Some animals walk into your life and leave a permanent mark on your heart. Somehow, Hank did more than that – Hank was the kind of dog to steal your heart after melting it and leaving footprints all over it.
Formerly known as Batman, Hank came into the care of ARL as a stray back in October 2015. A four-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier, some people might have looked at Hank as he sat alone in his kennel and turned him away because he looked like your “typical” pit bull. Unfortunately, negative perceptions of pit bull type dogs often start right in their kennels at the shelter, and it was clear that he was not the most desirable animal at the shelter, as he had waited for a forever home for a total of four and a half months. Like many shelter dogs, Hank shifted into a depression during his stay at the shelter and stopped showing interest in toys and even people. It was all thanks to the day that he met his soon-to-be owner, Stephanie, that his luck began to change for the better.
On Christmas Eve of 2015, Hank went home with Stephanie to be fostered, in hopes that his spirits would lift up, and he could get comfortable while waiting for his new home. Suddenly, he was perky as can be, learning to coexist with cats (who, much to Hank’s dismay, just didn’t have the same appetite for playing as he did), and instantly becoming the toast of the town in his mom’s neighborhood. It wasn’t long before Hank ended up sticking around permanently, and that February, Hank was formally adopted by his foster mom.
Over time, the dog who had somehow been passed up day after day at the shelter would come to be a remarkably beloved ARL alumnus not only to our staff, but also to anyone who crossed his path. For five years after his adoption, Hank illuminated any room he walked into with his radiant smile and happy-go-lucky disposition. Any time we needed an ARL alumni to represent our organization at an outreach event, Hank was always there, ready to prove to the world that rescue dogs are just as capable as being the most loyal companions as any other dog. And he did exactly that as he showed off his good manners and affectionate personality that captivated the hearts of even those who were skeptical of pit bulls. Some of the many events where he loved to ham it up with the public on behalf of ARL included Subaru’s Share the Love donation campaign, the COVID window visit at Amity Place, the Junior League of Reading’s Young Women’s Summit at Opportunity House, and Dogs & Brews at the Reading Museum.
Unfortunately, after already having beaten cancer three years ago, this past January, Hank was diagnosed with TCC/Transitional Cell Carcinoma, a cancer that was located in his bladder. For seven months, Hank braved out all of his appointments, ultrasounds, bloodwork, dietary changes (Mom couldn’t disguise those supplements even if she tried!), and doctor visits as he fought back against his cancer. He was an absolute hero as he persevered through his battle. While we were all cheering him on from the sidelines, we are heart-wrenched to report that Hank crossed the rainbow bridge this past August. Now, as we mourn his passing, we hope that sharing Hank’s story will allow his light to shine on forever and leave people with the same warm and fuzzy feeling he left in those who crossed his path. We don’t know what happens after our beloved furry friends leave this world… But we are hopeful Hank is now among our other beloved alumni, roaming freely, playing with all the best toys, and eating the most delicious treats together (maybe some blueberries and sweet potatoes, some of Hank’s favorites snacks).