Perfect Puppy Love: A Review of 'Surviving Henry'

This book is not about a perfect pet or a perfect pet parent. It's about a perfect love.

by - Posted on Oct 6, 2014

A new puppy fills a home with love, cuteness…and a certain amount of chaos. But in the case of new boxer pup Henry, Erin Taylor Young felt like she received more than her share of chaos. Pulling, tugging, barking, chasing, destroying…she wondered, “What did I ever do that God would send this dog to derail my life?”

It wasn’t for a lack of trying to tame Henry’s wild ways. Once, she strapped on a helmet, climbed onto her son’s electric scooter, and tied Henry’s leash to the handlebar, hoping the dog would trot happily along beside the scooter until he was blissfully exhausted. What happened instead was that Henry outran the scooter and dragged her across neighborhood lawns. She ended up leaping off the moving scooter and chasing it, dog attached, into the bushes.

Even obedience training yielded sporadic results, and controversial aversion methods such as the use of a shock collar left her feeling guilty, and Henry stressed.

“You don’t think he’s hopeless?” Erin asked the trainer

“Difficult. Not hopeless.” The trainer replied.

Erin was exhausted and discouraged. Wasn’t sharing your home with a puppy supposed to be fun, rewarding? Where was the bonding, the connection she so dearly wanted?

Not everyone in the family, however, shared her frustration. The kids prayed, “Dear Lord, Thank you for Henry. Please help him to be good.” This wasn’t exactly the prayer Erin was offering up. Although she questioned God’s better judgment, at the same time she felt a nudge to keep trying.

“Why, God, did we have to get a difficult dog? Some days I’d like

to haul him back to the breeder. Some days I think I might.

But then, there’s that niggle, that stay-the-course whisper…”

-Erin Taylor Young

And from that gentle whisper, gradually, an understanding developed. A relationship grew--one that took time, work, and patience. And, best of all, one that resulted in a strong bond. Erin realized that she couldn’t change Henry but she could accept him for the active, misbehaved, difficult, wonderful dog he was. Through Henry, Erin learned a special lesson about God’s love—as she says, “the kind of love God has for all of us flawed creatures.”

Surviving Henry is not a book about a perfect pet or a perfect pet parent. It is, however, a book about a perfect love.

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