The Truth About Henry

If you aren’t a dog person, I’m sure you’re really sick of hearing about Henry.

Even if you are a dog person, I still bet you’re beginning to lose interest. I just adore everything about him. We’ve had him for two weeks, and I already can’t remember how I lived without him. I’ve posted nothing but rainbows & butterflies since the Sunday that we signed his adoption papers, but I purposely left out a little something that happened that almost changed everything.

Three days after we signed his adoption papers, I left the shelter bawling and announcing that I no longer wanted to bring him home.

I’ll back up. We made his adoption official on a Sunday, but we couldn’t bring him home for an entire week, because he still needed to be neutered. Now that he was officially ours, I couldn’t stand the idea of him staying in the shelter, not knowing his fate and not getting any of the attention that he deserved. I decided that I would swing by the shelter one day to walk him, give him some kisses, and hopefully start forming a bond.

I approached his kennel to say hi, and I thought he was going to maul my face off. His eyes were wild, and his bark was louder than any I’d heard before. He growled constantly and tried to bite anyone that approached him. He was nothing like the dog we’d met in the grassy meet & greet area a couple of days before.

Chocolate lab in the shelter

I’m no stranger to difficult dogs. I’m not scared of the giants, the “dangerous” breeds, or the yappy, overprotective ones. In fact, people have called me the “dog whisperer” for my ability to calm down the most difficult pups. Henry wanted nothing to do with me. He growled, he snapped, he barked, and he just wanted me to leave him alone. I was so upset. I’ve never been scared of a dog before, but he terrified me.

I texted Jeremy and my mom immediately to tell them that Henry was an awful, vicious dog, and I no longer wanted to adopt him.

I’m a pretty emotional person, and I tend to say exactly what I’m thinking without filtering a thing. They know this, and they both told me the same thing: Calm down, don’t make an irrational decision, speak to the volunteers at the shelter, give Henry another chance.

I left the shelter, deciding that I would wait until Saturday (his pick-up date) and re-evaluate. Even so, I spent the rest of the week thinking that we had made a huge mistake, and sadly wondering if we could get our money back for the crate, toys, and food we’d already purchased.

It sounds silly, but I was kicking myself for already introducing Henry to the big, bad social media world. I’d even written a blog post, talking about how excited I was to bring him home. I knew that if we ended up with a different dog, I’d have to explain why… and I didn’t want to give anyone the impression that shelter dogs are bad dogs. Because I know for a fact that some of the best dogs in the world come from shelters.

Saturday rolled around, and we were going to try bringing the monster home.

I honestly wasn’t sure if he would bite me the second I saw him, or get to our apartment and just wreak havoc. We sat in the waiting area of the shelter, and a volunteer told us that Henry would be right out.

The second Henry came out, he was a different dog. He was timid, he was confused, but he was so incredibly loving. Seeing him in the waiting room, outside of the harsh metal kennel, I realized that the “wildness” in his eyes that I thought I’d seen earlier was just a terrible fear. When I look at pictures from that afternoon now, all I see is terror.

Scared chocolate lab in the shelter

If I gave up on Henry because of his behavior in the shelter, I would’ve been making the biggest mistake.

He has brought our little family more joy in the past two weeks than I can begin to describe. With some healthy food, long walks, sunshine, cuddles, and a whole lot of love, he looks and acts like a completely different dog.

Here are two things that I’ve discovered about Henry. While his crossed eyes are adorable, they affect his vision severely. He can see, but barely. While the shelter is a miserable place for any dog, can you imagine being stuck in those loud, cement cells without being able to see anything? That sounds like my worst nightmare, and it breaks my heart for him.

Another thing I quickly noticed about Henry is that he cowers whenever anyone raises their hand at all around him. I’ll never know how he spent the first year and a half of his life, but I am almost certain he was hit regularly. I cannot fathom the type of person who would hit a dog like this.

I have a point to this post, I promise.

On most of the pictures I post about Henry, I include a string of hashtags. #AdoptDontShop, #RescuedIsMyFavoriteBreed, and many more. My own boyfriend has said that I can seem a little self-righteous, and that’s not how I want to come across. I’ve just always believed in taking in dogs that need homes, and I believe that 100 times more now that Henry is in my life.

I have the most cuddly, fun, playful, loyal, loving dog, that may not have found another family because of his shelter behavior. And it’s because shelters are not acceptable places for dogs. They do amazing work and I am so thankful that they took Henry in, but dogs are not themselves in that environment. Henry seemed so unadoptable because he was in a terrifying, confusing, cold environment.

And when we walked away with him, there were dozens and dozens of dogs left, scared, sad, and acting out. I speak so much about adoptions because watching Henry blossom has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

So there… now you know the startling secret about my fur child. He is a recovering asshole, and he almost never came home.

But now I know he only wanted a forever home, some belly rubs, and a safe place to sleep. I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Henry, living the good life.

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