By Martha Anne Tudor
John Jackson can’t talk about his rescue dog Hannah without getting emotional. Little wonder, considering how life has opened up since she came into the picture.
John, 23, struggles with challenging health issues, including Asperger’s and a brain tumor. The Belvedere resident says he’s used to people getting frustrated and impatient with him. Interactions with others often cause him anxiety. Nightmares happened every night, and he’d given up hope years ago anything could stop them.
From their first night together, John hasn’t had a single nightmare. No one knew that was even possible. He also now has someone to tell his dreams to. Hannah always listens, John says, and never gets irritated with him “like people do.” John says Hannah makes him feel calm, safe, and less anxious.
His grandmother, Beverly Boniewicz of Edgefield, calls it a miracle.
But last December, Hannah didn’t look much like a miracle worker. Scarred and beat up from dog attacks and other hardships of life on the streets, she was just another sweet-faced mixed breed at the Aiken County Animal Shelter, hoping life wasn’t at an end.
Hannah had been at the shelter longer than any other dog. For days, she patiently waited in her kennel as time and again potential adopters passed her by. She didn’t attract attention, with heartworms and her hair missing in places. But she kept giving visitors kisses and mustering all the hope she could.
As Hannah’s time wound down, one more push was made on social media to find her a home. She had become a favorite among shelter volunteers, who wouldn’t give up on her. “She’s my favorite dog,” said FOTAS Board Member and Volunteer, Ellie Joos.
Just a few hours after Hannah’s final plea was posted, Beverly scrolled through Facebook, as she often does. She saw Hannah’s story and called John, who often got lonely living by himself. He headed for the car to go meet Hannah.
Witnesses to their meeting describe it as watching two halves come together.
“Will she mind if I talk to her a lot?” John asked shelter workers. Hannah seemed to realize her biggest wish had come true.
She jumped in John’s car, where she still loves to ride. John likes their drives too, and says he loves showing her off. Hannah sleeps every night in John’s bed, though he made a bedroom just for her if she wants it. When she’s not right beside John, she enjoys sitting in the sunshine in their backyard.
The dog nobody wanted, the dog who’d never had a chance, is now the center of attention. She has her own Himalayan salt candle, her own “CD for Dogs,” a bunch of dog toys, and her own blanket. But her favorite thing is John. She even jumps over the back of the couch to give him kisses.
“It is really a miracle – for all of us,” said Beverly, who sometimes babysits Hannah and considers her part of the family. “She is the perfect fit for John.”