A CDR Foster Story: Henry the Great Pyrenees

Henry recently joined the City Dogs Rescue family from Pickens County, SC. Pickens County, SC is a shelter that doesn’t do public adoptions so owner surrenders face almost certain euthanasia. CDR Shelter Volunteers Pamela Nalley and Tiffany Moore informed our Pickens Shelter to Rescue team that two Great Pyrenees dogs found themselves at risk in the shelter.

Henry’s Shelter Photo

CDR Foster Henry and his sister Abby (recently adopted) lived in an outdoor pen for at least two years. Initial experiences like getting him into the car, into the kennel, leash walking, crating, and bathing were all a nightmare for Pam and Tiffany. After separation from his sister Abby, both of them gained independence right away and made significant progress in just a matter of days. After two days, he loved being inside. He learned to walk on the leash and enjoyed the exploration. After one week, he started doing much better in the crate. Pam learned quickly that he needs a second dog in his life because he needs leadership. A dog who has lived as a dog and not penned outside can teach Henry how to be a dog. It may sound strange but many of the dogs we get at CDR have been conditioned out of what it means to be a dog. They don’t know what a family is or a regular meal or a toy. For dogs like Henry, the newness of being an indoor dog can cause anxiety. One of the most important things we’ve found with these cases is the significance of routine.

One thing that makes Henry’s case a little tougher is his size. Pam said it wouldn’t be as big a challenge if he was only 15 lbs. Luckily, Henry is a “big fluff love” who “loves other dogs, cats, and especially people.” Abby has done well in her new home so our foster mom Leslie wanted to provide an update on Henry for those following along to their stories. Special thanks also to first foster mom Stacey Fischer.

Guest Blog by CDR Foster Leslie Forte

An update for those of you following along at home – the story of Henry, the gorgeous Pyrenees.  Henry came to us several weeks ago when his loving foster, Stacey Kenah Fisher, was going out of town. “He’s super easy and house-trained!” she said – my two favorite words when deciding to take in a new foster. He had done well at Stacey’s house but was clearly an anxious dog. When we put him in my minivan to drive home, he quickly started looking for ways out of the car, hurling his 85 lb body against the windows while I was on the highway. THAT was fun! 

When we got him home he was a bundle of nerves, panting and pacing back and forth. He proceeded to throw his body against every (first floor) window and glass door that we had, even trying to escape through our wall-mounted TV which probably seemed like a window to him. He pulled several set of curtains out of the wall while trying to escape. For 24 hours, he did not sit or lay down at all, just paced and whined and panted. I think with all the stress of leaving his farm, changing foster homes, riding in transport and being separated from his sister Abby (fostered by Christi Oakley) that something just snapped in him and he couldn’t take it anymore.

He HATED the crate and had escaped it while on transport up to DC, so that wasn’t an option for us. At one point I leashed him and tied it to my waist so I could try and get some sleep on the couch without him crashing out of the house through one of the windows. 5 min later he had chewed through the leash. I mean I know some boys don’t like to be tied down, but seriously! If we left him alone for any period of time he would trash the place – rugs, kids toys that he took down from high shelves, clothing, purses, etc. He also would not eat a damn thing that we actually wanted him to eat. I didn’t know what to do – we’ve had a lot of fosters, but never one like this boy.

Henry at an adoption event
Henry at an adoption event

The crew at CDR was AMAZING, Kate Viar, Janine Castorina, Meredith Raimondi and the extraordinary Pamela Nalley were all so helpful and responsive with everything and offered to get a trainer out right away to have him assessed. So we rearranged our schedules and made sure someone was always home with him. 

 After a full day he did finally lay down and rest some. And slowly things got better bit by bit every day. We started to see this beautiful soul blossom and come out of his shell. He stopped panting, stopped pacing and leaned in for our love and affection instead of trying to run from us. He started eating after I began cooking for him and eventually allowed us to transition him back to just dry dog food. He stopped trying to push open the front door and just hung out in the front yard the two times he figured out how to unlatch the front door and knock it down. He just finally felt safe I guess.

