I am sad to inform all those who might have known Henry the Australian cattle dog, whom I adopted from the Los Angeles SPCA in 1992, that he passed quietly today. His resume was an impressive one. A friend recently reminded me that he was a “most excellent ring bearer” at my wedding. He even claimed “International Traveler” in his CV, having visited my husband’s family in Canada. Under near-death experiences, he could list “ingested rat poisoning,” “ingested antifreeze,” “overdosed on Rimadyl,” having broken into his liver-flavored meds and eaten the contents of the whole bottle (My husband, Marc, induced Henry with hydrogen pyroxide to vomit up the pills — all over the back of Marc’s station wagon). Among Henry’s gastro-intestinal challenges: He once ate 18 ounces of raisins. Another time, the night before my mother’s funeral, he mowed through a box of See’s candy. And yet another event had him polish off a half-dozen Cliff Bars, most of which he pooped out in the parking lot of the Nordic Center at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. Knowing Henry’s indiscriminating tastes, we kept our kitchen garbage bin chained in a latched cupboard. Despite the fact that his people couldn’t keep up with his fast-and-furious lifestyle, Henry lived to a ripe 16 years and 8 months.
I’m sure he’s looking down at us right now, wagging his raccoon-like tail up and down and in circles. He must be amazed that in 16 years and 8 months I never discovered his secret. Whenever I left the house for more than 5 minutes, he transformed his dew claws into primary digits. Then he thumbed through all the cupboards, especially the chained-up garbage, which was in fact his favorite snack. The messier the better.
Covert thumbs or not, I miss my fur-shedding, mess-making muse.