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April 2, 2015 / angelavbolton

Henry – The Most Wonderful Dog in the World

Henry with my good friend Paula Fagan in the front garden in Mackintosh Park

Henry with my good friend Paula Fagan in the front garden in Mackintosh Park

Henry Fealy was a mix of Pomeranian and something else, but whatever it was, he looked like a small black fox. He didn’t have the protruding eyes of full-breed Poms, or the dense undercoat: his coat was silky and his paws had a wee tuft of hair at the front, for all the world like a Pasha’s shoes.

Bob said Henry was the only dog he ever met that would meet your gaze and look right back at you, which he did, though it wasn’t aggressive, just curious.

The first time I saw him, I was smitten. My mother’s friend’s dog in Monaghan had a litter of pups and he was the only one left. My mum said if I wanted to have him, she’d buy him for me. When she opened the door and I saw him sitting on the couch, so small (still a pup) but looking exactly as he did fully-grown, I knew he was my dog.

In the car on the way home he sat quietly between us, and mum was mulling over names for him – ‘Sooty’ was one particular terrible option she mentioned – but he was such a dignified unfussy little dog I insisted his name was ‘Henry’, and he looked at me. Yes.

This was abbreviated to ‘Henners’ later, but only by me – no-one else called him that. All I’d have to do is wink at him from across the room and he’d jump into my lap. He had his own bed in a downstairs room, but I’d leave his door open, and my bedroom door open, and eventually just say his name, and there he’d be. He’d often try to push me out of bed with his little pointy paws, and then try to look innocent. I mean, the size of it!

On a walk one day, a little gurrier said something like if he saw Henry out on his own, he’d kill him. I caught him by the back of his jacket – he was on a bike – and told him if anything ever happened to my dog, whether it was him or not, I would find him and put him down – inhumanely. Don’t think he expected such a passionate reaction…

When I met Bob and brought him home to ‘meet the family’, it never occurred to me that Henry’s nose might be put out of joint. It wasn’t. He came over and put one paw on our clasped hands, looked at us, and I felt his paw tremble – like: is this okay? I winked at him and he jumped up to sit across both of us, Bob scratching his back gently, and I knew Henry loved him too.

Bathing Henry wasn’t a problem, even though he didn’t like it much. He’d stand shaking in the bath – the bulk of his hair flattened and his skinny frame outlined – but I never let him get cold and his floaty coat shone magnificently afterwards.

Although I’m a bit of a sentimentalist, I didn’t ‘baby’ Henry, and he had no bad habits in the way of being neurotic and nervy – he was an elegant fellow. Once he got fleas (we had a cat too, called Serpico – think they got in that way) so wore a flea collar, which happened to be white. He looked like a vicar for a while, with his dignified deportment and serene demeanour.

He got lost once, or vanished into Clonkeen Road and Hillview, eventually turning up looking dishevelled and rather worn out. Guess he found a girlfriend. He was a frisky little chap, and used to sneak up on people’s moving feet until they were scratching not his chest but his nether regions. We were on to him but my Auntie Margaret didn’t know, so when she’d visit I’d lift the tablecloth and shoo him away. Little beast.

Henry lived for about eleven years, the last few with my mother as I was away in Ibiza and London. I never got to say goodbye. Every time I see a photo of him I remember what a unique intelligent creature he was – there will never be another.

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