What can I say about a dog who entered my life 13 years ago, a dog who was beaten, underweight and afraid of normal surroundings but when I looked into her eyes I knew this 8 month old pup was coming home with me. You see, she was the first dog that the newly formed shelter that I was involved with rescued and there was something special about this dog. So I called Craig and thanked him for my new dog and told him that Calla, our chocolate Labrador needed a friend. Well friends they became, they were inseparable and it was one of the best decisions I had made in my life.
Hannah was a lot of work in the beginning of her new life with us as she was so scared of everything. She was terrified of her food dish, I truly believed that her previous owner hit her with a dish. It took weeks for her to trust me and to finally eat out of her dish. After a couple of weeks of having her I enrolled her in obedience classes and from there she gained her confidence and her true personality come out. In my eyes she was the ideal 'student', she was eager to learn and in the true personality of a Labrador she lived to please. She was in obedience classes most of her life, until we moved to Nunavut. She enjoyed it as much as I did and it was our time together without any of our other dogs.
She had some major surgeries in her life, two spine surgeries as she had lumbosacral stenosis, a painful condition caused by a narrowing of the spinal column. We made many road trips together from Winnipeg to the University of Saskatoon for vet appointments and surgeries as there was no vet in Manitoba at that time that could do the surgery. Lucky for us Hannah was a candidate for the research and the university paid for the majority of the surgeries needed to get her back on her feet. By the age of 6 years she was good as new.
Hannah had this personality that drew people in and whoever met her...loved her. I always called her my Flower Child because of her loving demeanour. She got along well with other dogs and anyone she met. She didn't have a mean bone in her body - well unless you tried to take her temperature rectally. Because of this personality I knew she would excel as a St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dog and she passed the test with flying colours. We enjoyed our visits with seniors and kids at school where we taught them about basic animal care, bite prevention and just how to have some fun with you canine friend. She was also a canine blood donor through the Canadian Animal Blood Bank and at the age of 10 she retired after giving 25 donations. All in all Hannah was the perfect canine citizen.
I will miss those milk chocolate dipped ears of hers and the way that she would push away from you when you tried to give her a big hug, her soft eyes when she looked at you and will miss seeing her laying at the opened bathroom door when I come out of the shower. I will miss her ball-in-the-mouth greetings and the excitement when we arrive home from work. Blitz and Molly are also feeling the loss, they are both quiet which is not like the shorthairs. We are trying to keep them busy to take their mind off of that feeling that something is missing, it helps us and them.
We spent her last few hours of her life enjoying some of her favorite things to eat, like peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, ice cream and grapefruit. Yes she loved sharing a grapefruit with us and that was that last thing she ate while laying the warm Manitoba sun at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg. I couldn't of asked for a better day for her, for that matter we all enjoyed the days in Manitoba as we went for walks along the Carman Diversion, one of her favorite places to go and just spent some quiet time with her. We were a bit worried that she would have a major seizure after her vet sedated her and all of us were so gratefully that she didn't. I wanted to let her go with some dignity and most of all peaceful and that was exactly what she did, in our arms and surrounded by people that loved her.
I would like to thank all of our family and friends for your love and support, to her vet Dr. Jillian Preston and Mela who followed us to the end of Hannah's journey. To Drs. Andrea Robertson and Phillip Schott for always being there when we needed them and to everyone at Birchwood Animal Hospital for all of your love towards Hannah. I would also like to say thank you to my GSP family who never met her but took her under their wings, gave her the title of Honorary GSP and loved her as their own.
Some of you have been asking if there was a charity where you can donate in the memory of Hannah and there are two, these organization do good work to better the lives of animals. One is the Companion Animal Health Fund, this is the organization who helped Hannah with her spine surgeries. The link is http://words.usask.ca/cahf/ Another organization that is dear to our hearts is the Canadian Animal Blood Bank where Hannah donated blood on a regular basis until she retired and their link is http://www.rrc.mb.ca/?pid=106 There are a couple of emails on this link that you can email to receive more information.
Part of my healing from the loss of Hannah started about a month ago when we decided to let her go. I had been going through 13 years of pictures of her as I wanted to do a slide show as a tribute to her life. Here is the link on YouTube of the video.