To the Manor Born

A Guest Post by Henry

As I write this, I am being held captive in a condo, somewhere in California. Of all places. Do not ask me how I came to be here, as I cannot recall. I was but a wee one when I arrived. Though, I dare say, I have frightful memories of the automobile ride here.

It was a terrifying experience. I’m pretty certain that I was blindfolded. Either that, or I was too bewildered to open my eyes. Indeed, I was shaking like a leaf, having never been in a vehicle before. So nervous was I, that I pooped in my trousers twice. Though, at the time, I wasn’t wearing any.

I am Henry, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, descended from royalty, and to the manor born. ‘Twas on a sunny day in spring that my life began. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and sycamore trees swished gently in the breeze. For the first few weeks, all was well with the world. Then, quite suddenly, I was plucked from my mother’s bosom and taken from the only home I’d ever known. A tragedy, I know. I was eight weeks old and barely a lad.

I cannot fathom why this happened, but I imagine it was a cruel joke, along the lines of The Prince and the Pauper. I, of course, being the prince. And now, here I am, trying to make the most of my pauper life, finding out how the other half live–and let me tell you, it’s quite ghastly at times.

Maybe someday I will be able to return to take my rightful place on the throne. On the queen’s lap, of course (though they tell me I’m rather big for a Cavalier and would not be able to fit on her lap). Until then, I shall muddle through in this modest, cluttered home.  I suppose I could do much worse. I try everyday to make the most of things, living with my people. After all, noblesse oblige.

I live with three people. First and foremost, there’s Cook. She prepares all my meals, though I’m peeved that she never checks to see if my food has been poisoned.  Those of noble blood cannot be too careful, you know, which is why I am forced to check my food myself. Each time I devour it, I am sure I am going to croak. But so far, that hasn’t happened.

Cook has a blog, one that is all tangled. I don’t know why she calls it that. I’m hoping one day to have a blog of my own, so I can regale you with stories of my adventures here, including my vain attempts to get the attention of my humans, which isn’t easy when they are watching the telly.

Also, living here is my Lady-in-Waiting. This is humiliating, because kings should not have Ladies-in-Waiting! But I come from a strong ilk, so I take such slights on the chin. In any case, my Lady-in-Waiting is seldom here. She leaves periodically for school, or something to that effect, and stays there for months at a time. I never know when she is going to leave or when she will return. As a captive, I am most often kept in the dark.

Then there is my valet. A strapping, young gentleman, who Cook calls son. I am pleased to say, my valet is kind enough to see to my needs, as I have many. He feeds me on occasion—when Cook has the day off—and escorts me to the park, protecting me from the legions of unruly dogs that want to sniff my backside. It is, no doubt, their way of paying their respects to me.

I rather enjoy taking my constitutional with my valet. For, unlike Cook, he often brings a tennis ball so that we can play fetch. Some might say I’m obsessed with tennis balls, but I’m just having a jolly, good time. Indeed, they are my passion. I can sniff out a tennis ball more than 20 feet away, and I fly off the handle when I do. The ball can be buried in the bushes, caked with soil and other dogs’ drool, yet I can always detect it. Cook has said, many a time, “If a tennis ball ever commits a murder, Henry will find it out.” And she is quite right!

That is all for now. I do hope Cook allows me to post again. Perhaps she will, with your encouragement. In the meantime, if you see my mum, please let her know that I miss her dearly, and that I will always wear the mantle of my royal heritage with pride.  Better yet, please send me a map so I can find my way home.

Until then, cheerio!

A Dog of a Trip

My dog, Henry, is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that doesn’t get out much. He spends most of his day slumming around the house, looking for a cozy place to nap. I, on the other hand, spend most of my days hard at work and wracked with guilt for leaving His Royal Highness alone all day.

Henry, my "backseat driver," doesn't like being relegated to the front seat.

Which is why, I decided to take him with me when I recently drove up to Ventura to help my son, Josh, move home. It was a three-hour trip each way, and while Henry’s been on car rides before, this was the longest by far. But, I figured, he enjoys car rides, so why not take him?  I brought along some treats, a water bowl and a blanket to help him get cozy in his usual spot in the backseat. I also tuned my satellite radio to a channel that played nice, soothing music that would lull him into a tranquil sleep. After all, Henry descends from royalty and expects to be treated like a king.

He slept soundly on the drive up. Not so much as a peep. When we arrived, he leapt from the car, refreshed. While Josh and I loaded the car with his belongings, Henry happily explored his surroundings. Of course, by the time we finished, I realized there was no longer any room for Henry in the backseat. Which meant he’d just have to sit on the passenger seat in front. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Turns out, Henry is completely used to being in the backseat. He’s in his zone. But the front seat is another matter. I’ve never seen a dog so nervous. It was as if he was overtaken by an anxiety attack, or going through OxyContin withdrawal. I tried calming him as best I could, to no avail.  Occasionally he’d lie down and close his eyes, but seconds later, he’d sit up again, trembling and panting.

So I drove like mad, convinced that the only solution was to get him home, and back on terra firma. My plan was to take him on a walk to the park, as I was sure he would feel better once he returned to his routine. But Henry had other ideas.

No sooner did we pull into the garage, that he walked right up to his dog bed, the one in the garage, and plopped down in a heap. Which is where he stayed for the next several hours. Not able to walk the 10 extra feet into the house, and not even interested in having his dinner. And forget about walking! In a word, he was pooped. Too pooped too pop. Hours later, I raised the garage door, thinking he’d jump up at the chance to go outside. No can do. The boy wouldn’t budge.

So I tried one last trick. The Ace up my sleeve that was guaranteed to get him to get up and go. The old reliable tennis ball. The one thing Henry could never resist! His one true obsession! I felt so clever for thinking of it.

But nothing. Henry looked up, barely gave the green ball a sniff, and lay his head back down on his bed. The ultimate test and it failed! I was the one driving for six hours, but this little king was the one who was the worse for wear. Now I felt guilty for forcing him to come along! How could I have been so cruel?

I decided to leave him be. Clearly, he needed his rest. Which is why I went around my business the rest of the evening and left him alone. And what happened next is one for the history books.

Just as I was finally ready to turn in for the night, Henry arose from his bed. With his tail wagging, his little legs carried him swiftly into the house. Whereupon, he assumed his usual position in the kitchen, signaling to me that he wanted his dinner. Stat. And by necessity, eating would be followed by a walk. Which is why, exhausted though I was from the long day of driving, I took him outside, into the cold, dark night and, as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I could swear I saw a little jaunt and an extra bounce in Henry’s walk. Ah, yes. The boy was back in town!