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.

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