A few years after Leslie Nahigyan adopted her dog Winnie, she felt like something was missing. So, she went to Adore-a-Bull rescue to adopt a new pup. At the end of February of this year, she found Henry and brought him home.
She fell in love instantly. But her heart began to break on March 5 when Henry suddenly became ill. He had trouble walking and seemed in severe pain. His veterinarian suspected encephalitis. Henry was only a few months old.
Leslie wrote on her Facebook:
This sweet boy stole my heart in just one week. It breaks my heart to go home without him tonight, but I know it’s best. Heal little man, heal.
Henry didn’t have encephalitis and he did not improve despite the numerous treatments doctors tried. His test results were all normal. Yet, the pup remained in extreme pain and could barely walk.
Eventually, doctors transferred Henry to the Ohio University Vet School in Columbus. At that point, they were now suspecting meningitis or a possible vaccine reaction.
The possible diagnosis changed again when Dr. Foss of Ohio State said that the pup had spinal epidural empyema. This means that he had pus in the cervical area of his spine. This could have been a rare reaction to his microchip. Despite the new diagnosis and treatment, Henry’s prognosis was not good.
Doctors opted for surgery, a laminectomy, after Henry failed to show improvement. By this time, the medical costs were over $10,000. Adore-a-Bull rescue was covering the costs.
Thankfully, the surgery did make a difference. Leslie wrote:
They got some thoracic limb movement from him today! He’s actively lifting his head and wagging his tail!
The surgery seemed like a success and by March 13, he was eating and drinking on his own and off of his pain medication. The news got even better – with lots of intense therapy, Henry would be able to walk again.
Henry had a lot of encouragement from his mom, his doctors at MetVet Columbus…. and he also had some help from delicious treats!
Of course, belly rubs helped make things easier!
But the surgery also revealed something devastating. Henry did not have pus in his spinal column – it was blood. Henry’s problems were caused by hemophilia.
Leslie doesn’t know Henry’s ultimate prognosis, as hemophilia is very unpredictable. Henry could have months or years left. But she does know that no matter what happens, she will be there for him.
And indeed, Henry will need her in more ways than most pups need their humans. It is inevitable that Henry will suffer another bleed due to his blood disorder.
It is also possible that he could bump himself and consequently bleed to death. His life will always be a precarious one, but it will be one full of happiness and love.
The woman who took the stunning photos of Henry and his family that you see in this article, Amanda Fultz, is also Leslie’s friend (and mine, btw). She posted some of these photos on Instagram and perfectly captured the moral of Henry and Leslie’s story in her caption:
It’s a beautiful thing to watch a person give all of herself, her love, to a dog who likely won’t live very long. Without reservation. Knowing the outcome doesn’t change the value of the journey.
That’s what everyone should take away from this story – Allowing yourself to fall completely in love with a dog – any dog, despite their health or length of life, will be one of the best and most important things you ever do.