Many of you were lucky enough to have known Henley over the last 13 years, many of you have read about him here, many of you don't have an idea as to why I'm writing about him. After a devastatingly hard summer, his health faded fast and I had to make the call to "put him down" last Friday night. Over a week ago back in Fort Worth, I spent my my last few minutes with Henley, right before I loaded the car and left for a trip to Austin, he rested his handsome head in my hands and slowly closed his eyes while I continued to pet his ears and hug on him. Henley lived a great long life, at least every year after his first one.
Henley was a big goofy sweetheart black Labrador Retriever. He "found me" one day while visiting the Dallas SPCA along with my dear friend Liane. Among the numerous SPCA "big-dog" wire cages with loud rowdy dogs, Liane and I walked to the very last cage in the room that day and there sat this quiet and depressed looking black dog. He was not in good shape, scabs on his head, skiddish acting, underweight, all the elements of an abused dog. Liane looked at me and without saying a word, I knew this little guy needed me, needed a good home. Done. Henley's new life had begun.
Henley was instantly loved by all, often going to work with me in Dallas and San Francisco over the years. I'll always remember him waiting for me in my office in Dallas, I'd leave for a bit and upon my return down the long hallway, there he was - his head sticking out of my door looking for me, laying down, paws regally crossed in front of him. My first office in San Francisco was a group of outdoor cottages on Union Street with a garden. The "Beware of Loveable Lab" sign still hangs on the gate this very day. Henley was witness to the birth of my wine-career, hanging out at K&L Wine Merchants sleeping under desks and soaking up love from the owners and staff. Henley went everywhere I could take him.
Henley and I spent thousands of hours together taking long walks, Lakeside in Highland Park, Crissy Field under the Golden Gate Bridge, hiking The Presidio, snowshoeing in Sun Valley, trotting around any golf course we could sneak onto at dusk, summertime hiking Tahoe and playing in creeks in Alpine Meadows (clearly his favorite place on earth) and our last routine walks together were tucked away among the rolling hills above Lake Austin. In recent weeks, Henley eagerly awaited at the end of the day right by the front door inside my Mom's home for my dear stepfather Ben to take him on a long neighborhood walk. He loved being outdoors - only if he was accompanied by a friend.
I could write forever about Henley. He was my shadow, not a minute would pass at home that Henley wasn't right at my feet. Henley made a friend out of everyone. Henley was "the model dog" as my Mom would say. I want to thank everyone over the years who helped me with Henley, there was a lot of "got to let Henley out" days, keeping Henley company for weeks at a time while I traveled for work and of course the last few years of my life couldn't have happened without Kevin and Daniel of the Austin Dog Walker, and our rocks - Mom and Ben in Fort Worth.
Henley was an heavenly soul, greeted me every day with a crooked smile "are you smiling at me Henley?" and sang like Barry White anytime his ears were rubbed the right way. Henley knew just how to make the day seem better. My angel indeed. Thank you Henley for your time on earth, you taught me what compassion means, unconditional love - you touched so many lives.
Since Friday night after posting Henley's passing on Facebook, over 300 friends and family members have called and sent messages. He loved life with all his might and was so loved backed by all. I am so grateful for everyone's support and kind words, my heart is broken indeed, this year has been so incredibly tough, no question the year I need my friends the most.
Henley I promise to eat every pizza-crust in your honor for the rest of my life!! My sweet Henley. Cheers to the best dog ever, Ali.