Precisely one month ago today, our Henry’s mighty steady heart was quieted. I held him as he went still with instructions for him to go and find Mom and Raven, to be sure to wait for me and to know that he would never stop being loved. It was as peaceful and as loving as we could make it for him, at home. His strong heart held out for seventeen years and thirty four days.
The month that has passed hasn’t made the loss any lighter. As I write this, the tears are right there again. I met Henry when he was six weeks old, literally only a handful. I wasn’t looking for a small dog or even a dog at all. I was only there to help socialize the litter of puppies so that they would be ready for their real homes. Three weeks later, I left the socialization sessions with Henry. A month later, we would pick up George from across the mountains but that story is for another time.
Henry, named after Henry Rollins, was my rock. People made the mistake of thinking he was slow or not capable. I cannot tell you how many dogsitters he fooled with his approach to walks. Henry was neither of those things, he was determined and deliberate. The amount of stubborn resistance that he could pack into his 14 pound body was impressive. It was dwarfed by the immense amount of love he gave.
If Henry liked you, it was permanent. He would take his time deciding about you and once he did, you either had a fan for life or not. He could not even be persuaded to change his mind with the application of treats. His moral compass was fully operational. He had a bark that he seldom used but when he did, it was as if it came from 100 pound dog – which was quite useful when people rang the doorbell.
We’re all lost without the center of our family. With all of the rest of us, two footed and four, being busy and stressed, Henry was the Zen. The cats loved being near him. He was George’s therapy dog and at night, he slept between us. We are still missing him in our day to day routines. I am also not yet able to stop saying “The dogs” instead of “The dog”. I don’t know when I will be able to make that transition.
I haven’t wanted to write about it because that would make it so final. Just like picking up his ashes will. I have to remember that there is so much grief because there was so much love. Especially that he gave to all of us.
To my small and stubborn Henry, the heart of our pack, thank you for the years of joy and love that you gave to us. There never would have been enough years. Thank you for the many lessons in “Mindfulness with Henry” as you got older and slowed down a bit, giving me the chance to slow down with you so we could be together in our own bubble, rather than the speed of the world around us. Thank you for always trying and when it was not possible anymore, telling me. Sleep well, my darling.