Today is Henry's Birthday. Well, it could be. About a year ago I decided that Henry and I would have the same Birthday. You see, when you've got yourself a rescue pup and no one knows his history, you end up making up your own. For instance, I am convinced Henry spent his first year traveling with truck drivers; the way in which he cuddles up in my passenger seat and *places his head on the center console, keeping his eyes fixed on me while I drive makes me wonder. I am also convinced that he was bred to hunt squirrels and rabbits; his sense of smell and instinct to chase all things small and furry is primal.
When I imagine what his first year was like I also conjure up images of abuse, moving from home to home and running lost in the woods, but I like to focus on the present. Henry was rescued by the organization Pet Matchmaker last August, so just recently we had our one year anniversary. In honor of those significant dates and the fact that I am a strong proponent of adopting dogs from shelters and rescue organizations I give you a list of the ways in which this crazy, lovable, nub-tailed mutt has improved my quality of life:
1. He keeps me moving. I've always been one to go to the gym and workout, but I certainly have my days where it's the last thing I want to do. While Henry doesn't drag me to the gym, I know the consequences of not taking him for his daily walks and runs. Regardless of the weather, my mood, or how busy I am, the pooch needs his walk, which means I get mine too.
2. No matter how supportive your friends and family are, having the love of your life in a war zone can be lonely, depressing and can cause some major anxiety. Having someone to come home to with a wagging tail and excited howl lifts my spirits regardless of the day I've been having.
3. He's a vacuum cleaner. This is a cooking blog, so as you can imagine, I make a mess in the kitchen quite often. If food ever falls on the floor, no need to worry that it will go to waste, Henry will be there to gobble it up.
4. He can read me. One day I was feeling deathly ill and weak with a high temperature and had to leave work early. I was worried that once I got home Henry would be antsy to go for a walk and play. As soon as I stepped in the door I started crying -- the weakness and fever was overbearing and I threw myself onto the couch and Henry got it. This normally high-energy wacko jumped up on the couch, snuggled right in and comforted me for the night.
5. And since adopting Henry a lot has happened: I have moved into my own place, watched the A-man leave for war, watched my sister give birth to my beautiful niece, joyfully welcomed the A-man back from war, got proposed to, watched my sister, bro-in-law and new niece move to the middle of the country, watched the A-man leave for war again, and traveled halfway around the world for work. That's a lot of ups and downs for one year and this little guy has been by my side for all of it.
Henry's not perfect and neither am I. We had a rough start; his behavior issues and lack of training were extremely stressful to deal with. He's gotten loose and run off for hours at a time, he's ingested chocolate and scared me to death, and at one point his barking caused my new, grumpy, old neighbor to lecture me (I own up to all three of these instances; they were my fault) about my dog. Dog care isn't all fun and if it weren't for my parents who willingly take him on weekends that I am away and treat him like a member of their family, I probably wouldn't have a dog, but this dog, this somtimes smelly, somtimes loud, sometimes embarassing ball of muscle brings me so much love that I know I would feel empty without him.
To some people, a dog's a dog. To me, he's a whole lot more.
For a great resource on where you can view adoptable pets in your area, please visit Petfinder.com
*I do not recommend traveling with your pet in the front seat. There are many good harness seat-belt systems out there that are meant for dogs in cars.