Sunshade has given me the BEST 12 years of my life, and she was there with me every step of the way. I don't think I need to say how much I love her over and over again because, words just aren't enough to describe what we have.
So far, we've been very busy celebrating with the birthday girrrrrl! We will be posting how she spent her birthday, the celebration, and presents over the last few days. For now, I'm going to share with you something I wrote for the Airedales! We Luv Hairdale Terrors Group on Facebook last year.
Sunshade is my first dog, my first Airedale. She is my introduction to this amazing, clownish, one of a kind breed, and the reason I'm hooked on Airedales for life.
I moved out on my own when I was 16 due to an ugly divorce happening at home. My father got me an 8 week old Airedale puppy to keep me company. That puppy was later named Sunshade. I was in Grade 11 then, and her sole caretaker. She waited patiently for me everyday while I was at school. I didn't know about dog walkers or daycares like I do now. She was so easy, house trained at 4 months, never chewed anything, never a nuisance to the neighbours. She was perfect. She was so perfect that I never thought anything different needed to be done. It wasn't until years later did I realize how un-usual her perfection was, especially for the breed, and at such a young age. It was almost like Sunshade was only meant to be with me so things were made possible for us to be together. Everyday after I got home from school, it was just our evening together. We went to parks, walked the streets, and visited my friends. Sunshade didn't have a family like most well loved dogs had. She never had anyone else to look forward to other than me. Surprisingly, she seemed content with that.
She saw me through high school, University and finally into the work force. Shortly after welcoming Sunshade into my life, she began to show me in every way that she was so much more than "just a dog". Thus, elevating her status to that of a human child to me.
She was very intuitive and very in tuned with my emotions. During my first year in Vancouver (I was 17), a drunk, homeless person decided to follow us on one of our nightly strolls. I was feeling uneasy, so I crossed the street to go to the opposite side walk. Sunshade followed me back and forth for some time. Eventually, she, then an 18 months old pup, decided that ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. She turned around, walked toward him (ignoring my "NO" and "come" commands), and parked herself in front of the homeless man who was waving a bottle at her. She didn't do anything other than blocking his access to me. The man didn't take her seriously. He kicked her hard and she fell. However, she wasn't to be intimidated. She got right back up, and still, she stood in between the man and I (and still ignoring all of my commands). The man yelled, she didn't flinch. Finally, he decided to to go around her. Well, that was NOT allowed. He was NOT going to take even one step closer to me. She snarled and bared her her teeth. He was allowed to move in all directions but towards me. When he tried again to go around her the other way, she "held" him there with those deafening Airedale growls and barks (almost like those Schutzhund dogs). At one point she even looked like she was going to bite (but never did). I was a little shocked as I had NEVER seen my puppy in such state before. People in the apartment building next to the side walk must have heard the commotion and called the police. Two policemen showed up. One asked me if he could approach as he thought Sunshade had been trained for personal protection. I was so relieved to see the police that I yelled YES,YES! SHE'S VERY FRIENDLY! As soon as Sunshade saw the first policeman approaching, she walked away from me and the homeless man. She headed straight to the police car where the second policeman was just getting out. Before he could shut the door, Sunshade climbed into the police car and proceeded to checking everything out. She has always had a thing for other people's cars. On her puppy test performed by the breeder, she was tested as a "curious" pup. It is still the case today. I guess she somehow knew the policemen were "good" so she happily left me with them and went to satisfy her curiosity with the police vehicle. One of the policeman said to me - "that's a great Airedale you've got there. They were war dogs you know?"
Sunshade is confident, yet calm. Those personality traits make it possible for her to accompany me everywhere I go. She doesn't get stressed and is never a nuisance. Yes... she attended many of my lecture classes during my years at the University of British Columbia.
In all the years I've been blessed with Sunshade, she has never failed to amaze me at the amount of "work" she's able to accomplish with her determination and high intelligence. With "work", I mean opening cupboards & drawers, un-locking car doors and etc. If you are on the Airedale Armageddon group, you might be familiar with those "can opening" pictures. The story of Sunshade's ability to unlock car doors was featured in the 2006 Oct-Dec edition of The American Airedale.
At 11 years old, Sunshade has continued to make me laugh on a daily basis with the stunts she pulls, and her unique quirks. She is funny, goofy, and full of character with people who she considers part of her pack, while aloof and standoff-ish (but never shy) with strangers. She is intuitive and protective of what's rightfully hers, and would give her life protecting ones she loves.
Over the last 11 years, Sunshade has been my best friend, my teacher, my loyal protector, and my sanity check-er. The unsurpassed trust and unmatched understanding we have of each other provide the confidence we need to achieve anything together, even in the face of the unknown. She has it in her to always try her best and do (and perfect) whatever it is that I ask of her. I on the other hand, strive to provide the best quality of life, and make her the happiest Aire-girrrrl in my world.
Sunshade is the light of my life, my heart and soul. She is my one in a million; the reason I'm the person I am today.