Goodbye, Henry

Written By: Kim - Apr• 09•20

Henry crossed the rainbow bridge today. Sadly, he was diagnosed with bone cancer after a back leg limp that would not go away. One week we were treating him for a muscle sprain, and the next week our dog was dying. We are devastated. We were left with two choices: full back leg amputation or euthanasia. Henry, one of our two Airedale Terriers, was an extremely active dog, and removing his whole leg would have made him miserable. The survival rate for bone cancer after amputation is not promising. There was no guarantee he would survive months or years after an amputation anyway. 

We did not have Henry for long. We fostered him in January 2016 after I insisted that our other Airedale Terrier Sydney needed a friend. He was 9 months old when we first saw him. Henry was the smelliest, loudest, most humping marking male dog that we had ever seen. He was sorely in need of a good bath and grooming. It took two baths to get him clean. The other family members were ready to give him back to the rescue after that first weekend. His behavior was obnoxious. For some reason, I could not part with this dog, even though he had also marked my dining room table legs the first day he arrived. Henry had no manners and didn’t know any commands – even sit. Abigail, the dog whisperer, taught him some manners. We were soon smitten.

He stole food off of the counter the first few weeks we had him. He once ate cantaloupe rind that was freshly cut but waiting for the compost pile. He would body slam Sydney against the wall or couch (he had 30 pounds on her) after a few minutes of play. He just didn’t know when to stop. Or maybe he did, and that was his way of showing her he was bigger. He barked at EVERYTHING, and EVERYONE and his bark was deep and fierce. He was the ultimate protector. Henry thought that he owned not only our house, the sidewalks he could see, but also the cul de sac behind us. Henry had acute hearing and could hear a delivery truck before it rounded the corner on our street. He seemed to hate all delivery people and would jump two or three feet in the air as they approach our front step. 

Henry enjoys the sunshine and warmth on a recent winter day.

Henry chased cats, squirrels, groundhogs and birds in our backyard. To our chagrin, he recently fought off a raccoon. I had no idea that raccoons would stand their ground. He once, much to our dismay, caught a bunny. And true to his hunter nature, snapped its neck. He had an acute sense of hearing, seemingly beyond the normal dog range. Henry would chase afternoon reflections on the ceiling when you had your mobile device shining the light just so. Sydney has never done this. For some unexplained reason, like most of his behavior, Henry hated riding lawn mowers. Every Thursday, our neighbor, Mr. Ernest, would get on his riding lawnmower and Henry would freak out so much that we had to bring him into the house. However, when Mike would mow our lawn with the pushmower, Henry seemed to accept it.

He trusted a few people, but I guess if someone had given me up, I wouldn’t trust many humans either. You know how some dogs wag their tails quickly when they are excited or happy? Sydney’s tail would wag so fast that we called her “propeller butt.” Henry never wagged his tail like that. He would wag his tail rather pensively as if he was sizing you and the situation up, like he was suspicious. He destroyed the first two beds we purchased for his crate and was relegated to sleeping on a beach towel after that. He preferred only the freshwater from Sydney’s bowl as if it was more special than the fresh water in his bowl. Henry enjoyed sitting outside for hours, and when the weather was inclement, we would have to bring him inside so he would not freeze. He loved the snow. And Mike. We affectionately nicknamed Mike “his boyfriend,” and whenever we would tell Henry to go find him, he always sought Mike out. Despite Henry’s lack of trust among humans, he was still so relaxed when I groomed him that he would lay down. 

Henry loved to have his backside scratched. He loved to play fetch and, unlike Sydney, actually brought the toy back to you to toss again until he was exhausted. I nicknamed him “Flat Stanley” after the childhood book series. Despite his 70-pound body, Henry was always able to squeeze into tight spaces and contort his body beyond what you would think a big dog could do. He was famous for going upstairs, dislodging the gate, and walking into the master bath shower. How did we know? He always left footprints there. Henry was a farm dog at heart. He would lay under the deck in the hot and humid summers. We still don’t understand how he could fit there. He loved all food and never turned anything down that we offered. Henry was crate trained by the time he came to us. So, at the end of the day, when he was finished with his humans, he would go to his crate to sleep. And he did not wished to be bothered.

