Monday, October 19, 2009

After A Week...

It'll be a week today since we ended Henley's life to spare him more agony from bone cancer. Every single day I have told myself - we have told ourselves that we did what we needed to do to love Henley just as sacrificially and faithfully as he loved us. That last day was no exception.

It's probably hard for people who have never let a dog capture their heart to grasp just how much they become a part of your life. So let me give you a rundown of what we would have done with Henley so far today.

When we woke up, I'd have looked beside the bed to see how he was. Sometimes he'd scoot so far under the bed he'd get stuck, or back himself into the corner. So I'd check. Then each of us in turn would take a minute to love on Henley before we left the bedroom.

We'd be busy making breakfast and doing morning chores, and we'd hear a "FLAP, FLAP, FLAP" which would be Henley getting his ears in shape. The next thing we'd hear is Henley getting up and making his way down the hall. If we were in the kitchen, he'd look over at us, pause, and we'd call out to him, celebrating another day's beginning. Then we'd take him outside.

From there, we'd come back in and Henley would most often go and get some water. Then he'd come back in where we were eating breakfast and lie down beside us on the couch. That is unless there was bacon involved. Without it, he just shifted his sleep from the bedroom to the couch. With it, he would sit and loom over whoever had it until you gave it up. But most of the time Henley would lay on the loveseat, getting up from it only to stroll outside or get some water and food.

Unless we left the room.

Then Henley would hunt us down and lay down near us. If I was in my office, it wasn't unusual for him to get up and come and sit in the chair with me, getting his rubs and scratches. Or he'd sit in the big chair and look out the window, or pick up his front legs while he sat and paw at me until I paid him the attention he wanted. After a sufficient amount of affection was delivered, he'd lie down nearby.

At lunch, he'd stir himself to come see me about a hot dog. Henley LOVED hot dogs. Earlier in his life I would just give them to him whole, but later because of occasional problems with hot dog returns, I'd mash them up with my hands and put them over his food, making sure that no part was too big for him. Bunny would pour the water off her tuna over his food sometimes as well. Even if he wasn't ready to eat, all you had to say was "go see!" and he'd get up and head back to where his raised food bowls were.

When we'd leave, he'd be left lying on the loveseat. That was where he spent the majority of his day. But when we returned he would meet us at the back door, peeking around Bunny to see me. I'd greet him with as much affection as he did me then he'd go get some more love from Bunny. At times he'd give us some of the vocal antics we heard about even before we picked him up as a puppy. "Oh, the puppy is very vocal," the rescue folks had told us. And he was. A "woo woo woo" was the height of an affectionate response and all three of us LOVED that. If we were gone, even overnight, we'd get a welcome by an almost frantic dog who couldn't seem to tell us enough how much we were missed.

After we got home from work he'd settle back into his spot next to one of us on either the couch or loveseat. Toward the end he could only spend a certain amount of time on one side or the other, and added his bed on the floor to his routine. Dogs are often stoic, and it's hard to tell they hurt, but changes like that coupled with his lameness let us know.

Once we were ready to go to bed, we'd lower the shades, and the sound of them coming down was a trigger for Henley to make his way down the hall and wait for me to get his bed ready. Once it was, he'd circle a couple of times and lie down with a sigh. I'd have to step around him to get into bed, but without fail I'd scratch his face or stroke those velvet-like ears. When the lights were turned out, often he'd sigh again. I always thought that was his way of saying "another day with those crazy humans is over, now I can rest." Henley loved us fiercely every day.

I started this post at church and am finishing it here at the house. Henley added so much to each of us Wilsons. But I'd have to say that he also cost us in other relationships. We just hosted our friend Allan Hill, Sean's friend Jason, and Sean and Chelsea for supper. That wouldn't have happened with Henley here. Allan was scared of Henley. And we'd have had to spend some energy keeping him out of our hair during supper. I blame us, not him. We could have trained him to be more social, and we didn't. To those who came often, he was great. But you had to get to know him.

The most awesome dog I have ever known has been gone a week now. Life goes on, we even get some blessings like tonight we wouldn't have gotten with him, but I miss him terribly still.

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