ONE BEAUTIFUL SOUL HEALS ANOTHER
A hero is not necessarily someone made famous by their triumphs or acts of bravery.
Simple acts of kindness can demonstrate heroism when selflessly extended to others in need.
I grew up on a farm and was lucky to be surrounded by many animals, including dogs. Punchie joined my family when her owners (my godparents) moved to Japan, and Wimpy was a little Beagle given to my mother as a gift from my father. Other dogs came and went; most had been dumped or left behind by hunters.
Years later, my husband and I rescued a fluffy little dog we named Henry. He was my first dog, as an adult. My first real dependent for whom I was responsible. We also had cats, but any cat person will tell you – a feline is self-assured and will let you know, in no uncertain terms if they need (or want) anything or if something is not right in their world. Cats are fairly independent.
Henry looks to my husband and me for direction and structure in his life; including meals, walks, and playtime. Henry is incredibly smart and soon learned what he could do to make us laugh.
Henry loves to make people laugh.
This dog is very special. Others have said so; it’s not just me being biased. Henry is happy, he is generous with affection and is a gentle soul that warms the heart of everyone he meets. Henry would brighten the faces of seniors and care-providers at my Grandmother’s nursing home. He plays and dances with children – they giggle when he displays that big, goofy, toothy smile of his, and if one of those children should become upset and cry, it would be Henry to the rescue. I can’t tell you how proud I am to watch the transformation in people when Henry applies his charm.
My husband and I hoped that Henry would become a therapy dog. He is well-mannered and enjoys spending time with people. He is extremely intuitive and will sit quietly next to those in need of comforting or put on a little performance if they need cheering up. Some simply feel better when infected with a dose of that contagious smile.
Henry became a therapy dog the day we rescued Reese
Henry is Reese’s therapy dog.
Henry taught his new little sister, who was, in fact, sixteen months older, how to be a dog. A dog as defined as a companion animal and not a piece of property or livestock.
You see, Henry and Reese are both Puppy Mill dogs.
Henry developed an eye infection, an ailment not uncommon for mill dogs. Minimal care is provided to these dogs, and medical treatment is virtually nonexistent. Henry was surrendered because the Miller did not want to pay for veterinary care and spend the time to treat the infection. Thankfully, the rescue organization that Henry was surrendered to acted quickly and his eye was successfully treated. Another mill dog surrender – Little Sophie, also suffering from an eye infection arrived into the care of the rescue too late for treatment and her eye had to be removed.
Reese’s story though heartbreaking, does have a happy ending. Many mill dogs spend their entire living in squalor in these barns. The cages are stacked in rows on top of each other. Drop-pans are used to collect waste from the dogs as they are not granted the luxury of a walk or outdoor time to do their business.
These dogs are not socialized; they are manhandled and mistreated. Mostly, they are neglected except for the basic provision of food and water to keep them alive for the purpose of profit. Their puppies sold to the unknowing public – or those in denial either from a staged kennel on the millers property or through their affiliates, the brokers and pet stores where they are supplied as stock.
We rescued Reese nearly one year after we rescued Henry. We thought it would be nice for Henry to have a friend during the days when my husband and I both had to work. Little did we know, Henry would be the much-needed companion for Reese. All the while we had Henry, Reese had been locked in a cage and was being used as a breeding dog birthing puppies to supply more dogs to pet stores. That realization and the thought of all of the other dogs like Reese that are in still in cages today breaks my heart.
We did not realize how traumatized Reese was. This quivering little shell of a dog would hide in corners and beneath furniture. Her eyes were vacant; she had become shut down. If we were able to corner her to pick her up, her little body would stiffen like a board, and she would shake uncontrollably.
Gradually, we increased the amount of contact we made with her and the duration of each cuddle. Ultimately, it was Henry that taught Reese to trust us. It had taken nearly a year before we noticed significant changes. Henry would approach us for a fuss and Reese would follow him. She would keep her distance until we lowered ourselves to floor level and rested on our elbows. Only then did she feel safe enough to draw near.
Reese had to learn everything as if she were a puppy. She was two-years-old. She had never been for a walk, so a leash was foreign to her, and she had not yet walked on grass. Henry coached Reese on potty-training; where to do her business and the etiquette of timing. He showed her how to nest and make herself comfortable on a bed. In the spring Henry introduced her to new smells that arose from the ground – previously hidden by snow. Henry taught Reese that not all humans are evil.
Henry taught Reese the most important lesson of all; how to play, and how to run and what it felt like to be free! She learned all the things in life that our companions should experience and enjoy.
The process of rehabilitation is ongoing and not easy. It had taken more than two years before Reese was able to interact socially. She is still fearful, and we avoid many situations that may cause her to become anxious.
Watching the changes occur and seeing the light that now shines in Reese’s eyes is unlike any other experience. I can’t begin to describe the joy I feel watching Reese copy Henry’s mannerisms and seeing her initiate play with him. I will never tire of the pitter-patter of her tiny paws across the floor as she retrieves her toys and I can listen to her bark endlessly as she asks us to throw those toys.
Henry makes my heart swell with pride. This beautiful soul instinctively knew what Reese needed, and he helped his sister heal.
Every day, Henry inspires me to be a better person and leads by example:
Be Kind and be generous. Learn to be compassionate; recognize when someone is in need and provide encouragement and support to those individuals. Sometimes sitting silently with someone will provide them the most comfort. Keep your heart open.
Henry Is Our Hero