Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sweet Hannah

(I wrote the beginning of this post several weeks ago when it first happened, but for some reason, I just couldn't make myself publish it. Sometimes I'm not sure how much of the bad or sad stuff I should put out here for public consumption. I'd hate to have anyone think we take the death of any of our animals lightly. Believe me---we don't. I suppose because my husband is a veterinarian and because I have had livestock for most of my adult life, we might have a different perspective than some people. I have learned that if I am going to experience the joy of having these animals be part of my daily life, then I also must come to grips with the fact that I am likely to outlive them. And that life does go on.)

I can't believe I'm having to write another one of these posts. A few days ago I found that our oldest Great Pyrenees, Hannah, had died during the night, apparently in her sleep. She had not been acting sick, had been her usual sweet self and it was totally unexpected. We are so sad. She was one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. Given the choice, she would have hung out with us all the time, but seemed to know she had to make an effort to guard the sheep. She was especially wonderful with the newborn lambs and I'll miss her even more when lambing starts this year.

Living on a farm and keeping livestock makes one extremely aware of the cycle of life and death. We all know it is a fact, but most of us don't experience death in a personal way very often. Because animals usually have a much shorter life span than humans, the whole process is sped up and, as their caretakers, we witness birth and death often. As so often happens here on the farm, within a few days of each other, we had the joyous birth of a much anticipated baby llama and the very sad and unexpected death of a cherished member of our farm family. It does seem to help the grieving process to have a new life to concentrate on or be distracted with, however you choose to look at it.

So now we've come to the place where we can think about finding another guardian for our animals. Holly has been especially diligent lately, spending nearly all her time staying very close to the sheep. Most mornings I find her stretched out sleeping among the pregnant ewes. She seems to know it is all her responsibility right now. When the time comes, she will serve as a mentor for the new dog, the same way Hannah did for her when she first came to live with us. I have been putting out the word that we are looking for another dog and we have a lead on one that we will go to meet this weekend. I feel strongly that the right dog will make herself (or himself) known to us when the time is right.


  1. Dianne, I am terribly, terribly sorry for your loss. I don't care how often it happens, or even that it is expected, it is still a hard burden to bear and the loss can be felt very deeply. Especially when it is a good dog and faithful companion that has been taken.
    My warmest thoughts are with you.

  2. Diane,
    I'm really sorry to hear about your loss.

  3. She is such a sweetie. It is so hard to let go of beloved dogs..

  4. She could have given you no greater gift than to die peacefully in her sleep, but the unexpected loss is such a shock to the system. We're here with you, both in circumstances and profession. It never gets easier; I'm so sorry....

  5. I enjoyed the prompt to go back and watch the earlier video of the dogs and cat. Big white angels.

  6. so sorry to read this is always too soon for our 4 legged friends to leave us. I'm glad you are looking for another guardian and the older dog teaching the young dog is a good thing.

  7. I am so sorry ....
    Thinking of you .....

  8. Our condolences on the loss of your Hannah, but it's comforting that you're also able to focus on the new life on your farm. We so hope you find another special Big White Dog to add to your farm. It's so tough on one to lose a special dog. We lost 2 of our LGD's in tragic accidents within a couple of weeks and we were devastated, but we've added another big guy and it helps. Ken and Mary Berry of Fancyfibers Farm