Last week we said goodbye to our trusted family dog – Henry. He’d been with us for sixteen years which is a long time for a large dog, an English Setter. I have to admit we’d joked he was past his “sell-by” date.
He actually nearly checked out earlier in his life. When he was just a puppy he swallowed a corncob he’d stolen from the garbage. It got stuck in his intestines and led to major surgery. It was touch and go and we realized that we’d forked out a lot of money, that we could ill-afford at the time, for a dog that might not make it.
But he did, and we actually had a repeat performance of that surgery years on, but then it was twigs and leaves that he’d eaten. Henry’s love of food, and all that is not edible, was one of his quirky qualities.
When he was a puppy, he ate anything – and I mean anything - from twenty dollar bills, socks to even our marriage certificate. Nothing was safe if it was within his reach. I remember having a party and when my back was turned, he was up at the dining table inhaling half a dessert in seconds flat. He had rather a sweet tooth.
And as for his love of chocolate, he defied all wisdom that chocolate was poisonous to dogs, as he was rather partial to it, and given any opportunity would steal it whenever he could.
He was a gentle dog and when Sophie, his younger, adopted sister arrived on the scene, he took it in his stride. At first he questioned who she was, but ever the gentleman, would give way to her more assertive demands. They made a great pair, and when we lost Sophie a couple of years ago, he missed her.
Latterly, like any senior, he was a tad forgetful. You would put him outside and he’d stand, gaze around and you could almost hear the wheels turning as he asked himself “now what am I supposed to do?” He’d bury his bones and forget where he’d left them and would be digging around the garden, creating big holes as he tried to find them. Just like the hole in our hearts, now he is gone.
We learn so much from our pets - about caring for another being, about love and affection. No matter the pain when they are no longer with us, they bring such joy and happy memories. What more can we ask of man’s best friend? Go in peace Henry.