Graf Persinger 1996 - 2008

It is with great sorrow that I let you know of the recent loss of a very special Airedale.  I adopted Graf from your organization on April 22 in 1997. Graf was approximately one year old at that time and it was just last Saturday that renal disease ended his beautiful precious life.  There are simply no words to express how much Graf meant to me and how thankful I am to your organization for allowing me the privilege of knowing him and loving him all these years. 

Graf was all Airedale – he was quite large weighing in at close to 90 pounds – and he was all heart.  Your organization contacted me about him after I had submitted an application for adoption.  Graf had been left at the Greater Missouri Humane Society by his previous owners who expressed having no need for a dog who killed chickens!  Graf’s chances of adoption at the shelter looked rather bleak as he had apparently been an outside dog and was not housebroken or trained in any way.  Airedale Rescue contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to give this boy a chance.  Many of my friends said I was crazy but something told me to say yes.  I was, however, unable to drive down to Missouri to pick him up and you had to get him out of the shelter within one week for fear of him being euthanized.  So you made arrangements to have him flown into O’Hare (I believe someone’s husband had a connection with American Airlines) and I picked him up at American Cargo.  When I arrived at O’Hare I was greeted by what appeared to be a giant black/brown Old English Sheepdog.  In reality, he was all Airedale – he had just never been groomed!  But behind all that hair were the warmest sweetest amber eyes that I’ve ever seen.  When I saw those eyes I knew that Graf and I were going to be just fine together – and I was right.  Graf was a gentle giant from day one.  I’ve known many Airedales in my life and he was indeed unique.  He was calm and quiet and seemed to understand that he had been given a second chance and he appreciated it very much.  He had no trouble at all adjusting to his new townhouse life in the Chicago suburbs.  He was housebroken in a day and very quickly got used to sleeping on the couch (perfectly acceptable in our home) and lying in front of the AC vent in the summer.  (I don’t think he missed his outdoor life that much!)  Graf befriended every canine he ever met but never tired of chasing every cat he ever saw. 

Graf was a source of constant joy to me. We walked together every day rain or shine, we frequented the local forest preserves as much as possible, we ran agility for a few years, we took a two week road trip to Florida, hiked a bit in the Smoky Mountains, and chased waves along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.  I did my best to give Graf a good life because he certainly deserved it.  He gave me so much more than I could have ever given him.  He was a big, beautiful, spirited Airedale boy.  He was 100% healthy his entire life with the exception of a bout with Kennel Cough when he first arrived and most recently the grim diagnosis of renal disease.  By the time the diagnosis was made it became apparent that the disease was already well advanced.  A random blood test showed serious kidney issues several weeks before we even saw any symptoms.  However, it was not long before the symptoms showed up and once they did Graf’s health deteriorated breathtakingly fast.  I was not ready to say goodbye so soon but we never are, are we?  I miss my Graf so much and saying goodbye to him was heartbreaking but I know that he is now young again and running like the wind through fields and woods just as he did not so long ago.  I also know that I will see him again some day.  I look forward to looking into those warm sweet amber eyes once more. 

Thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who work so hard to give these Airedales a second chance.  Your efforts not only benefit the dogs but those who are fortunate enough to have the privilege to receive these dogs into their homes.  Knowing Graf was one of the great blessings of my life and I look forward to adopting another fuzzy face whenever my tears stop falling – it may be a while but hopefully not too long.   

Nancy Persinger