Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hanna - Week 1

Word got around to me recently about a Great Pyrenees that was in a neighboring county animal shelter and after several days of phone calls and a couple visits later, I take Hanna home. At that time she was nameless. She and her sister were surrendered by their owner for reasons unknown. Her health history, her age, all parts of her past, her likes and even her fears are all unknown. I read recently it takes courage to take in a shelter animal because of all the unknowns. Undoubtedly this is true but where there is hope there is courage and I saw so much hope for Hanna. So with courage, hope and leash in hand I take Hanna out of her concrete holding pen and with complete faith she and I head out on this journey together.
leaving the animal shelter
It's no new news to anyone that the animal shelters in every part of every county, city and state are filled to the brim with unwanted pets. My goal for Hanna is to go beyond finding her a loyal loving family. It is to help her discover and nurture her guardian instincts that will then give her a valuable working purpose. If Hanna has a purpose, the likelyhood of her ever being unwanted again will be slim to none. So this new chapter in her life is a necessary one. No one wanted Hanna but that is all about to change.

Hanna walks well on a leash - so our first step of learning was already complete. The afternoon after I bring Hanna home, I have her checked out with my trusted Veterinarian Clinic. She tested positive for lyme's disease but thankfully no heartworms or other icky, awful posibilities. She receives her vaccinations, is given a month's supply of meds to treat her lyme's and an appointment for her spay surgery is scheduled. Hanna is patient and friendly. She is easy to love and is swooned over by all that meet her. It was then that I decided to call her Hanna - in Hebrew it means gracious, full of grace, mercy and favor. And I see all of these in her.
Hanna getting to know the guardians that are at home here on the farm
Later on that evening, I thought it would be best for Hanna that she sleep in the covered cattle trailer for the night. The cattle trailer is centrally located on the farm and surrounded by lots of activity. But yet it still gives her a little of her own private space. She is anxious with all the new sights and smells of farm life. And it is obvious to me she was unaccustomed to farm animals and had lived the majority of her life sheltered indoors. She was my shadow throughout the day and panicked when she was not by my side. I know this will be a very difficult night and week for her. So much adjustment and my soft heart aches to walk away from the cattle trailer that first night as she cries for me to come back. But this next step is essential for Hanna. The first week Hanna and I will be bonding and she will need to learn to trust me. She is extremely fearful of strange sounds and new faces. To be a guardian she will have to face her fears and learn to trust that no matter where I leave her, it is for a reason and that most importantly I will come back. And she can not face those fears entirely while being attached to my hip. So the cattle trailer becomes her overnight accommodations and after a couple of days she jumps in and snuggles up willingly on her quilt and learns, it's actually pretty comfy in there.
Willa Bee adores Hanna and waits outside of the cattle trailer for playtime with her new friend

Hanna & Willa

a reassuring chin scratch makes everything all better :)
Even though she's underweight, she is not easily tempted with food. She refuses fresh goats milk, dry dog food and most of our treats but we have found, she can woof down a cheap can of canned dog food in seconds flat. So we go with what she's familiar with for now and on the future agenda is to keep introducing more nutritious foods to her since we know a working dog needs to eat well in order to be able to work.
in the washroom cleaning buckets

it's time to milk

perimeter walking
 Throughout each day Hanna is introduced and reintroduced to the livestock. She is terrified of what she does not know. So we walk the perimeters and mingle. Each time we mingle, the mingling time increases and she begins to relax as things become familiar. The livestock is curious about her and without her leash in hand, she would have bolted. From a distance she can manage their curiosity but up close is still too much. Their bravery to smell her makes her tremble. But I assure her, they just want to know her. When they know her, they will accept her into their paddock and eventually family. She is learning to trust me and the reassurance in my voice comforts her. At this point, Hanna has not been inside any fenced in areas. She's only been able to mingle with the livestock while they're outside of their paddocks coming in for milking or during rotations. Hanna will have to be accepted by the livestock before being able to go inside of their paddocks without fear - the livestock or Hanna reacting in fear could end tragically. So we will only go inside the paddock when both livestock and Hanna are ready. Until then she walks with me while I milk, feed and do the daily chores. The tossing of feed bags or a bucket falling over makes her want to bolt for cover. But she is very attentive to my voice and calm composure. She looks at me very trustingly, comes in under my hand for a reassuring head rub and then she is ready for another terrifying sound or animal smell...conquering one fear at a time.

 Saving just one dog won't change the world, but surely it will change the world for that one dog