very important to me, and I had never had a one year anniversary before. But I do remember that dog.
I didn't know he was getting a dog. For years after, I joked that this dog was mine, that he had bought her for me as an anniversary present. We gave her my middle name, and my maiden name. When she was in trouble - which was a lot of the time- we used all three of her names.
My boyfriend named her after a beer. Typical.
He had just returned from a semester abroad in Norway. So he chose a Norwegian beer.
|Just a pup.|
She was most definitely his dog. When she wasn't outside with his roommates two hunting dogs, she was jumping on counters to steal a chicken, rummaging through bathroom trash cans or sleeping on a pile of his dirty clothes in a corner of her closet.
She continued doing all of these things for 13 years.
She went hunting with him, running and leaping and swimming with ease. She never tired. We took her to countless dog parks and lakes, both of us tiring before she did.
|A swimmer at heart.|
I used to dress her up, in Harley Davidson hats and bandannas. I will never live down the time I took her to the groomer mere days before she went hunting with the boys and their dogs. I set her up with a green camo bandanna and bright orange nail polish - in my mind, the perfect hunting combo. The guys still call her their "cheerleader".
I married that boyfriend, and the three of us - husband, wife and dog - moved into a townhome with no yard.
I was the one with more time off work, so I was with Hansa more. I took her for runs around the neighborhood to stave off energy. I rarely put her in her kennel, although she was kennel trained, and opted instead to move all the trash cans into the pantry, and clear the counters and accessible areas (anything under 4 feet) of food.
It didn't always work. Like the time she ate two weeks worth of homemade blueberry muffins, saran wrap and all. Or the time she went through the garbage and I found garlic cloves and onion peels scattered and half chewed, two things to which dogs are deathly allergic. Or that one time she ate half a gallon of plumbers putty. The girl had a stomach of steel and could withstand any food - or non-food, for that matter. I called the vet a few times that year before she finally told me that my dog could pretty much stand to eat anything, and I didn't need to bring her in.
There were other things she ate: my leather shoes and leather jacket. Two packages of $20 gourmet jerky. Countless chicken legs and cupcakes and loaves of bread that were kept on the counter just a little too close to the edge.
Before we had kids, we paid a doggie day care to take care of her. They had a kitchen in the daycare, and they were baking cookies one night with the dogs all around. With the sitters back turned, Hansa jumped onto the counter and in one swift move ate a stick of butter, wrapper and all. A frantic call was made to us, where we eased the sitter's conscience. She loves butter, we said. Next time, watch your back.
By our second Christmas together, we had moved halfway across the country from family and friends, so we took our first family Christmas card picture together. Just me, my husband, Hansa....and a cactus.
|Our first Christmas card.|
We took her for hikes in the desert. One time we let her stray a little too far from the path, and she fell into a patch of jumping cactus. Five years later, our daughter did the same thing. Because of Hansa, and the experience I had picking prickle after prickle of cactus from her paws and fur, I knew how to take them out of my daughter's leg.
She had cancer, and had two different surgeries. She was seven. She was so tough, and it was so heartbreaking to know that she didn't have any clue what was happening to her. She was used to sleeping on our bed every night, all 50 lbs of her directly on top of my legs, and although her entire side was done up in stitches, she somehow jumped (when our backs were turned) and made it onto the bed, whimpering once she got there. Fearing moving and hurting her more, my husband slept on the floor beside the bed that night.
After we had kids, my husband bought a 60 pack of granola bars at Costco. Taking one out, he left the rest of the pack on the table, ensuring that it was in the middle of the table, for she would never be able to get to that package from that far away, right? Two months later we were still finding granola bars hidden in holes throughout the yard. At last count, over 30 of them were missing.
She was a smart dog. At five o clock on the dot she would start to pace. She would run from the doggie door to wherever we were, and back again. She would shake and paw at us. She knew it was dinner time, even if we hadn't noticed the time.
I rarely had to sweep under the table, even after my toddler and baby children would eat rice or peas. She did not have a discriminating palate, and would inhale any bit of food dropped on the floor. She didn't always wait for it to hit the floor, either. Often, when Peanut was young, Hansa would take her favorite snack -string cheese- right out of her hand, swallowing it in one gulp.
Hansa was Bjorn's first word. "Anga", he said. "Anga." And soon, "Hansa." There was no introducing Bjorn to Hansa, no having to condition her to be nice to the baby. They were buddies from the start. She let him pretend to ride her around the house, and when Peanut came around, she sat patiently while she had her try on necklaces and hats.
|His first word, and his first friend.|
She would smile when we came home. Her lips would pull back, almost in a sneer, but happier. Then she would dance around your feet, whining and puffing, sneezing and snorting. It was her "I'm so happy you're home!!" smile and routine.
I'm a crier. She would find me when I was crying, and snuggle up to me. I can't count how many tears I have wiped on her fur.
She let me wipe them on her fur today, for the last time. She licked me, and put her paws and head on my lap, letting me know that she loved me, but she couldn't go on any longer. The cancer was too much, and her body was giving out on her.
Good-bye Hansa. I miss you already.
|She liked to ride in the middle of the car, with the rest of us.|
|Our first Arizona winter trip.|