Sunday, May 8, 2011

Remembering Hannah

September 17, 1996- April 16, 2011

For over ten years, I have cared for Jody’s pets, and Hannah has always been part of the family. She was one of my first California pet sitting clients, and I learned a lot from my visits to Hannah’s home. Hannah was the one consistent thing I encountered on every visit, while at times chaos swirled around her. (More on that in a second)

Hannah has passed away, and Jody is heartbroken. So am I. I remember our long walks around the neighborhood, inspecting gardens and gathering clippings from friendly neighbors. Hannah was always wary of me at first, but once I brought out the leash, she was ready to go. Our last few months, our walks were only to the mailbox and back. That was enough for our dear old girl.

I watched as Jody’s two kids grew up, Jody’s trials as a single mom, her working through nursing school, and most recently, as she fell in love and married. Jody commented that Hannah always watched over her. I told her maybe Hannah felt it was okay to go, now that Jody has Rick to care for her.

The adventures
Over the years, I cared for snakes, rats, fish and bunnies in Hannah and Jody’s household. I have pages of notes about their care.

Lesson #1: I remember putting a towel over the rat cage to keep them warm. The next morning, the towel was inside the cage and shredded to bits.

Lesson #2: Jody’s first cat was a white kitty named Molly with diabetes. I quickly learned that Molly turned into Cujo when she saw the needle coming. I learned to give her the insulin injection while she was eating. Quick and decisive, before she had the opportunity to turn and bite or scratch me. Ultimately, I wore a heavy jacket and garden gloves while I gave Molly her shot!

Lesson #3: Learn where the water main shut off is for each house you visit. New Year’s morning, I walk in the door and water is running down the stairs. The popcorn ceiling in the family room is soggy and dripping, with clods of stucco globbing up on the hardwood floor…which was buckled a foot into the air from all the moisture.

A bathroom pipe had broken in the night. Thanks to a helpful neighbor, I found the water shutoff behind a shelving unit in the garage. We called Jody, and the neighbor arranged for flood cleanup before Jody got home that night.

Lesson #4: Don’t blame the dog. Another morning visit. As I came in the front door, the house was in chaos. Cushions off the couch, wet carpet. “Hannah!” I chided her, “what did you do?” Then I spied the beer cans in the corner. Well, she obviously didn’t drink those herself.

Further on, in the family room, a window was broken, the TV screen was shattered. A toilet seat had been torn off and was in the hallway. I called the neighbor to see if they’d seen anything the night before. I started to leave a message saying I was going to call the police. Neighbor picks up and tells me the police came last night, and arrested a bunch of kids. Whew… Hannah looked at me like she was the guilty one. I’m sure the break-in upset her. She looked sorry that she couldn’t stop it.

Out back, there was a patio chair on top of the patio cover. Okay, I thought. There really must be easier ways to get in the house. The culprits were school friends that knew the family would be out of town.

Things calmed substantially as Jody’s kids grew up and went away to college. No more of the son’s snakes and fish tanks, no more high school shenanigans.

And sadly, no more Hannah. I will miss her. But I still get to visit the bunnies and the cats. 

Jody talks about Hannah
Hannah came into my life, our lives, and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made.  She has been my loyal companion for almost 15 years.  She was there by my side every step of the way.  Those who knew her well know of her issue with the vacuum, total knee shaking fear, to her stalking, I had to be in eye sight at all times, to her inability to walk on wood floors and her coping mechanism of walking backwards across them to get to safe ground aka the carpet. 

She never bit, barked inappropriately, or caused any major damage. She loved the kids, and all women.  Although for some reason she was always shy of men.  Except for one, my husband Rick. From the minute he stepped through the door she fell immediately in love.  I knew then that he really was a good man, because if Hannah like him he must really be as good as he seemed.  It became increasingly clear as time went by that she preferred his company to mine. But I didn’t mind. Who could blame her.  She was as love struck as I was. 

And so it goes, that life as a dog owner was as good as it gets. 

I was going to write about the last weeks we had together but I think I will stop here. 

I want people to know that she went quietly to where dogs go.  We held her, and we looked into each others eyes until the end.  We told her how much we loved her and how good she was. And then she was gone.  The doctor said that she was ready.  That in all his experience he knew by watching her that she was ready.  Some people say that some dogs stay longer than they want to because they are worried about their human.  I think Hannah was staying because she was worried about all of us. 

The past couple of days have been sad but I am somewhat relieved that she is comfortable now.  That life is no longer a struggle for her.

The sounds in the house come and go.  A sigh, a bark. I think she is checking in on us.  Watching over us as she always did.  She was a really good dog.
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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.


pet mom 1 said...

Thank you for sharing this touching story!

Terry Albert said...

I have found that so many people have owned that once in a lifetime dog, and it helps to write about her, so she will be remembered. It's important to honor their passing. I certainly have written my own tributes.

Notcathy @ Comfy Control Harness said...

Hi, I know that Hannah was wonderful dog she will be fine wherever she's now. We will miss you Hannah..