April 17th 2008 4:48 pm
[ Leave A Comment ]
This is my Adopt 08 entry for our Airedale Angel, Ariel, but it is really more about sharing her story.
Part of what made Ariel such a special dog was her effect on people, and that is why I'll be writing this from my point of view. My name is Emily and I am 17 years old. Ariel joined our family when I was 5 years old and passed away when I was 12. Ariel was already an angel when I joined dogster, and because of that I have never kept a diary for her. This entry will be about why adoption is special to me, it will tells Ariel's story and share memories that would have been kept in a diary, and will be cherished forever.
In December of 1995 we brought home an airedale puppy named Holly, becoming a three dog family. Within the following two months we lost our 15 year old airedale named Jesse. The family was heartbroken and the last thing on anyone's mind was a new dog. A couple of weeks later we received a call from a woman involved in rescue, who said a female airedale had just been brought to the SPCA. We arranged a meeting and adopted the dog, not knowing the impact she would have on our lives.
Somewhere on the outskirts of our city, a man was enjoying a weekend with his kids that usually lived with their mom. He took off with his kids across the country and left his 3 year old dog Ariel in the yard at home. Ariel was left alone, fenced in with nothing to eat and nobody around in the middle of winter. She eventually escaped from the yard and neighbors reported that she was surviving off of dead, frozen chickens. She was on her own wandering in the area around her house for a week and a half before somebody notified the SPCA. When the SPCA located Ariel, she had a mouthful of porcupine quills, and a deep cut in her leg that appeared to be caused by barbed wire. They caught this limping, dirty, hungry dog and brought her to the SPCA. They immediately started calling people in the Airedale community and eventually found us.
Ariel suffered from severe separation anxiety. Every time we left the house, she feared that we would leave her forever just as her first family had. This feeling caused Ariel to attempt to escape from our yard on many occasions. And escape she did! The first time, Ariel managed to open the gate just enough to squeeze her 85 lbs body through. Soon after, we piled up a wheel barrow and an assortment of backyard tools to barricade the gate. She climbed over our barricade. We kept her inside when we left, but it was soon clear that she would destroy our house. Up went the metal sheet and solid lock on the outside gate. It stopped Ariel for a while, but before long we came home to Ariel sitting in the front lawn again. The only possibility was that Ariel had jumped our six foot fence. Thankfully she stopped her attempts at jumping soon after. Through the years Ariel also dug under, and chewed through our fence. This dog was a one of kind Houdini. As time went on Ariel settled down, and we believe, came to realize we would never ever leave her.
Ariel had another issue. Absolutely zero off-leach recall. This dog loved to run. She would usually return after a good romp in the ravine, and if not she would meet us at home. We kept her on her leash most of the time, but every once in a while, my dad would bend down to her leash and say "Ten points to whoever sees her first." The rest of us would moan, groan and complain about the risk, but I think all of us were secretly happy. She loved to run and you just couldn't hold a dog like that back.
Everybody has owned a dog that loved the whole family, but obviously held a special place for one particular person. Ariel made every person in my family feel like she was "their" dog. She had her ways to make everybody feel special. Everybody remembers Ariel as the sweetest dog on earth. She made me feel special by choosing to sleep in my room. It made an enormous difference growing up through the "nightmare years", knowing I had an 85 lbs cuddle buddy, best friend and protector just a couple feet away on the floor. I'll always remember the night I woke up and felt a fuzzy paw on my back. I opened my eyes to see Ariel sitting up on my bed, which was very rare, gently pawing me. She let out a soft whine when I sat up, and I knew she was looking for the same comfort that she gave me whenever I had a nightmare. I gave her a hug and together we went to my parents bed, where nightmares couldn't get us.
Holly and Ariel were the best of friends. Never before and never since have I seen two dogs as close as they were. They would play all day. Always the same, Ariel chasing Holly around the yard or house. Holly always staying just out of reach, Ariel barking her deep bark. After they would relax together in the shade under our two apple trees. In the evenings they would lie together, paws entwined, nose to nose, eyes closed. I chose a picture of them lying together this way as my photo entry.
One of Ariel's most special connections was with my Grandma. My Grandma moved in with us a couple years after we adopted Ariel. Ariel immediately took a shine to Grandma, and it wasn't uncommon to see Ariel sit at Grandma's side with her head on her knee for hours at a time. To this day, Grandma talks of Ariel as her very favorite dog. You can see the love in her eyes.
When Ariel was nine years old, we discovered that cancer had entered her body. The most advanced cancer was in her lungs. Some months went by and by February, her condition was much worse. The vets brought up the possibility of putting her down, but in the end we decided she still had more time. Ariel would live another 7 months.
By the time summer rolled around, Ariel was in rough shape. She had tumors on her chest, a deep cough, and her paws and ankles were very swollen. She would often pace and stumble around, and we would beg her to lay down and relax. One day we were out in the yard and Holly pranced past Ariel and I, asking to be chased. Ariel, for the first time in a long time, attempted to bound after her. She took a couple steps, but collapsed on the grass. I rushed to her side and lay with her, bawling. Never before had I felt like this. I was devastated and would have sacrificed anything to give her one more day of playing with her best friend.
Near the end of summer, my family made the decision to put Ariel to sleep, help her on her way. That morning, my brother, sister and I were at home with Ariel. She was pacing and panting more than usual. Her legs could barely hold up her weight. We cried and pleaded with her to lay on her pillow. She wouldn't listen and finally attempted to go up the one stair to our kitchen. She lost her footing and crashed to the ground. We ran to her side and found her unconscious. She stopped moving and breathing. We screamed, and all lay beside her, petting her gently. Minutes later, Ariel opened her eyes and started breathing very quickly. She didn't even try to get up. My sister called my parents, and told them what happened. We all lay waiting for my parents beside Ariel, out of our minds with grief. I couldn't decide if I wanted Ariel to hang on, or to let go and be out of pain. My parents showed up and my dad wrapped Ariel in a blanket and carried her to the car. We said our good byes and Holly, my siblings and I watched the car pull away. Holly was pulling at her leash to follow them. That image of the car driving slowly away will be implanted in my mind forever.
What does adoption mean to me? It means a happy airedale laying under her favorite apple tree, it means a fuzzy face on my grandma's lap, it means an 85 lbs lap dog climbing into my lap to get away from a thunderstorm, a paw on my back in the night, it means a best friend finding her forever family. We put Ariel's pink and purple collar around the trunk of her favorite apple tree, and now 4 years later Holly's blue collar is around the other tree. All I have to do is look at those trees, and I am reminded of the love and devotion one receives when you rescue a dog.