August of 2000 seemed to be a particularly bad month for thunderstorms. Nearly every afternoon, a monster would roll in bringing flashing bolts of lightning and house-shuddering thunder. One afternoon, after a particularly vicious storm, I went out to check for damage and to round up anything that had blown around the yard. The dogs alerted me to something cowering behind one of the bushes next to the house.
I approached cautiously as I wasn’t sure what I would find. It could have been anything from a snake to an injured deer. What I found was a hound: soaking wet, trembling and terrified. After sitting with it for awhile, I was able to coax it from behind the bushes and out to where I could get a better look. The dog was female and from what I could tell from her teeth, seemed to be middle aged. She was wearing a collar, but no ID tags. She also had a rear leg that had obviously been broken at one time, and never set properly. Once she calmed down, I dried her off and brought her into the house for a closer look. In going over her more thoroughly, I also found that she had been recently spayed . . . the stitches were still in place.
We went in to see the vet. While in good overall condition, they had never seen her before. He estimated that she had been spayed sometime in the last two weeks, so he checked with the other branches of the practice, and could find no record of her being seen by any of the other vets. He estimated her age at somewhere in the nine to ten year range, and she had obviously had several litters of pups prior to her spay. My thought was, why would someone pay to have her spayed and then dump her? The only theory we could come up with was that in her overwhelming fear of thunderstorms, she had panicked and run away from her home.
I placed ads on the radio, checked the “lost dog” ads and the local shelter, and the internet. I called every veterinary hospital in a seventy-five mile radius . . . no one knew her; and with her unique gait, there would be no mistaking her.
So, she ended up at Buffy’s Home for Wayward Dogs. We decided to call her “Hannah” and after a few days, she settled into the pack dynamic with the other five.
By the following spring, we started noticing some of her unique idiosyncrasies: Every morning, she would go for her “constitutional,” a walk encompassing several miles along the outer boundaries of our (and the adjoining) property. The family that lives up at the far end had children who would leave toys in the yard. Hannah started to bring home little stuffed animals. She carried them as gently as pups and would leave them out next to my car for me to find. Every couple of days, I’d take what she had collected back to their family.
One afternoon, I came home to find a wrapped potted Calla Lily sitting next to my car. My first thought was that my husband had bought it for the garden. When I looked a little more closely, I could see the marks where Hannah’s teeth had gently grasped the plant imprinted in the brown wrapping paper. I stood there flummoxed for a few minutes…where in the world had she found this?
I then remembered seeing another neighbor working in her yard earlier in the day. I walked down, with the plant, to ask if it was hers. It was. She said she had seen Hannah on her morning walk, but had not missed the plant. She was so tickled with what Hannah had done that she told me to keep the plant. I named it “Hannah’s Lily” and planted it just off our back porch. It came up and bloomed every year.
Hannah had a long, happy life with us. She never got over her fear of thunderstorms and could sense them coming hours in advance. She continued to bring her little gifts and treasures and leave them next to my car. She accepted with grace and patience the new additions that joined our pack. In August of 2008, she passed away at the age of seventeen.
The following spring, Hannah’s Lily never came up.