Special guest article submitted by Henri the Saint Bernard
To commemorate the second anniversary of Sojourner Center’s Pet Companion Shelter, the shelter’s first dog resident, Henri the Saint Bernard, shared the following note with his supporters.
I am Henri and I am a good boy, yes I am. I have a very nice house with a soft bed, a big bowl of food, and my momma even got me this very nice porcelain water bowl that fills up every time you pull the handle! Oh, my momma. She is the best and I love her. I even let her have her own room with her own bed in my house, just for taking such good care of me!
My momma is the most special human ever. She comes home smelling like other dogs every day but I forgive her because she gives me belly rubs and string cheese. When I have my momma I know that my belly will always be happy. Her hair smells like fruit.
A long time ago… Years ago? Hours ago? I don’t know, dogs can’t tell time… We used to live in a different house and I did not like it. Momma always looked sad. Momma said she loved me and she pet me. She would smile but she still smelled sad to me. Daddy was there and he said he loved her but he never even pet her. That’s silly. He always smelled like bear pee. What’s bear pee? Well, I don’t know why he liked it but he always drank pee from a can and the can said bear on it. B-E-E-R. Bear.
Bear pee must be very expensive because sometimes I didn’t get to eat for a while. I don’t think he loved me very much either. I don’t know why he didn’t love me! I had hundreds of little bug friends that loved me. They even had sleepovers in my fur. They loved me and they told me I was delicious but I did not like that. I really didn’t like it when they started getting on the other puppy. Momma has another puppy that has no fur and walks on two legs. He is ugly but he is my brother and I love him. Momma was very sad because she wished all of my bug friends would go away. I was getting pretty tired of them myself. All they did was take. I was very itchy and was accidentally giving myself haircuts with my mouth. I kept accidentally making myself bleed from scratching so hard and that made momma sad.
She didn’t tell me I was a bad boy but I knew I was a bad boy because she was always trying to clean my blood off of the walls and anything that I leaned on, and she cried. Daddy was always mad at her for crying. I was a bad boy. I made daddy mad at mommy. I was so tired. I was skinny, I was bald and dirty, and all I did was make momma cry. Sometimes I didn’t even do anything. She would just look at me and cry. I was a very bad boy. Bad Henri. One day when momma took me outside to go potty I decided to just sit down in the icy grass for a long time and tried to go to sleep forever. I thought that would make momma cry less. I must’ve done it wrong because she cried and cried and even tried to pick me up to take me inside. I weigh 135lbs now but back then I was 103lbs. Daddy just watched from the window and I didn’t want momma to hurt herself trying to carry me so I used every bit of strength to slowly walk back inside with momma.
I don’t understand why momma still loved me when I made her cry so much, but she did. One day she put me in the car next to the bald puppy in his carseat and asked me to be a very good boy. I was. I was a very good boy. I could see my big brother the cat in the front seat. Wow! Where are we going? We never go anywhere all together. Well, we weren’t all together. Daddy wasn’t there. Daddy had been mad at momma and gave hugs and kisses to the bald puppy but he didn’t get in the car with us. Daddy was crying a little bit and that made me sad but momma didn’t cry in the car and that made me happy. We were in the car a very long time, too. I didn’t have enough space but I was a very good boy. Momma told me so. I don’t know what a “mile” is but momma would tell me every day, “just 2500/2000/1500… more miles to go”. Momma is very good at driving, and counting.
Momma was so happy when she was driving so I was surprised when she started crying again later. She couldn’t find somewhere for all of us to sleep together. Sometimes it was because of me being too big and sometimes it was because my cat brother made people sneeze.. Sometimes both. Momma was on the phone with someone and she looked happy but scared. We got in the car again. A few hours later we arrived at a place called Sojourner Center. What is a Sojourner? I don’t know, but people sure liked us there! I was still pretty ugly but they pet me anyway.
We walked through a big gray gate (momma says it was purple but I don’t know what that means) and the inside was the best! Three yards for me to run in! I immediately peed all over the place because I liked it and it was mine. The lady there even said that I was the very first dog there. Yes! This place is definitely mine! There was a nice room with a couch and lots of toys for me to play with. We were in there for a little bit while momma signed some papers and then my cat brother went to another room and momma walked me into a small room with a glass door. There was food, water, and a bed for me. I was so hungry so I was happy to go in and eat. But then momma closed the door, kissed the glass, and walked away. Was she ever coming back?
She did! She came back! She came back several times a day to feed me, take me to the yard, play with me in the playroom, and sometimes she even took a nap with me in my little glass room. She and the bald puppy were sleeping in a different room and I was not allowed to go there. I missed her when she wasn’t around but I had other people that loved to play with me and best of all gave me lots of treats! They even took me to the vet to make sure I was healthy. I was 112lbs now and momma was so proud. I love my momma.
Momma looked different. I don’t know how she was able to chew on her head but I know she did because she had lots of hair missing before, and now it was back! Sometimes momma cried while she cuddled me but overall, momma smelled happy. Momma has the most beautiful smile, and I got to see it more and more. I was looking better and better every day, and so was she. Momma is my whole world.
One day momma didn’t come by all day. I was starting to worry but then she came by late at night. She looked so tired. We got in the car. We stepped into a strange apartment that I’d never seen before but smelled familiar. When momma turned on the lights I saw that all of our things were here. “Henri! We can be together now!” Momma was so happy! We didn’t have any furniture except for a mattress on the floor and a tv balanced on a crate. All four of us hung out on that mattress all day. It was the best.
Momma used to spend all day at home with me ever since she and daddy brought me home years ago. I didn’t understand why she started leaving me alone every morning and coming back much later. Daddy used to do that. But daddy smelled like bear pee and momma smelled like dogs… Lots of dogs. What is going on here? One morning on my birthday she put a nice vest on me and we got in the car. We were at Sojourner Center. Why? I was grateful for our time there but I really preferred our apartment. Something was different, though. Momma was very happy. I didnt go into a little glass room. I spent the day with momma in her office. She said she worked there now. I am so proud of momma.
I still didn’t understand why she took me with her until I saw a paper on the wall with my picture on it. “Pet therapy with Henri”, it said. That’s the silliest thing I’ve heard! I didn’t give therapy! A bunch of people took turns petting me, brushing me, and giving me treats! Humans are so silly. They all looked so happy even though I was the one getting all the love and treats.
Momma says I’m a good boy.
Yes I am.