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.



  1. So very sorry for your loss...heavens gain! I am so very sympathetic with you and yours, we sent two of our girl-dales across TRB. I will tell you that Hannah is with the best of company right now as she meets and greets our Samantha and Ginger there. In our thoughts!

    1. Thank you. I'm so sorry for your loss, too.

  2. Oh Nancy. I have tears in my eyes and my heart hurts for you. Hannah had the very best life with you and she knew that she was truly loved. Huge hugs to you♥

  3. Oh noes. I am so sorry. What a lovely tribute to your gurl. Ma had to stop reading it cause her heart was breaking, so she is back to gives you lots of loves and {{{hugs}}} and AireZens. Hannah chose you to spend her life with, and you did not disappoint. You gave her the furever home she so truly deserved. ♥ We are thinking of you and have Hannah in our hearts too....
    Ruby ♥

  4. What a beautiful story that brought tears in my eyes. Thank you for rescuing her in the first place, giving her a loving family and unconditionally loving her. Sounds like she went over the rainbow happy and being loved. My heart goes out to you.. Many hugs from Vancouver, Canada


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