~2 years old. Good with older considerate children, large dogs and cats. Not good with small dogs.
Someone once said that Henri had been put on this earth to do special things. What things, we are not exactly sure - but there is no doubt that she has a purpose here, as by all accounts, she shouldn't have survived past 6 months of age. You see, Henri was born with a condition called patent ductus arteriosis - a congenital heart defect that causes heart failure and death early in puppyhood. However, not only did Henri survive to 1.5 yrs (when she was rescued) but she did so in conditions that we can only imagine were far from ideal. To say Henri is one strong cookie - and determined - is a massive understatement! But let me start at the beginning of our journey with Henri.
Henri was picked up as a stray in a small community in the very north east corner of NC. She was held at the shelter a fairly long time before we were able to bring her into the rescue and knowing what I know of Henri now, I can easily understand why. Like I said, Henri was sent here for a special purpose, and if you spend any time at all with her, you get that sense and can't help but fall in love with her. Almost immediately after getting Henri into foster care 2 things were apparent: 1). she was thin to the point of almost being skeletal and 2). she had a very serious heart problem, a grade IV-V heart murmur. Initially we were told that her poor condition and her heart murmur signified that Henri wouldn't survive much longer. All we could think was thank God she had made it to rescue so that she could at least live out her days knowing love, comfort and the sense of being part of a family. So we took Henri in, knowing it would be for only a short time, and we loved her and waited...and waited...and waited. After watching her run laps around our other dogs, walk for miles on end, never stop playing or hunting down those pesky squirrels in the back yard we suspected that we didn't quite have Henri's diagnosis correct. So off to NC State Vet School we went.
After meeting Henri, getting her history and listening to her heart (that truly sounded like a percussion orchestra all out of whack!) the cardiologists were absolutely dumbfounded that Henri was still with us at now 2 yrs old AND that she showed no signs of heart failure. They performed an echocardiogram on her heart which revealed the diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosis - of PDA for short. This condition certainly explained her heart murmur, but it didn't explain why Henri was still so healthy (she had, by this point, gained 12 lbs of pure, lean muscle). But the BEST part of this diagnosis was when the cardiologist told us that PDA could be easily fixed and would allow Henri to go on chasing squirrels and rounding up the other dogs for many years to come. Henri was in and out of surgery in a day, and was walking 2 miles with no problem just 3 days after having her PDA corrected. Like I said, Henri is a special girl!
So now we start the somewhat daunting task of finding this amazing dog a home. Honestly, we didn't think we would get to this point originally, and so coming up with a biography that adequately portrays this dog is actually quite difficult. How do you put into words the incredible spirit and energy that makes up our Henri? She's honestly unlike any other dog I have known, and trust me, I have known quite a few! Some of the words that come to mind when I think about Henri are: independent, unique, loving, persistent, kind, hilarious, stubborn, and yeah, energetic! Henri is most certainly her own dog - she marches to the beat of her own drum (or weird heart beat perhaps!) yet she loves with absolute abandon. She'll be off doing her own thing, or rough housing with the other dogs and then, all of a sudden, she will be up on her hind legs giving you a hug and insisting on kissing you all over your face. And there's no point in trying to tell her that this is not how well-behaved GSDs act, if she wants to kiss you, then kiss you she shall! Which is an experience in itself actually. Henri has a shockingly bad overbite (we have, on occasion, referred to her as "Alf" because of her side profile), which just adds to her charm, but when she tries to kiss, it comes out more like a bite - painful, but oh so sweet.
Henri does great with all the other dogs in our home (different breeds, different genders, different ages) but we have noticed that she seems a little too interested in really small breed dogs. She has lived with cats and was mighty curious about them also, but she was easily reminded of her manners when she got a little too intense. Henri is, without doubt though, an alpha female. She has shown her prowess at getting dogs much larger than her to submit, so if she was to live with another dog, it would have to be a male. I think though, that Henri could be just as happy as an only dog - as long as she had plenty of human companionship. As independent as Henri acts, she definitely bonds like superglue to her pack - whether they be human, canine or feline. Henri would also love an active home. Now that she has gotten used to riding in the car (she was prone to car sickness originally) she loves to cruise. She also loves going for walks and is extremely well-mannered on leash. Actually, Henri has the knowledge of how to be well-mannered in all settings. Henri and I went through 6 week obedience class and she mastered everything perfectly. Mind you, just because she knows it, doesn't mean she will do it. I can honestly say that Henri is not a girl who believes in this whole "GSDs love to please their humans" mantra. Now if there is food involved, or if she senses that you really and truly mean business, she will oblige, but she's just as likely to turn around and keep doing whatever she was doing before you interrupted her with a command. That's just Henri. And right on cue, as I finished that sentence, Henri decided that it was time to give me a kiss and so attempted to climb into my lap, on an office chair, and bathe my face with licks and some teeth scrapes. The more I tried to the resist this spontaneous love-fest, the more she insisted it was going to happen. Did I mention that this dog is special???
If you are still reading after all this time then you have the potential to be a great match for Henri. Although she doesn't have classic GSD looks, or even classic GSD traits, there is something about her that will captivate your heart. Henri is the kind of dog that life memories are made from. She's the kind of dog that you look back on, long after they have gone, and burst out laughing as you remember her goofy, toothy grin, or her stubborn insistence that any time is a good time for a full body hug. Anyone who gets to know her agrees - Henri is a very special girl.