Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Henry the Hound, 3/98 - 10/13

I lost my best friend today. Henry the Hound has been a fixture in our lives for 15 years, sharing too many adventures to count along the way. The long decline came to an end this morning, peacefully, humanely, in the best way we could hope for.

When I think back to all the times we’ve spent together, all the places we went and the things we did, I’m truly amazed. And it makes me feel better about things, comforted, to know for sure that he had a life of adventure and destinations.

That dog was there for the best and worst days of my life, always there, ready to sit and be petted and talked to for hours on end, ready to slather my face with saliva to show me that someone cares, a lot. I talked to him about Cathy when we first met. He was waiting for us when we brought Theo home from the hospital. He was happy as always to see me and let me know everything was normal and great as always when I got home from an extended trip to Alabama to be with my dad when he died. He was there when we lost Gus and when we found Josie. For ever, it seems, he’s just been there.

He suckered us in from the get-go, the only silent dog in the cacophony of the Lake Austin Boulevard Animal Shelter where we found him, sitting straight and still as a post, waiting, like it was a matter of time before we’d show up and take him home. We did. And that silence didn’t last.

The boy’s always been a bit much. His first weekend home, the first time we took him for a swim in Barton Creek, he swam around, then swam across, climbed the far bank, and wandered right off into the crowd in Zilker Park.

His personality grew outsized practically overnight. We spent his first year trying to keep him contained in our backyard, which proved difficult no matter what type of fence we rigged to keep him in. One night after coming home late, we had 7 phone messages from people who’d found him, and from whom he’d then escaped. The callers’ addresses mapped a broad circuit of South Austin.

Henry was all dog (“a dog’s dog” as Tim always said), noise and motion and exuberance and a total disregard for propriety and manners. His athleticism was matched only by his complete goofiness. He was a comedian and a machine, and he spent his life teaching me the value of just appreciating this moment right here, where we are, doing what we’re doing, putting everything into it, because that’s really all there is.

And now he is a feeling I share with Cathy and Theo. A collection of moments and memories, some of which will never fade.

How his ears were so big when he was a puppy that he couldn’t keep them off the ground or out of his food.

How his regal bearing completely belied his personality.

How we called him Mr. Heavyfoot because even his footsteps were always so loud.

How docks and waterfalls became his favorite launching pads.

How he used to snore so loudly he’d keep us up from a room away.

How he would always be that dog at the dog park that would annoy all the other dogs into chasing him--but never quite catching him.

How if you rubbed his face long enough he’d fall asleep standing up.

How he could go from full-on wooing to snoring in a matter of seconds.

How he always had to sniff your mouth to see what you were eating and if you had any left.

Henry was a born Texan, exploring the state with me from end to end, a 90-pound black-lab-some-kinda-hound mix who loved trail and water and bed with equal gusto. When we brought him to Idaho, he grew to love snow just as much, and we put a lot of marks on this state map, too.

His incessant baying-woooooooing that so often aggravated me (and our neighbors) is a sound that I will never forget, and will always equate with his unabashed and irrepressible joy about everything.

I miss him already. I miss the whirlwind he was in his youth and the sleeping puddle he was in his last months. It’s hard to quantify what a dog brings to your life. With a dog like Henry, that’s so true in so many ways.

I’m really glad I got to know him, and to spend such a beautiful and difficult and trying and wonderful part of my life with him.


khorne said...

Oh Chris, you've made me so sad...and so happy to remember Henry as I met him in Austin and then saw him in Idaho and then Montana. He was a big dog and he leaves a big hole. You captured him so well...which means that he's not totally gone.

greg lilley said...

Ok Now I'm crying, Damn you Hess. I am very sorry for your loss. I met Henry in Austin. He was a great dog. Called him Hank. He didn't like Eric and we had that in common. Hope you are ok. Greg