This week our nanny is out of town so we had been working on leaving him for extended periods of time. We hired a dogwalker to come in during the day but so far, he has been 100% A-OK alone finally, 5-6 hours at a time. No destruction or “presents”! He has become THE BEST dog – so sweet, so gentle and tolerant with the kids (even with a baby crawling on him and trying to eat his tail), gets along great with our other black labs, ignores other dogs on walks completely….I could go on and on. Just overall awesome! 

I so wish I could keep him but I don’t think we can do 3 very large dogs full time with 4 kids, too! Anyone who adopts this boy will be soooo lucky! Henry is our sweet sweet gentle giant! Anyway, wanted to share since a lot of folks have asked me for an update on Henry. Thanks for all the support we’ve received with him!

Leslie’s Kindergartener considers Foster Dog Henry a part of the family.

Kate Viar, CDR Shelter to Rescue Volunteer for Pickens, says of Leslie Forte, “I consider myself a very experienced foster, and I’m not sure I would have been able to weather what [Leslie] did with Henry…but I am so grateful that [she] did and came through the other end being able to appreciate Henry’s finer qualities.” 

Kate Viar, CDR Shelter to Rescue Volunteer for Pickens, explains Henry’s background:

This dog never lived indoors before he was in the shelter. He never saw a TV before, which explains his confusion and hope that it presented an escape route. He never knew love until he met Pamela Nalley, Tiffany Moore, Stacey Kenah Fisher and Leslie Forte. He needed patience and understanding, but I know it was not an easy road for any of [them]. And with each transition, his anxiety grew…. It was a lot for any dog to go through in the span of a few weeks, but especially for a dog as sensitive as Henry. Henry has received multiple applications, but we know it will take a very special family to help him through another transition and continue his progress. We don’t want to set him or his adoptive family up to fail, so we need to make sure he is placed in the best home for his needs and personality. We are so thankful to [Leslie] for fostering him and making him a part of [her] family.

Here is Henry’s adoption profile:

Dog Name: Henry
Suspected Breed(s): Great Pyrenees Mix
Gender: Male
Age: 2 years old
Weight: 84 lbs
Observations with Dogs: Good. Foster home has 2 large labs.
Observations with Cats: Good.
Observations with Kids: Good. Foster home has children aged 10 months, 5, 8 and 10 plus nanny’s 2 year old. 
House Training Progress: Occasional accidents.
Crate Training Progress: Not a fan and is an escape artist, but he has not been destructive in his foster home once past the transition period.
Location: Foster home in the DC area.
Personality: Gentle, Quiet, Easygoing, Friendly, Loyal, Snuggler, Affectionate, Patient, Calm, Shy, Eager to please, Smart
Rescued From: Pickens County, SC

Additional Information: Henry is such a love bug. He is so calm and mellow. He is regal looking and has such a lovely temperament. He and his sister Abby (already adopted) were surrendered to a high-kill shelter for failing to herd goats and pigs.  They lived outside and never knew love.  Now Henry soaks up every ounce of love that is showered on him!

He is good with kids, not rambunctious, loves to snuggle and get attention, doesn’t jump all over you and is just generally an easy dog to have around. He rarely barks.

Henry has difficulty dealing with transitions, so his new forever family will need to plan for an adjustment period of one to two weeks when he will be extremely anxious. Working with a trainer to help him through this transition will be a condition of his adoption.  He also needs to go to a home with another dog, which can help ease his anxiety and build his confidence.  He has settled into his foster home and is doing well, but change stresses him out.

He also needs a family who won’t leave him for long periods of time initially, as he is anxious when his humans leave him.  Again, a trainer can help with this.

Henry is a wonderful, affectionate dog who is well worth the investment!!!

If you are interested in meeting Henry, please fill out an application!