good photos.

How I miss this darling girl.  I wish I could hold her sweet face in my hands again and give her a kiss on the muzzle, give her an ear rub, and hug the heck out of her.

Missing Hannah.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Happy National Dog Day

These are a few of my favorite photos of Hannah for National Dog Day today.

Unwrapping a Christmas gift

Getting ready to grab a toy from the floor

Exuberant play with flowers that aren't hers
Just relaxing
Comfy for a nap
A long-distance ride in the car
Wanna play?
Older Hannah after a bath

How I love her and her beautiful, furry face.  How I miss Hannah.

I hope you hug your Airedale or other dog today for National Dog Day!


Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Game Hannah Made Up

Besides playing tug with the soft rubber toy and catching it -- after she learned to catch popcorn -- Hannah made up a new game.  Sadly, I don't have a video of us playing her game but I'll describe it.

Hannah would bring the toy to me and offer it to play tug.  We tugged for a bit but if it got boring and she let go first and I got it, I would have her sit and tell her to catch, then toss it to her.

She would await the toss.  Usually she caught it and we'd play tug again.  But there were times when, instead of catching it and playing tug, she would use her nose to bounce it back to me.  The first time it happened I was totally surprised.  Really, Hannah, you can do that?!  She was teaching me a new game.  Her aim was pretty good, too, because I rarely had to run after it.  Sometimes I could predict when she would bounce it instead of catching it -- there would be the slightest twitch of her nose.  Other times I had no idea whether the ball would come back to me or she'd catch it.

Occasionally, once in a while, we would toss the ball back and forth several times in a row without anyone catching it or it dropping to the ground.  I was always surprised and impressed that she was able to do this and that she'd made up the game herself.  We called it bounce-n-catch.

Airedales are so creative!

How I love Hannah and loved having her as part of my life!


Monday, July 15, 2019


Hannah loved these soft, rubber, squeaky toys with long tails.  She seemed to like the white ones best but sometimes we bought other colors.  She went through a lot of them through the years.

She liked to chew on them to make them squeak, bounce them, and play tug with them.  But two can only tug for long before getting bored and the game's over.

She'd been with us a few months when I thought this toy might be a good way to teach Hannah a new word.  I tossed it into the air toward her and said, "Catch."  It bounced off her muzzle onto the floor and she looked at me with a puzzled expression.  She may even have thought, "Why are you throwing my toy at me?"

It takes time and some repetition to teach a new word or command, so I tossed and said "catch" again, with the same result.  No matter that the toy was super soft and wouldn't hurt her, I didn't want to keep hitting her with it so we stopped.

I always thought dogs inherently knew how to catch but they don't.  I suppose many dogs learn the command as puppies but Hannah hadn't.

A few days later I was eating popcorn and realized it could be the perfect way to teach "catch" because it was so lightweight and would also be appealing to Hannah.  I called her to where I was, had her sit, and said "catch" as I tossed a piece of popcorn toward her.  It landed on her muzzle -- and stayed there.  I think her eyes crossed as she tried to see it.  I lifted it off and gave it to her.  I tossed again and the same thing happened, at least six or eight times.  By that time, she was panting and waiting for me to give her a piece of popcorn to eat.

I suddenly realized that I should just try tossing the popcorn into her open mouth.  If my aim were good enough and it landed in her mouth, I hoped she would get the idea of what the word meant even if she hadn't technically caught it.  I missed a few times and she ate the popcorn when I handed it to her.  Finally, once, the popcorn landed in her mouth.  She looked surprised, and then I saw that she'd made the connection between the word "catch" and what it meant.  Catching suddenly became a fun game. 

From then on, if we had popcorn, Hannah believed that she should have popcorn, too.  It was one of the few foods she begged for.

We always shared it with her.  And if we bought fresh popcorn at the store, we were careful to save her some.

No matter how happy a memory is, it can be sad to recall it knowing there won't be any new memories.  As always, I'm missing Hannah.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Talking to Hannah

I have a friend whose husband claimed there was no sense talking to a dog because dogs couldn't understand words.  He didn't know Hannah.

Hannah learned commands, of course, and she also seemed to understand more words and language than I ever purposefully taught her, though I don't know how.  Perhaps it was because I talked to her throughout the day, telling her what I was doing, where I was going, what was going to happen next, what I was thinking.

