Sir Henry Micheal Burns arrived at Bob’s House for Dogs on Feb. 8, 2020, after his late owner’s roommate surrendered him to the Eau Claire County Humane Association. The roommate thought Henry was maybe 3 years old; the vets guessed he was 10, so his age remains a mystery.
Unfortunately, the pint-sized pooch had a considerable list of troubles, including seizures; a soft spot on his head, which is quite large; a massive overbite, which creates breathing and congestion problems; a heart murmur; and luxating patellas, which are not uncommon for the breed. (He is a Chihuahua.) Henry also was not neutered, and because only one testicle had descended, neutering was more involved. Like many of the dogs that come to Bob’s House, Henry had dental issues that needed to be addressed. You could say Henry was a hot mess! We were able to work with a local veterinarian and get his mouth addressed. Then came his neuter two months later. He was a rock star under anesthesia.
Despite his plethora of medical issues, Bob’s House staff figured he’d be a natural for the Canine Company program, where volunteers and Bob’s House dogs visit area nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Henry loves a lap. It’s a Chihuahua thing. But then COVID-19 came, meaning no visits and soon no volunteers at the house. Henry became a bit withdrawn. Yet, he was tight with me. Even Nikki Heck, Bob’s House adoption coordinator, noticed his excitement when I came in the house. Henry quickly became my pal and would help in the office – perched on my lap of course. He also enjoyed running errands with me, and on occasion, when I had to run home to let my pups out for a potty break, he came to my house to help. Our mastiff, Lola, and Lab, Qora, looked at him like “What are you? A squeaker toy that walks, that smells like a dog?” My girls sniffed him and carried on with their business, and I just laughed at the motley crew.
Months after his arrival, Henry started getting fussy at Bob’s House with meals and medications, and he just seemed so sad. We attributed that to the lack of Canine Company visits and volunteers at the house. Over the next few months, we had seen a seizure or two and thought some of his vocalizing was seizure-like, so we added more meds to his regimen. “Oh, great,” we thought. It was already hard to medicate him, and now we were giving him more medicine. Things were not going well, and Henry was not enjoying life.
Near the end of August, Henry came home with me for a night. I was on call for work, and he was not eating well, so I thought I’d see how he does in a home. Bob’s is an amazing place for dogs to live, but on occasion, it can be a stressful place for some. Henry did well at my house. He enjoyed the campfire and my two dogs. He mostly just wanted to nap in the sun and rest, so he spent Saturday and Sunday with us. Back to Bob’s on Monday, and he seemed to be recharged, was eating and doing better. Amy Quella, Bob’s executive director, Nik and I talked about placing Henry in a foster home or possibly putting him up for adoption. Knowing his health problems and all his medications, we knew this was going to be a challenge.
September became a whirlwind. My grandmother passed away, and my dad needed emergency surgery. If that wasn’t enough stress, my husband, Duane, and I had a small three-day weekend of motorcycling planned, which was truly needed. On a Saturday, we were packing up the bikes, and my phone beeped. I looked at it and just began to cry again. My husband looked at me like, “Now what?” He thought this trip was a great emotional getaway, and it seemed I had gained some composure over the loss of Gram. He was so confused until I blurted out, “Oh my! They are going to have to put Henry down.” “What? The little dog you just had at the house,” Duane asked. I was just a mess. I called work and asked them to wait. I would be home that afternoon and wanted to see Henry. Before we headed out, I called my daughter and asked her to go get Henry as we would be home in a few hours.
When we got home, Henry greeted us like a mad man with the other dogs. Duane looked at me and said, “What is wrong with him?” “Um, not sure,” I responded. Henry was his normal “I’m going to kiss your face off boy!” That night. he ate like a monster and slept for eight to nine hours without a peep. Needless to say, I canceled his appointment for euthanasia. And as a family, we decided to try Henry as a foster with the idea that if the correct home came up, he would go. Little did we know the correct home was our home.
Henry has thrived in a home environment. Maybe it’s the structured daily routines, the feeling of having his own home or just us. Never in my life did I think I would have a Chihuahua. I have owned mastiffs for 25 years. I love my big breeds, and now a 5-pound dog runs our house and needs to wear his pants (a belly band) as my hubby says. There’s no doubt that Henry quickly weaseled his way into our hearts. He especially loves my husband, and I am chopped liver when Duane is around. I just laugh at the sight of my big burly biker husband and the little dog he carries on walks in a pup backpack. Henry is no dummy; he knew who to bond with. So, Henry and the Mullers have become foster failures, but sometimes in life we do not choose things, they choose us. Sir Henry Micheal Burns is just one of those things.
Heather Muller, Bob’s House for Dogs Medical Coordinator