Henry was smart. He had a good life with us. He spent his last days laying in his beloved backyard, sunning himself and keeping a watchful eye. He was loved, and he loved us. And at the end of his life, he was surrounded by his family.

A 2014 Love Letter to My Family

Written By: Kim - Dec• 25•14

This year is coming to a close. As I think back about 2104, there have been wonderful changes for our family. The three of you (ok, four if you count Sydney, our Airedale Terrier) continue to make my life full. I love coming home because of you. Here are the highlights that I remember:

  • Connor, you finished your sophomore year and started your junior year. You continue to mature and grow in your approach to handling your schoolwork. I am so proud of you.
  • You are still dating the same girl you were last year when I wrote my 2013 letter. Maintainin2014-02-07 14.23.37-1g a relationship takes work. Maintaining one that is now long distance since she moved on to college, takes even more work. Congratulations on this milestone. She is lovely inside and out. We like the two of you together. And, you attended her senior prom. From out point of view, it seemed like a fun experience for you.
  • You found your first part-time job, lifeguarding. As much as you complained about being on the swim team, it’s ironic that you continue to earn a paycheck as a lifeguard. I admit that I am having the last laugh on this after all the push back you gave me. You have taken your work seriously and I am proud of you. You also turned down a beach vacation this summer with your best friend to spend more time with your girlfriend before she left for college. Very telling son, that you know where your priorities are at your age. Your loyalty to those you love is astounding.
  • Connor, you not only earned your driver’s license, you also purchased your first vehicle. I thought I had left jacked up trucks with big tires behind when I moved from Alabama, but your truck is a constant reminder of where I came from. And, that’s never a bad thing. You are now beginning to understand that money does not grow on trees. This is a major milestone in anyone’s growth and I am glad that you have realized this at your age. I am so grateful that God gifted me with you. Your future is so bright and I am happy to be a part of it.
  • Abby, you transitioned from junior high school to high school this fall. I am so happy that you like high school. You are such a serious child. I think that you have an old soul. Based on what I know about you, it makes complete sense to me that you enjoy being around people who are more mature than the kids your age.
  • 2014-08-31 13.56.05Despite my pleading that you join the swim team (you do sustain less injuries), you made the basketball team. You are working hard to improve yourself. Even as a young child, you always had fantastic hand-eye coordination and this is now paying off for you as an athlete. I am so proud of all that you have accomplished.
  • You currently are 10th in your class academically. Abby, you are super smart. I knew it the minute I first looked into your eyes. Your future is so bright and I am happy to be a part of it.
  • Abby, this spring you were confirmed. In our Catholic faith, this is not only a sacrament, but a major milestone. My heart is so full as you continue on this faith-filled journey.
  • I am not going to lie, Abby. Our relationship has been strained this year. Friends with older teenage girls say this phase is normal for girls your age. I am glad to hear this, but I will also be glad when this phase is over. It really hurts me that we don’t seem as close as we used to be. But, I am still extremely grateful that God gifted me with you. And, if I ever made you feel anything less than that, I am truly sorry.

2014-08-10 19.59.11Mike, we celebrated the big 23 years of wedded bliss in 2014. What a journey we have been on. In church recently I looked over at you while you were on your knees praying. My heart was so full of joy and love for you at that moment, I am not quite sure how to express myself. I will just say that I cannot imagine being on this life journey with anyone else. Thank you for being my husband. And I am most definitely glad that God gifted me with you because without you, who knows what my life now would look like. Thank you for your support as I left my six-figure job to start my own business. Out of all the people I know, I knew that you would understand the most. Thank you for believing in me.

I love you all. Here’s to an even better 2015.