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!


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Hannah Meets the Neighbor Cat (through the fence)

We had been fostering Hannah for a few weeks in late May, 2008, when she and the neighbor cat happened to be outside at the same time.  They were separated by a fence, which we thought a good thing.  It was clear she was interested in the cat, and the cat in her, but we didn't know what to expect.  Would she sniff, growl, snarl, try to lunge through the fence?

Hannah followed the cat as it walked along the fence, clearly curious about this creature with four paws.

The cat feigned disinterest in Hannah and interest in something in the distance.

Still, the cat rubbed along the fence as if trying to tempt Hannah into more than looking and sniffing.

Or perhaps it was just trying to be friendly in a cat sort of way.

When Hannah didn't do any more than watch, the cat sauntered to its tree and laid down.

At the time we didn't know how Hannah would do with cats but we know that if she moved to a forever home that wasn't ours, her new owners would want to know.  Our home became her forever home, of course, so it didn't matter because we didn't have a cat.

A number of years later her human sister married and moved to a farm where they had a cat.  We took Hannah to visit.  She and the cat greeted and that was that.  (She greeted the chickens in an equally calm manner.)

Two years ago Hannah's other human sister adopted two tiny kittens and brought them home for a visit.  We thought Hannah would be fine with them but we were cautious since the kittens were so tiny.  She was fine.  In the photo below Jack is crawling over her to play with a strip of fabric.

Unlike some Airedales we've known, Hannah seemed to love most other creatures.  We thought it a wonderful attribute.  She did, however, draw the line at Jack's sister, Jane, cleaning her ears or messing with her paws.  A low growl and we moved Jane to some other activity.  We didn't think it fair that aged Hannah should have to move.

How I miss her and her furry face!


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 suggests 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.