Date of Passing: 09/10/2023
Message to Henry: This is for Henry - the fiercest family dog and best buddy we were honored to have in our pack...
Tell us about Henry: Henry's origin story is probably filled with adventure, but he kept terrible records and never spoke of his past. He chose us to be his family when we first met him at Orphans of the Storm (OOTS) back in 2008.
We were told that he was found wandering in the forest preserve by Lake County Animal Control, and he had no ID. Like many forest preserve wanderers who have no ID and are found by the police, he was taken into custody. After what must have been significant, self-represented legal maneuvering on his part, he was remanded to OOTS.
On arrival, he was placed into general population and assigned a roommate named Mufasa. Without any identification, he was called Little Guy and issued a food bowl. He was categorized as a "shepherd mix." The team at OOTS had him chipped and examined by a vet. During his visit, he told the vet he was born on the "4th of July," but then trailed off and didn't offer up a year. The vet figured he was probably about a year old.
Three days after his arrival at OOTS, our family visited the facility and met the most handsome, energetic and friendly dog in the place - Little Guy. His roommate Mufasa gave great references. While we were convinced that he should be released to our custody, we needed to get the ok from our existing fur-daughter, Lily - a rambunctious princess in the form of a three year old yellow lab.
The next day, Lily accompanied us to OOTS to meet this potential new pack member. The two were allowed to run freely in the fresh snow and get to know each other. After much sniffling and cavorting, it was clear that Lily approved of Little Guy. We promptly paid for Little Guy's bail, and he was cleared to go home with us shortly thereafter.
Once at home, the family held a meeting at Lily's request, because she thought the name "Little Guy" didn't fit this new pack member. After short deliberation, it was decided that Little Guy would be known as Henry going forward. Henry's given name is found often on his dad's side of the family. As with Lily, Henry had a long list of aliases to confuse identity thieves - Hanky, Hanker Tanker, Tank, Heinrich, Heinrich Jodl Wilhelm, Toodles McFadden...
Henry's homecoming was as relaxing as a three ring circus. There was running, barking and jumping on furniture. Lily acted in the dual roles of enforcer and accomplice, depending on what Henry was up to. They seemed to be cut from the same cloth.
As close as they were, Henry marched to the beat of his own drummer. His people began to wonder why he did things a little different than Lily. He didn't seem to act the way a "shepherd mix" dog would. Since he always kept his past a secret, a little research found that he was actually a "Carolina Dog." The breed is very specific, and he matched in every way except his ears - which were floppy instead of perked up. Carolina dogs are native to South Carolina, and can still be found there living wild in swampy areas. Henry's family suspects that he was actually feral, and somehow made his way to Illinois.
Being of potentially feral origin, living in a house was a new experience. It didn't take Henry long to learn that snuggles and sleeping on a soft bed with the fan were the stuff of legend. Playing outside and going for rides were also a delight. His sister was not a big fan of car rides, but he kept her spirits up by playing license plate bingo and other activities on trips.
Henry also found his inner explorer on the many trips he made - North Carolina, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan - to name a few. On his first trip to the ocean, Henry shared that he was a non-swimmer, just like dad. Lily, on the other hand, was a strong swimmer and Henry was happy to be shore support.
Sometimes the exploration got the better of Henry, who was insanely curious. On a hike through the woods in Wisconsin, he found a hole that smelled interesting. Carolina Dogs are noted foragers - they love to find things in the wild. The impulse to stick his entire snout into the dark abyss was too much. His curiosity was sated quickly and he promptly removed his nose from the hole. Ground nesting bees swarmed the area, not feeling as curious about Henry as he was about them. Minutes later, Henry's face began to swell. By the time everyone returned to the house, his face looked like a sharpei - folds and puffs that were completely out of place. A dose of Benadryl restored Henry's face to its normal handsomeness. He didn't really talk about that incident much.
Henry had no problem finding his own way. However, trouble often followed when Lily would encourage him to "think outside the box." Lily had a disorder that caused her to want to eat anything she thought was interesting - disposable razors, kleenex, hard plastic toys, a bag of sweet corn, etc. Being the little brother, Henry often wanted to participate in things Lily was doing.
Playing together outside, Lily found an old baseball the neighbor had failed to retrieve. She and Henry played with it, and Lily began to chew on it. Henry ultimately got control of the ball, and proceeded to finish what Lily started, eating the baseball. Henry's family took him to the emergency vet, where he underwent surgery for an obstruction.
Despite his sister's indiscretions, Henry otherwise maintained a healthy lifestyle, eschewing alcohol and tobacco. During Covid, Henry and dad's bonds became particularly close. They went on walks twice a day - most of the time between two or three miles each. These walks, and a new found love of going everywhere in the car contributed to the strengthening of the relationship.
Henry also often found a partner in crime in his boy - who he met back in 2008. They both had a shared love of food and soft beds. Henry's boy used to sneak food into his bedroom. One day, desiring a bit of privacy, his boy closed the bedroom door after getting some food. Henry felt excluded, so he told his boy in his strongest voice to open up. After having been ignored, Henry took matters into his own paws and ran at the door, breaking out a panel and sticking his head into the bedroom. His boy had no choice but to relent and allow Henry access.
Henry would sometimes get nervous and anxious. The person that could always calm him down and settle in for a good snuggle was mom. Henry loved to snuggle with her, especially if the soft bed was involved. Mom was also Henry's willing play date. She could always make him happy by teasing him a little bit and running off any nervous energy. Of course, when your energy is low, you want to snuggle, so things went full circle! Through his life, Henry had three addresses. Each move brought new smells, and new surroundings. Unfortunately, Lily passed away before the last move, so Henry didn't have his big sister around anymore.
As the years passed, Henry began to have some trouble getting around. His people bought him three soft beds so he could be with them anywhere in the house and be comfortable. The vet discovered cancer as the cause for his mobility issues. Due to his age, surgery was not an option. Henry eventually got a harness that allowed his people to move him when he couldn't do it himself. The harness helped extend the time Henry had with the family he loved.
Knowing that the inevitable was upon them, the family reached out to A Gentle Goodbye to assist Henry over the Rainbow Bridge. Henry put on his bravest face, smiling despite the excruciating pain the cancer had inflicted on him. A place was arranged in the backyard, where he enjoyed basking in the sun. Dr. Sara arrived, and she was regaled with stories of Henry's adventures. The following prayer was offered:
Dear Lord, please open your gates And call St. Francis To come escort this beloved companion Across the Rainbow Bridge.
Assign him to a place of honor, For he has been a faithful servant And has always done his best to please us.
Bless the hands that send him to you, For they are doing so in love and compassion, Freeing him from pain and suffering.
Grant us the strength not to dwell on our loss Help us remember the details of his life With the love he has shown us
And grant us the courage to honor him By sharing those memories with others. Let him remember us as well And let him know that we will always love him.
And when it’s our time to pass over into your paradise, Please allow him to accompany those Who will bring me home. Thank you, Lord, For the gift of his companionship And for the time we’ve had together. And thank you, Lord, For granting us the strength To give him to you now. Amen.
After that, Dr. Sara helped Henry enter eternal peace.