Thrust itself into the center of my universe. It came barreling toward me at the mightiest of speeds, captured a dream and materialized it.
Somewhere in Oklahoma a little pup was born nine years ago. And because none of us truly knows her birthdate, we estimated her age, at rescue, to be somewhere around three months of age. It was decided we would choose Valentines Day as her ‘given’ birthdate, knowing that we would always want to celebrate her birthday day, and we would need a date to mark her years for health and medical concerns.
Princess Hannah, full of Grace, Hoberg, was initially rescued by her folks. They resided in a house right off campus (Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK), a few houses away from her owner. Somehow they were uneasy about her living situation, and fearing that she was not in the best of hands, they took it upon themselves to ‘politely’ introduce themselves one day to the man who was her owner. Evidently the guy offered them a visit into the home so they could pet the pup. Amongst an array of filth and empty beer cans they inquired about how he had obtained her. If my memory serves me correctly, it was from a box of puppies being given away up in the Wal-Mart parking lot. As the kids visited, the beer meister asked if they’d like to take the dog off his hands, evidently he labored and wasn’t around much to care for the little thing. Bingo! Mission accomplished. He sent them on their way with a bag of Wal-Mart’s less-than-finest chow and the little pup.
Spring Break brought those two kiddos to the house, and with them came their gregarious, rambunctious little girl. Somehow those two college kids failed to see the warning signs written all over me. Let’s just blame it on the fact that they weren’t aware of MY history. I’d grown up in a home where many puppies came and went, all of them beautiful, all of them so ready to be loved by the greedy hands and hearts of the six children that resided with them. There was just one problem. Our father was a professional dog breeder and trainer in his spare time, every evening after work and mornings before going off to his job, he trained them, ran them and fed them. His idea of our playtime with them existed as this: cleaning their pens and being sure they had clean water. We were not allowed to pet or play with them and we were taught to never make direct eye contact with them. My father had a mission.
Living with AKC puppies for us kids was a somber chore. Can you imagine German Shorthairs, Black Labradors and Weimaraner dogs of outstanding breedership being off-limits to the loving hearts and minds of those who lived among them? No, probably not. So imagine two college kids arriving at my doorstep with a little yellow Lab. Think of the sheer delight of seeing her romp thru a house, fancy-prancing her way right into my heart as two ignorant school kids are showing off their prize, their joy and telling the story of her rescue. Was I slobbering, could they read the greed within my eyes?
Okay, I exaggerate, I’m sure. Surely I did, I mean, after all the youngsters were dear to me. One a daughter, the other would one day become my son (in-law). I’m sure I behaved.
Spring turned to summer, and one thing led to another. My daughter left for an internship in California, and her boyfriend headed to Egypt for three weeks. They needed a pet sitter. I don’t even think I raised my hand for duty. The inflection in my voice surely cured any anxiety they had about leaving their sweet pup with me.
Time passes, boyfriend arrives back to the States and daughter is two thousand+miles away in California. I have a little ‘sit-down’ with dad of puppy. I conger up all sorts of excuses as to why I might keep the dog a bit longer, especially since he’ll only be returning to Oklahoma to finish up a six-week course before heading out to California to visit his family and my daughter. My skills at motherhood WERE in excellent shape that particular day. Stellar, in fact! That boy got in his truck and drove away believing things were all lined up to be ‘fine.’ And truly, they were. I set my sights on exploration. Hannah and I drove if we couldn’t walk. We bought a boatload of toys, dog shampoo, a kiddy pool. The two of us were in cahoots and no one was on to us. Yet.
Dang! Six weeks traveled faster than an Oklahoma twister. Dad came back and had a plan for him and Hannah to journey off to California and join up with the troops. It was time to spill the beans. I don’t even remember how Hannah and I had a talk with him. Maybe we didn’t? Maybe he just looked around the house and realized Hannah had purchased the real estate? Perhaps he read between the lines as I told stories of our adventures. Explained the trip to the vet for a health check, vaccinations and the fact I had her spayed? (Don’t go all Zombie on me. The discussion had arisen that they planned on doing that as soon as their budget allowed.)
It’s nine years later. The kids are married and living in Northern California. They have a Goldendoodle, named Zulu. All three of them are living the good life, hiking the mountains and venturing out back and down the trail to the lake. Hannah? She’s a regular at the park. Neighbors ask about her before they ask about anyone else living in the house. Starbucks recognizes her moms voice and hands over a PuppyWhip when tea and coffee purchases are made. CVS Drug store pharmacy drive thru offers her a cookie at prescription pickup time. Three-Dog Bakery greets her with treats out of the pastry case. Everyone in there knows her by name, and heaven forbid if her owner arrives without her in tow. You’d think a crime had been committed! So where do I go from here? How can I convey what the past nine years have meant to Hannah, to me, to all of our family? What could I do to express the magnitude of joy she has brought, the love we have shared? Which part of the rescue belongs to whom? I believe that Hannah is a gift beyond measure, priceless and precious to more than simply me. She has touched lives and broadened horizons. And, it began all by the grace of God with intuition by two who felt a life needed help.
Happy Birthday, Hannah! You cannot measure our love and we cannot measure yours, but we know one thing: you have gifted all of us. We are blessed beyond measure.