I met Henry for the second time when I visited Cyprus in October 2019. I have to be honest; I was hesitant to approach him. When you know his story, what led him to be blind, and then how he was treated afterward, it is overwhelming. You have to approach this dog and treat him the same way you would treat a healthy, bouncy puppy. This is hard as the only thought that circulates around your mind is, “why would anyone do this to a dog?”
However, regardless of how I felt, the work had to be done. I had to take pictures and videos of him to give him that chance for life, no matter how insignificant that chance seemed at the moment.
As I approached his enclosure, I could see he recognized me. Last time he heard my voice was in March 2019. I was flattered to be remembered. This moment was followed by a few amazing days I spent around and with this dog. This was one of those life experiences that stays fresh in your memory even decades later. The intense, emotional, positive, inspiring this dog is definitely one and only.
In the SDR sanctuary, Henry’s day starts around 8 AM, when he is let out of his enclosure to roam in the big yard. All the dogs are put away, as we do not want anyone bumping into him by accident and scaring him. He walks around, sniffing with a lot of interest all the new “messages” that the dogs left for him. Once he is done with his sniffing work, it is time to have cuddles with his caregiver =)
I never had experience with large blind dogs and I have bad knees, so I prefer to sit down for cuddles. Well, that was a mistake. In his excitement Henry just knocked me down on the ground, flat. It happened so that the camera was still working and filmed “my moment of glory”, which I am happy to share it because I do find it so funny.
After the walk is over, Henry gets a little playtime. He enjoys to play tug of war with his caregiver, but he doesn’t play with volunteers. He is too happy and too excited when new people come in. Henry seems to prefer the company of people over hanging out with other dogs. We think partially this is because he cannot see the body signals the dogs send, so he does not understand how to communicate with them.
4 pm is feeding time. Even if you are one minute late, Henry will remind you with his soft deep bark. This is feeding time and you have no right to be late
Henry orients himself very well in his enclosure and knows the location of his bed, water bucket, and the door. The food bowl is always placed in the same spot: right in front of him after he sits down.
If there is a change in the environment, like a chair in a different place, he has to be warned to not bump into it.
Being with Henry for a couple of days, getting to know his personality made him look like the most beautiful dog ever walked this planet. His blindness may put a lot of people off even considering adopting him, but if we give ourselves a chance to look beyond this, we surely are going to be impressed and inspired by his strength and most of all thirst for human companionship.
My journey to Sled Dog Rescue Sanctuary ended and with a heavy heart I had to leave my new friend behind and fly back home, to The Netherlands. Before I left I did, however, promise Henry that I will do my best along with the rest of the volunteers to make sure he soon finds his loving family.