Friday, December 26, 2014

Remembering Henry - A Dog Who Loved Everyone

Toward the end of the year, one of the greats of the canine kingdom passed on. We're talking about Henry, Pennsylvania State Senator Any Dinniman's beloved pooch.
Henry was an integral part of the West Chester scene and was really a celebrity of sorts throughout Chester County. But he never acted like a celebrity. He wasn't a prissy or fussy dog. He was a real dog-dog who loved life and made friends with everyone he met.
And few knew this better than the Senator and his family. And their story is deeply touching and instructive. So, here's how Senator Dinniman himself explained it all in a recent Facebook post:

Friends, it has been a tough couple days.
On Wednesday night our poodle, Henry, passed away. As many of you know, Henry was a constant source of companionship and joy for our family. More importantly, in my travels as state Senator he had become a figure in his own right throughout Chester County and southeastern Pennsylvania. He was more than a sidekick; He was my best friend.
When we first brought Henry home, almost a decade ago, we could have never imagined the immeasurable impact he would have on our lives and those of so many other dog lovers. With our grown daughter living away, at first we simply thought it would be nice to have a dog around the house, to lighten things up, to encourage us to get more exercise and to make us laugh. Having lived our entire married lives without a pet, we truly had no idea we were “dog people.” Henry changed that in a big way.
At first, Henry was shy. In fact, he was the shyest dog in the litter. That was part of the reason we brought him home. When I decided to run for state Senator in 2006, I decided I’d take him with me wherever I could. The demanding schedule of events proved to be a perfect opportunity to help socialize him. Before long, he learned to trot at a steady pace in parades and sit quietly during stump speeches. To this day, wherever I go more people seem to know his name than mine!
When I was working in Harrisburg or any of the many other places this job has taken me, Henry and my wife, Margo, became very close. He was a steadfast and loyal friend as we faced the joys and challenges of daily life. When our family experienced a health crisis, he always managed to bring a smile to our faces, and I have no doubt that his love was great therapy.
Sharing our lives with Henry showed me just how important dogs are to so many individuals and families. As a result, I became deeply involved in humane legislation, helping pass the Pennsylvania Dog Law, cracking down on puppy mills and banning barbaric and cruel methods of pet euthanasia. I continue to work to that end and to ensure that all animals are treated humanely, that we tighten the penalties on animal cruelty, and that we promote the therapeutic value of dogs in healing, learning and recovery.
The fact is we are only on the cusp of understanding all dogs have to offer. Every day science tells us more and more about their minds and their potential. Every day, dogs contribute to society by helping keep us safe, assisting those with disabilities and simply bringing comfort and solace to those in need.
In sharing your journey with a dog, you come to better realize your own humanity. These animals are a blessing, and we were truly blessed to have Henry in our lives.
Thank you for letting me share Henry’s story with you, and thank you for being a part of his life.

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