Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Henry, the Hero
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friend.
Henry, a cat with a gentle soul and loving disposition, has been a part of granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, life since she was just a toddler. To her, he's not just a pet, he's family. And although her mom and dad have always known Henry is a special cat, they discover recently, not in a way they would wish, just how special he is.
John, my son-in-law, routinely takes Virginia and her sisters, Savannah and Alexandra, to a playground at their apartment complex. Henry, as is his custom, follows faithfully after them, though John doesn't notice it at the time on this particular day. When they reach the gate, there are no other children playing there, but John sees a young man sitting on a bench some distance away. He has his pit bull with him.
Apprehensive about this unexpected presence, John hails the man. "Hey, there! Is your dog friendly? I've brought my girls here to play."
The man looks up from his phone, where he has been busy texting. "Yeah, he's friendly. Loves kids. It's fine to bring them in."
John is still unsure of the situation, but Virginia's pleading has him throwing caution to the wind. He opens the gate, holding Savannah in one arm and Alexandra in the other, as Virginia darts through, making a beeline for the swing set.
That's the only provocation this dog needs. He flies toward Virginia, barking furiously. In a flash, he's right on her, snapping at the back of her neck. Terrified, Virginia screams and starts to run toward her father. "Don't run, baby, don't run!" John cries out in a panic as he hurries toward her as fast as he can. "Cover your neck with your hands!"
Then it happens! An orange and white bullet leaps out of nowhere, sinking his claws firmly into the dog's back, and hissing with rage. Henry! The dog yelps in pain, trying desperately to unseat his unwelcome passenger. The distraction allows John to reach Virginia, and get her to safety along with her two sisters. Once outside the playground's confines, John turns around, expecting the worst. After all, Henry has tackled a predator ten times his size!
He looks just in time to see the dog finally dislodge Henry from his back, but not before the cat inflicts a final blow. As he's sailing off the dog's back, Henry manages to dig his claws into the dog's face, nearly gouging out his right eye, before he lands on all fours and dashes toward John and the girls.
At this point, the negligent owner runs over to finally take control of his animal, but not before John gives him a scathing earful. Not that I approve of such language, nor am I thrilled Virginia is standing there to hear it, but I can certainly understand a father's fury and frustration about what has just transpired.
Sadly, the owner doesn't offer an apology. He simply hooks on the leash and leads the wounded dog away as quickly as he can, while John hastily ushers the girls back to their apartment.
"Where's Henry, Daddy?" Virginia asks in alarm. "Where did he go? Did that mean dog hurt him?"
"I hope not," John says. "Henry probably ran all the way to the apartment and is there waiting for us."
Tears well up in Virginia's eyes. "That dog was so huge. He could have killed Henry."
"And I think Henry knew that, baby, but he risked his life anyway to save you. He loves you that much."
"And I love him, Daddy. Henry is my hero!"
"Mine, too, Virginia, mine, too."
Just so none of you worry, Henry came through this ordeal with only a few nicks. He didn't even have to go to the vet! He is both our angel and our hero!
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