Along with our Red Dog we travel with my little Jack Russell Terrier (JRT). I adopted him in 2008 from a friend who had found him roaming the streets. They took him in and named him “Sweet Pea.” They learned fairly quickly that they were not equipped for such a busy little dog. They searched for his owners for a few months with no success. In a weak moment I told them if they really didn’t want him I’d take him in. I already had 2 dogs; adding this little dog to the mix livened things up–a lot. My vet, who ribs me for adopting wacky dogs looked him over and pronounced him sound. Then he said “are you nuts?” I know him well enough to recognize a rhetorical question. Ben and I were dating at the time, and when I told him about the little dog, he had the same opinion as my vet. “They are a stubborn, hyper breed and he will drive you crazy.” I can be stubborn as well, so Sweet Pea came home with me.
He was cute and crazy, and had a bad habit of peeing in his crate. I had a water bowl attached to the bars and he showed remarkable skill by peeing directly into the bowl. I performed regular port-a-john services for him. After a few days I knew he’d been mis-named. He was sweet and he certainly peed a lot, but Sweet Pea was not a good fit. One morning it came to me–Henry. Henry, a fitting name for an anarchist.
Henry and I went to obedience school where he demonstrated his superior jumping ability by leaping over all three class ring fences. He dug holes and buried anything he felt belonged to him. He had one direction of travel; straight forward from any starting point. That coupled with a tendency to bolt out the front door got me acquainted with neighbors several blocks away. One day he bolted between my brother in law’s legs and dashed straight for the street where he slammed headfirst into the door panel of a moving car. His timing was impeccable; any other trajectory would have put him under the wheels. He bounced off the car making the universal ear-splitting doggie cry of distress “yiii–yiii–yiiiii!”
The kids in the car looked grief-stricken, though it wasn’t their fault. I scooped him up in my arms and my sister bundled us in her Saab and took us to the vet. He was shaken up but uninjured. I was a mess, mentally and physically. In addition to being upset, Henry and covered me in urine and feces. My sister wasn’t too happy about us getting back into her car, but it was her husband who let him out after all.
The day Ben came to my house to meet Henry, that little dog decided that Ben was his Alpha and Omega. Ben fell under the spell of the little dog and they became inseparable. I may have been the one who rescued him, fed him and changed his damn pee bowl, but Ben was his true love.
All my dogs have several names, but Henry has amassed the most aliases of all my dogs. His are as follows: Hank, Sir Hankness, HankySpanky, HankyBanky. HankyDoodle and the one I use most, Little Dude. Ben also gave him a name: Pissant. He answers to them all, smart little guy that he is. He still pees on things, though he had gotten choosier these days. He likes to pee on Ben’s Crocs for some reason. It matters nothing to Ben, who loves his little Pissant unconditionally. When Ben isn’t around, he lavishes me with attention as if to make up for putting me second in this relationship.
My vet guessed Henry’s age to be about 5 or 6-ish when I got him. He is now 13 or 14-ish, and other than cataracts and some gray hair not much slows him down. He is Ben’s nap buddy, shotgun rider and food inspector.
According to Webster’s, pissant means an “insignificant or contemptible person or thing.” We’ll never know how Henry came to be lost or if his people grieved for him. Maybe they found the brown and white ball of fur and attitude too hard to handle. He certainly kept me on my toes all these years. He’s maddening, obstinate, hyper, obsessive and of course there is the pee thing. He shakes like a leaf when it storms; as I am writing this sentence a thunderstorm is grumbling in the distance. If we get a big thunderclap, one of us will scoop him up and hold him tightly. We’ve tried thunder shirts and things, but Henry craves the arms of his loved ones for comfort. When I hold him, he stops shaking. When Ben holds him, he falls asleep. That pretty much sums up our relationship. In our house, the word pissant has come to mean “an obstinate dog who thinks he is pretty significant.” We’d have to agree. I have to close now, as there has been a significant amount of thunder. I have a little dog to hold.