An Audience With Sir Henri
When a Lawyer Rescued a Knight in Distress
When a Lawyer Rescued a Knight in Distress
Everyone visiting our offices is enamoured with our Chief of Staff, (the title on his business card) Sir Henri, our black Shar-Pei. He has become an integral member of our team and brings his own style of productivity to our workplace.
But life wasn’t always that easy for Sir Henri, here’s his inspirational story…
Sir Henri came into our lives in 2011, when my partner Kim and I were visiting the Royal Queensland show in Brisbane, the “Ekka”. An annual agricultural show, it brings the city and country together for a 10 day event and it brought us together with Sir Henri.
While wandering through the pavilions we came across the RSPCA Stand (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). While chatting to one of the volunteers, we mentioned that we would eventually like to adopt a rescue dog so she introduced us to Jennifer, who conducted a halfway house for rescued dogs. Her property was located on the way to our farm and she invited us to drop in whenever we were passing.
At that stage we had no intention of adopting a dog! Our living arrangements did not allow for the inclusion of a dog, nor did we think our busy lives would cater for a dog who would be left home-alone for our long work days.
Long story short we popped in to see Jennifer one weekend. She had about 14 dogs of various breeds, shapes, sizes, age and temperament and as you often hear people say and it was certainly true with us, it is not so much you choosing a dog rather the dog chooses you.
Now remember we had no intention of adopting a dog. In fact because of our living arrangements we simply could not. However, this little black Shar Pei would not leave us alone. Whilst we were having coffee with Jennifer, various dogs would come up, have a sniff and wag their tail before moving on to other interests. But not this little Shar Pei, who was about 18 months to two years old at that time. He just wouldn’t leave us alone and wouldn’t leave our side.
The owner then suggested that since we could not adopt a dog that we may be interested in fostering one on weekends. There did not seem any harm in that suggestion, after all we were not going to adopt him. We could not. We both worked 12 hour days and we could not have dogs where we were living and it just wasn’t sensible on so many levels, but fostering the poor little fella might not be a bad idea. At least it will give him some respite on weekends as he seemed to be the runt of the pack and was at the bottom of the pecking order.
We quickly developed a routine where every Friday night we would pick up Sir Henri (not his name at the time) and take him to our farm. There he would spend the weekend with us chasing cows, swimming in the dam, sunning himself in peace and tranquillity without being harassed by the other dogs. He loved it. Monday mornings we would pack-up and drop him back to the shelter on our way to work.
It seemed that Sir Henri quickly got into the routine and it wasn’t long before he would be waiting excitedly at the gate every Friday night as we pulled in, tail wagging profusely and jumping up and down with complete joy.
As soon as I opened the car door he would jump, claw and scramble his way into his seat, kissing both of us nonstop for the first 15 minutes of our meeting. I think it was his way of saying “thank you, I really missed you guys, thanks for coming to get me”.
However, it was a different story when dropping him off. I swear he knew what was happening on our return trips. He would lean through from the backseat kissing us both on the neck and face as if pleading for us not to take him back to the shelter. Once there he would not get out of the car. I had to literally drag him from his seat by the collar. There was no way that he was going to voluntarily leave us. As we would depart down the driveway I would look in the rear-view mirror to see this poor little fella forlornly standing in the driveway looking at us leave.
We continued this routine for about four months during which time we learnt more about our little foster mate. He had been rescued from a house where, during the middle of summer (when temperatures can reach 38 degrees) he was found tied to a clothesline in the backyard with no water, food or shelter. He was badly dehydrated and had obviously been there for several days. He had lost most of his hair and his raw skin was sunburnt. He had also been physically abused.
Rather than being overly aggressive as is normally the case with dogs treated this way, Sir Henri was very submissive and would cower when you reached out to pat him (probably expecting to be hit).
On one of our foster weekends the unthinkable happened. Poor Sir Henri was accidentally run over by our neighbour. We rushed him to the vet thinking the worst and also wondering how we were going to explain this to Jennifer at the shelter. Surely he will not survive this. After all he had endured in his short life it has to end like this. We were beside ourselves.
Remarkably, the vet said that with plenty of care and TLC he should pull through.
We could not leave him at the shelter in this condition as the other dogs would have bullied him relentlessly and he needed basically 24/7 care. So it was decided we would take him to work with us where he could sit in my office and be given his antibiotics and get plenty of rest.
It was agreed that we would look after him for two weeks before returning him to the shelter. That was six years ago. Needless to say Sir Henri never went back to the shelter. We actually moved house so that we could accommodate Henri in our lives and he has been a loving and much loved member of our family ever since.
How did “SIR HENRI” get his name? Well, that’s another story.
By John McLaughlin
Principal, McLaughlin & Associates Lawyers