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Archive for April, 2009

The tao of Henry.

Okay, so it’s just that when you look around at the world during any given day, there are a lot of things that can piss you off, right? Traffic, co-workers, slow computers, telemarketers. Oh yeah, and ongoing calls for Herbert Trobridge, the former owner of my cell phone number, who apparently took off leaving behind a trail of unpaid debt and some Comcast cable equipment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big proponent of gratitude, and I try to find many places and opportunities for it every day.

But when I’m a lesser person during the course of the day who does get angry at the woman who almost ran over my mother, my six month old daughter, and me to get the good parking spot outside of Whole Foods or the man who won’t stop calling me from Everglades University, I can’t seem to find the gratitude.

Fortunately, it doesn’t last too awfully long. There are many things that manage to pull me back to gratitude these days. And there are others that continue to make me perk up and notice the world around me in a whole new way.

Those are the interesting ones, because they cause me to pause and say,”Hmmmm, that’s interesting.” I’ll tuck that away for future reference.

One of the more entertaining and touching phenomena has occured over the last 15 months since we got our Old English Sheepdog, Henry (below).

Our Henry

Henry is an absolute love in our life. We adore him. He’s quirky, spunky, adorable, and fun. We didn’t plan to get an OES, but somehow he just fit for us and ended up being the perfect addition to our growing (we didn’ t know it at the time) family. So, obviously he puts a smile on our faces all the time.

But, what we didn’t count on was the number of smiles he would put on others’ faces. And it continues to be a source of complete awe and interest for me in my daily life.

In our new life in Florida, Henry doesn’t have the same spacious yard he had up in Plattsburgh, so we are out for walks both in the morning and in the evening with occasional potty breaks out in the “green area” outside our townhome. Henry gets a lot of face time in Catalina Lakes, our townhome community.

With that face time comes a phenomena I cannot adequately describe, but I’m going to try.

Quite simply, wherever Henry is, he is the Beau of the Ball, the Prom King, the raison d’etre. And people continue to remind me of that wherever we go.

An easy example: Yesterday, we were on our walk, our standard route, on the sidewalk. A minivan passed us slowly and then stopped in the middle of the street. The window opened, and a man yelled out,”Beautiful dog! Wow! Good boy!” I smiled and said,”Thanks!” and kept walking. The man sat and watched us walk by and then continued on.

Maybe it’s not that unusual. I don’t know.

I know I’ve never stopped in the middle of the street to comment on anything, much less a dog. And I’m an animal-lover, so it’s not like it would be out of character or anything.

Another example: A couple of weeks ago, I took him to be groomed. When he was finished, he came out and, of course, looked adorable–like a fluffy muppet of a dog. Before I left, two women entered the shop and stopped dead in their tracks, and one cooed,”Oooohhhh, look at him. He’s like a big bear!” The other chimed in,”He’s like the dog from The Little Mermaid!” (I hadn’t realized that there was an OES in The Little Mermaid. Didn’t that cartoon take place under water?) We left, and they continued to ooh and ahh over him all the way out into the parking lot, even after I had loaded him into the Jeep. I know this, because as I turned to go to my side of the car, I saw them pointing.

Just minutes later, as we were at a busy intersection, Henry in the front seat with his head out the window, I observed a woman in her car in the neighboring lane. She looked at him initially, and said what I think was,”Awww, how cute!” I smiled, as I always do, looked ahead, and waited for the light to change. I glanced over a few seconds later, and the same woman was turned completely around, still looking at Henry. I smiled again and thought nothing of it. I looked forward again and then back a few seconds later and she was making faces at him–not weird ones, just cutesy faces. Anyway, this continued until the light changed, and we were off again.

So, there are always more stories. They happen daily.

I’m not exaggerating. They are daily occurences.

I’m certain the only reason I know anyone in our complex is because of Henry.

“Hi, Henry!”
“How’s Henry today?”
“Henry got a haircut!”
“Oh, Henry, what a handsome boy!”
“What kind of dog is Henry again?

And then after the two to three minutes of Henry interaction:

“Oh, what’s your name again?” or “Oh, you have a baby. What’s her name?”

Or sometimes, just “Take care.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care. I’m fascinated by it. Hence, this blog.

Henry just seems to be a little piece of magic in this world, and it’s wonderful.

People walking their own dogs stop in their tracks to admire Henry. People turn around after we’ve walked by to continue looking at him. The words,”Look at that dog!” have become commonplace wherever we go. We’ve answered more questions about Henry that we’ve ever answered about our beautiful daughter (she gets plenty of love and attention from lots of people, so I don’t feel too bad about it).

And I have turned into this proud mother of this wonderful dog who brings a smile to almost everyone’s face. And that continues to bring a smile to my face.

It’s that simple. But I don’t think it’s that common.

And that makes it worth paying attention to.

Because every time Henry comes over to me in the middle of the day with his telltale (tail?) whine that tells me it’s time to go out, and I sigh (midday sun is hot in Florida) and say,”Okay, Henry. Let’s go.” And I get the baby ready to go out in the midday sun, and we finally get outside. And by then I’m like,”Go, already, okay?”

But then, most times, someone is outside somewhere that notices him and greets him first and perhaps Delaney and me afterward. And it just makes me smile. Because people want to interact with Henry. And that just seems special.

Oh, and one more thing. Because of this overwhelming response to Henry, I now use him as a litmus test for trusting people. When people don’t acknowledge him, I don’t acknowledge them. I don’t mean that like he was snubbed or anything. It’s just that Henry is such a friendly and trusting presence that everyone likes him. When someone doesn’t, I don’t necessarily trust them. Simple.

So, that’s my tribute to Henry. Our wonderful, fluffy, attentive, playful, beautiful muppet of a dog.

He has caused me to pay attention in a new way.

And I’m always looking for that. Thanks, Henry.

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