Monday, January 31, 2011
After my childhood dog Scamp died at age 11, oh she was the most beautiful collie-shepherd-beagle mix, a dear dog who was my pillow and my protector as a child, my parents and I made a trek to the Bangor Humane Society where we'd planned to get a puppy. I was so excited as at the age of 12, I'd never had a puppy. I remember looking at the ones available and zeroing in on a little brown pup in particular. But then I was told that one had already been claimed. "Anne, come here. Look at this one", I heard my Dad calling. I politely made my way over to my father but I had no intentions of selecting a grown dog. But there he was, a raggedy black and white Old English sheepdog mixed with the breed of airedale we'd be told later. His tail was broken but it had not been bobbed in the traditional sheepdog fashion. He sat extending his paw through the kennel bars as if shaking my Dad's hand and introducing himself repeatedly. He was awfully cute I had to admit. "But he's not a puppy", I thought. Still, I couldn't leave him. I suppose what they say is true, you can't help who you fall in love with...
We found out that Henry had been in the shelter for several days. They were not going to keep him around much longer. He had been abandoned by a family that could not care for him. They said he was only six months old but later our vet would say he was only five months of age. He was not housebroken but it took my Mom only a day or two to solve that problem. He indeed came home with our family. And by that evening, he'd been named Henry.
Henry seemed like a formidable protector. But although he had a fierce way of bounding down the driveway to meet my new friends and boyfriends who were always taken aback by his size, Henry was nothing but a cuddly teddy bear. Scamp had nipped at others who he saw getting too close to me, but Henry had his own way of communicating his affections. The only embarrassing fault of his was that he had a habit of burping. Yes, I had adopted a burping dog. This quality of his quickly won over my teenage friends who found Henry to be most entertaining.
Henry lived to be 14 years old. He missed me when I went away to college at age 18 but he lived long enough to meet my daughter Sydney. My favorite home video of Henry is of his taking a drink from the lake and as if on cue, two year old Sydney bent down to lap up the lake too, right at Henry's side. He was a good dog. Aren't they all?
I have this dream that when I go to heaven, I'll meet up with Scamp and Henry and good ol' Charlie and whoever comes next. And yes, I'll see my kitties too--Sam, Jazz, Louie, and Boo. You see, Heaven would not BE Heaven without our furry loved ones. Of this I am sure.
To close this for tonight, I want to share how my friend Gerard once immortalized Henry in a poem. The poem is seven stanzas long, proof of Henry's inspiring personality! In the last four lines my friend wrote,
So knowing my luck when I'm dead and I'm gone
And off to Heaven I race,
I'll find that God has hired Old Henry
To guard those pearly gates.
Scamp, Henry, Charlie, and which ever future dog wins my heart next... how much I will adore seeing you on the other side.