When we rode in the car I learned that if I told her, "Hang on, Hannah, we're turning left (or right)," she would lean against the turn so she wouldn't lose her balance. 

When we were leaving I would tell her whether we'd be back in a little while or we'd be gone for half the day, or most of the day.  She settled in differently depending on which I said.  Eventually, we began giving her a kong with peanut butter when we were going to be gone most of the day.

During the last year or two year she lost most of her hearing except for very loud sounds.  It was hard because she could no longer hear my explanations of what was happening, or what was going to happen next.  She couldn't respond to any commands unless she could see hand signs.  I didn't mind having to get her attention by petting her but I felt sad for her because she seemed so isolated from the general conversation in our home, as if she'd been left out.

Her last day was the hardest.  When she woke up she couldn't move even enough to stand, but she was alert and interested in what was going on.  She looked at us as if to ask, "What are we going to do today?  What's happening next?"  It broke my heart to see her alert and know she wouldn't be with us later in the day.

And it broke my heart not to be able to explain this last visit to the vet, what would happen there, and tell her how sorry I was and how much I loved her.  I wish I could have explained that I wasn't leaving her, that I would come find her when I get to where she was going, that there were other Airedales waiting there to meet her.  I wish I could have explained about the separation of body and spirit, about going to the vet, about needles and sleeping and death. 

We Airedale lovers like to imagine our 'dales waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge, happy and carefree, without pain, and playing with other Airedales.  I hope that's true for Hannah.  But she really didn't enjoy playing with other dogs, or even humans, for that matter.  She loved me and the rest of her family but she didn't enjoy other people or dogs.  (At the dog park she would walk to the outer perimeter and sniff along it, ignoring the other dogs, including the Airedales.)  Instead of imagining her happy, I imagine her lying alone, watching what's going on, but not participating because she's lonely and waiting for the people she loves.

There have been a few times in my life when I've wished I could turn back the clock.  This is one of those times.  I would turn it back a dozen years and begin life with young Hannah all over again.  How I miss my dear girl! 


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What Do You Want?

Early on, when Hannah first arrived knowing no language, I began teaching her words and commands.  Come, sit, down, wait, out, stay, go pee, go poop, etc.  But she learned other words and language, too.  I guess she learned to associate words with what happened when or after I said the words.  She knew what a toe clip and a brush were.  She knew the names of treats she liked such as Neccos and biscuits.  And she knew the names of some of the games we played.

Sometimes when she was bored and I'd been doing something too long (in her opinion), perhaps sitting at the computer or sewing machine, she would walk up to me, sit down, and stare.

I would ask a series of questions until I got a response.
"What do you want, Hannah?" I would ask.
She would continue staring.

"Do you want a toe clip?"
No response.

"Do you want to go lie on the couch?"
No response.

"Do you want to play Hide-n-Seek?"
No response.

"Do you want a Necco?"
No response.

"Do you want to go for a walk?"
No response.

"Do you want to play Find-It?"
She would stand and begin bouncing around as if to say, "Yes, yes, yes, please!  I want to play Find-It!"

We would both go to the kitchen where she would sit and watch me take down the treat box.  I would tell her to stay then go into another room where I would hide 4 or 6 biscuit halves.  Then I would call to her "Come find it!"  She would race into the room with her nose ready to sniff out the treats.  The game didn't last long but she enjoyed it.

To be accurate, her response was never the same from one time to the other.  She nearly never wanted a toe clip but sometimes she wanted a brush or a Necco or to play hide-n-seek or some of the other things I offered her.  What an independent thinker she was!

If only we could play find-it a few more times.  How I miss dear Hannah.


Monday, June 24, 2019

The Games Hannah Played: The Cupcake Tin Game

One of the games we occasionally played with Hannah was the Cupcake Tin Game.   I put treats in some of the cups and tennis balls in most of the cups, including the ones with treats.  She had to figure out which cups had treats and remove the balls to get to them.  The balls were covered by more than half of the tin so it was a challenge to get them out. 

This wasn't Hannah's favorite game but she enjoyed it enough that we played it occasionally.

How I wish I could play any game with Hannah again!