A blog about my life with dogs.......

Friday, November 18, 2011

This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquairius!

(Left to Right) Foster, Me, Ginger, Bugsy and Harry.

Sorry for the song in the head inducing blog title but I couldn't help it.
This blog is dedicated to all things Harry Dawg.
This picture was taken on the farm our first winter in Iowa together.
I adopted Harry from the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society on September 10th of 2007.  Harry was described as being a black and rust  Rottweiler/German Shepard mix breed who was guessed at 7 years old. Volunteers at the shelter wrote this note on his kennel "He is a very sweet dog. He loves people and is very nice to walk. He has a happy personality and is at a very nice age. He would make a great companion. He seems to be housebroken!" There was also another much longer letter attached to his kennel from his foster home describing him and the treatment he had undergone. Harry had been found stray in St.Paul Minnesota and been diagnosed with kennel cough, roundworm, tapeworm and heartworm. Harry had been in a St.Paul shelter, an animal hospital, a foster home, then the Golden Valley Shelter. His name was listed as "Aquarius" and beneath the typed name was a handwritten note "Harry for short".

I walked up and down the kennels looking at the different dogs. I knew I didn't want a puppy. I was at the shelter with a purpose: rescue an adult dog who will accompany me during my move from the big city to the fields of  Eastern Iowa where the dog and I will have unrestricted access to acres and acres of farm land. I wanted to be a city dogs retirement plan.

 I don't remember Harry standing in his kennel wagging his tail at me. Trying to picture it breaks my heart. I do remember it was the end of the day at the shelter when we met and he was the last dog on my list of dogs to take out to the dog runs and get to know.  The shelter staff brought him by leash to the dog-run and let him loose, then she gave me a dog biscuit and left. Harry walked to the opposite end of the run and peed where another dog had just peed. I clapped my hands and called to him. He came over to me. I walked back and forth in the dog run and he followed me. I petted him and told him to sit. He sat. I gave him the biscuit. He was great. But how could I know for sure he was the right dog for me? A few moments later the shelter staff came back with the leash in her hand and leaned over the fence. "Well?" She said. "Is Harry going home?" I looked at her and then Harry and paused. "Well Harry," I looked down at him. "Do you want to come home with me?" Harry looked straight up into my eyes with his big dark ones. I swear, his eyes were pleading to me. I imagined him thinking "Home? Really?"
He got me. "YES!" I said to the volunteer.
2009 A Chunkier Harry!

When I was signing the adoption paperwork I gushed. Told all the staff about how Harry and I would be starting our new lives in Iowa in a few months time. Just think, a city dog, reborn to life in the country, free roam of the farm and the couch. Then a newscaster walked through the door with a camera crew. They were going to do a spotlight on a shelter dog and they asked for Aquarius. "Aquarius is coming home with me!" I said. So, he missed his big break! His chance at show business!
Oh well,. Looking back I feel lucky, if he had been on the news 24 hours before, maybe someone else would have adopted him. Where would I be then?

Harry , on the far right.
. Harry was potty trained from day 1 and only whined a little when I left him alone in the house. I tried locking him in a kennel, but he preferred the couch.  I took him to the best pet supply store I knew, Urbanimal. Where I was lucky enough to run into an old friend behind the counter. She congratulated me on my dog and gave us a huge, FREE bag of  Solid Gold Holistic Blend Dog food. We were elated. I bought an army green TUFF collar and a black nylon leash. (By the way, Harry wears that same collar to this day. He's not very tough on his collar, but it's the only collar he's ever worn! And it's still in great shape.) I bought a red and blue rope bone and a black and white bouncing ball. We took walks in the city parks and around the neighborhood. We had a little yard and when a city raccoon was tumbling in our trash can Harry took it on with the might of a grizzly bear

Harry never played with the ball, or the rope bone. I gave both of them away to other dog owners. Harry was content to sniff the neighborhood and snooze on the couch. Sure, he turned over the kitchen garbage can a few times, but he didn't bark unless there was a good reason, he ignored my two cats and he loved me. When we moved to Iowa Harry loved it. Harry immediately became a wonderful off leash dog. I never purposely trained him to come, or not pee in the house. I was one lucky lady.

Back in Minneapolis I had started adding a medallion or two of Nature's Variety raw to Harry's  meals when I found out that my friend behind the counter fed her dog raw. After I adopted Ginger and she struggled with skin allergies we started more and more down the path to raw and home-cooked doggy diets. By the time Bugsy had been with me for a year Kibble was few and far between. Comet has been raised, since 12 weeks old, on a raw foods diet (and some home-cooked stuff too). For all that I can tell, Harry is all the better for it.

Happy Harry, his face dirty from digging a hole on the muddy banks of my grandparents pond.
(Knock on wood!) Harry has had no major health problems. Since he has been with me he has had a few ear infections, he got worms a time or two from eating horse poop, and had an anal sac rupture and get infected(which caught me by surprise and was horrible, but easily treated. I was so worried about him I slept in the extra bed with him stroking his coat and tearing up) Harry has had some arthritis issues which we have gotten under control in the past 6 months with a combination of weight loss, supplements and exercise. Harry and I have a physical therapy routine I made up to help him build and keep his leg muscle strength. We walk up and down the slope of the ditch, and up and down a ramp-like slope in the back yard. His back legs are weaker than his front, but he is using those legs more now than at this time last year and we are determined to keep up the good work.


Harry doesn't go to the dog park. I have made the decision not to introduce Harry to new dogs unless I have lots of control of the situation. He gets grouchy with young stranger dogs easily.  If Harry throws down (hackles up, lip lift, tail up, growl, stare) Bugsy and Comet will back him up. So Harry roams the farm instead of the dog park. Because where Bugsy and Comet falter (over excited around the livestock and farm equipment) Harry shines.

Harry was well named. He sheds more than any dog I have ever met.
Harry enjoys sniffing a good breeze, rolling in dead things and eating horse poop when I'm not looking. He loves going into the farm house where my mother has a basket of biscuits on the floor for her grandogs. Harry still doesn't care for toys, but he adores chewing on raw bones. He likes car rides, dog treats and sleeping in the bed. Harry snores. If he farts, you had better leave the room and his eyes are black, even cloudy looking, not like they used to be. Often when people meet Harry they look at his eyes and ask me if he's blind. He isn't and the vet says it's nothing to worry about. "Just part of getting older" He said.

When I moved back home to Iowa there were many days when it felt like Harry was all I had. He is always here for me. And I am here for him.
I am proud to be Harry's retirement plan.

The tag on his collar reads "Harry Dawg"

1 comment:

  1. In an earlier post I recommended Lupine collars and said all my dogs use them. Then in this post I said that Harry wears a TUFF collar and has had the same one since day 1 with me. Well, both is true. Harry has always had his TUFF collar but he has a Lupine Harness and leash. Bugsy and Comet each have a Lupine collar, harness and leash.