Friday, August 10, 2012

Hank

Let me introduce you to Hank.  Hank is my 100+ pound sheppard/lab mix.  And quite possibly the best dog God ever put on this Earth.  I know I'm biased, but he is a pretty amazing dog!  Think of the dog Nanny in Disney's Peter Pan and you've just about got Hank.  The baby in this picture isn't even ours, but Hank loves him just the same!

Hank came into our lives 12 years ago, he was just a puppy Erik and I  adopted from a shelter long before we had kids.  He was this little golden colored puppy in the middle of a litter of chocolate ones.  He was bigger than all the rest and a clear case of "which one of these is not like the other?" I was looking for a dog I could call Hank and he was looking for... well...me.  It was love at first sight!

We adopted him at the beginning of summer and since I was working for a school district at the time I got the first 3 months at home with him, kind of like maternity leave!  Maybe that's why he has always been more than just a dog to us.  When we adopted him we were told he would be about 70 pounds.  When we took him to the vet they thought closer to 80.  At his next checkup they increased that to 90 pounds and by the time he was 6 months old they told us he would most likely be over 100 pounds.  We stopped taking him in for checkups!  Just kidding.

It was clear Hank was going to be huge so we knew we would need him well trained.  Frankly, at 100 pounds there wasn't much I was going to be able to do physically to control him.  I had to be the one in charge.  So we found someone to help us.  He was a retired dog trainer who used to train the KC, MO police dogs.  He loved Hank and Hank loved him, and he taught us SO MUCH.  It helps that Hank is the best dog God ever put on this Earth! (I know, again with the bias).

The thing is, Hank REALLY is that good.  From the get go he has been AMAZING especially with kids.  We didn't have kids when we adopted Hank so we would make sure he was socialized with children every chance we got.  We would take him to the local parks, Hank PULLING on the leash the whole way there, me barely able to keep up.  Then we would get there and he would just let the children climb all over him, children we didn't know!  They would take the leash and he would just stand there, then walk slowly right beside them anywhere they led!  On the way home he was pulling at the leash just as fiercely as he was on the way there.  He just understood he needed to be gentle with the little puppy people (I'm pretty sure that is what Hank called them!).

We worried a little bit when we found out we were expecting our first child.  How would Hank adjust?  We need not have worried.  Hank took to the new baby the way a mother bear takes to her cub.  He was fiercely protective of her the moment we brought her home.  He was always intimidating when a stranger came to the door.  But now, beware!

One night when Isabella was a couple months old some friends of ours said the would babysit so we could go out for dinner.  What a treat!  So I fed her and put her down for a nap in her carseat (no judgement please, it was her favorite place to sleep!).  All our friends had to do was watch her nap.  Clearly Hank doubted our parenting skills, because he did not think these people were worthy of caring for HIS baby.  After we left, Hank walked over to the carseat and laid down right in front of the baby, between her and our friends (whom Hank knew well), as if saying, "you'll have to get through me first!"  Luckily we weren't gone long and were back before she woke up.  But our friends joke to this day, that Hank did more babysitting than they did!

That is just one of the million stories I have about Hank.  I'm sure you will be hearing a lot more of them in the days to come.  Hank is in surgery right now.  He is having a tumor removed.  A tumor we know is melanoma but don't know anything else yet.  My heart is breaking.  I know dogs don't live forever.  But somehow, I kinda thought he would.  I still kinda hope he will.  Because he's Hank, the best dog God ever put on this Earth.