I have never considered myself a huge animal person. Although I’m not in “Michael Vick territory” by any means, I’m also not going to dress up my animals as humans. I’ve always felt that animals have their place in our lives and even though they have been proven to reduce stress and depression, they are still animals at the end of the day. Well, that’s quite the intro isn’t it?
I’m saddened to say that my family is one member short today and the Corgi sized hole in our hearts is aching.
Hanna, our Welsh Corgi, was my wife’s addition to our marriage, adopting her several months before our union. From the very beginning I couldn’t stand this overactive, always-up-in-your-business, short, stubby creature.
While we lived in Florida, I attempted to take Hanna out for a jog once. She just didn’t get it. She was so clingy and, wanting to be as close to you as she could, would clumsily end up darting between your feet. I ended up kicking her unintentionally several times. After maybe a half mile of this horrible idea, I finally just turned around and walked her home, never to attempt a run of that length again with her.
Hanna never seemed to grasp the concept of wrestling around (she was so small it’s not that surprising). There were never any games of fetch, never any tricks she would perform. She was a small dog that looked like someone had knocked off the second half of her legs, at the knees, and I relegated her to the small-dog-zone for years. It’s only the last couple of years that I finally started to show her full affection and return all the love she’d given to us. My wife and son had been giving and getting her affection from day one. Me? I’d only been getting it. She was my WIFE’S dog, of course.
See, here’s the thing I was guilty of. People have stereotypes for every thing out there, myself included. My stereotypical dog was absolutely nothing like what I got in Hanna. In my mind, I had envisioned a large, playful dog who would be up for jogs around the neighborhood, wrestling around on the ground, and the fiercest guard dog you had ever seen (as it was, Hanna would more than likely befriend any burglars and then lick them to death if needed). I had planned on having a true MAN’S dog. Needless to say I was in for a surprise, because what Hanna lacked in stature she more than made up for with her sweet nature and full-speed-ahead loving. What I had been planning would have been different than what I got.
What I hadn’t planned on was having a buddy to throw the extra bits of meat from the grill to when I was done cooking.
What I hadn’t planned on was having her ready, at a moments notice, for playtime with our nine year old, who is hurting just as badly as my wife and I.
What I hadn’t planned on was having somewhere furry to rest my hand as I sat on the back porch relaxing with her.
What I hadn’t planned on was seeing her ears perk up as soon as she knew we had returned home, peeking into the back door to see exactly where we were in the house and if we were coming to see her.
What I hadn’t planned on was seeing someone so, so, so, so happy to see my wife, son and I even if we just walked past her to take care of something else. She was just so thrilled to be around us.
What I hadn’t planned on was seeing her get so excited to see visitors -ANY visitors- that she would expend as much energy as she possibly could to jump. Maybe she thought if she could get higher you’d notice her more. She wanted you to notice her, she thrived on making new friends. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body and it was impossible not to like her, although I tried for years.
What I hadn’t planned on was loving the sound of her collar’s jingle as she came inside to sleep in the bathroom during the cold Arizona winter nights and then that same jingle when I let her back outside in the morning on my way to work. My wife and I both were so saddened to miss that sound this morning.
What I hadn’t planned on was how she would immediately come running for a nice ruffling of her ears, even after I scolded her to stop barking at every other dog that walked by the front yard. She held no grudges or pouting fits, EVER.
What I hadn’t planned on was her ability to finally mellow out and relax with you and while you were petting her. Wonder if she realized she’d better sit still and enjoy the moment while it lasted. I went out of my way the last year or so to make sure more and more of “those moments” were around when I was in the backyard. It helped that her energy over the last few months had really slowed down so her sprinting was happening less and less.
What I hadn’t planned on was that cute little way she would start tapping her rear right foot when I scratched her chest and petted her head, as if it was an involuntary tic.
What I hadn’t planned on was crying so hard while the vet discussed our options last night. I figured my wife and son would be in a bad way, but I assumed, as the man of the house, that I would be above it.
What I hadn’t planned on was the desire to continue petting her even after she was gone last night. I only wanted another five minutes to tell her how pretty she was, how much of a good girl she was, how happy she made us.
What I hadn’t planned on was seeing her dish full of food last night after we got home and then breaking down into full body sobbing, the full dish being my wife’s first indication yesterday morning that something was wrong. Hanna didn’t leave food uneaten, EVER.
What I hadn’t planned on was having such a hard time today looking at the little “trails” through the rocks she’d blazed in the backyard from her sprinting back and forth.
What I hadn’t planned on was her unconditional love.
There are quite a few things I hadn’t planned on with Hanna, but I’m glad she was part of our family. That Corgi sized hole in our hearts will take some time to heal, and even though it may shrink, it will never go away.
Rest In Peace, Hanna.