This is the extraordinary story of Sian and her pup, Henry. Sian's mother, Clara, first told us the story of how Sian (who was travelling the US in her car) suddenly felt really hungry and stopped on the side of the road in the middle of the desert [at midnight] to have something to eat. It was a serendipitous moment for three small, abandoned puppies—with a fascinating end twist.
Sian, tell us about that moment when you first laid eyes on Henry.
I was actually approached by her brother first. I had pulled over on the side of the road on an unlit highway out in the middle of the desert in Arizona when this puppy approached me. I thought it was a skunk – it scared me! When I realised it was a puppy, I thought, ‘what on earth is a puppy doing out here in the middle of nowhere?’ I grabbed him and he was super friendly. It wasn’t until I’d put him in the car that I heard crying and noticed Henry and her sister huddled up under my wheel.
I couldn’t believe these puppies had just been left out there in the middle of nowhere, I think they were about eight weeks old. My first reaction was definitely shock! I was trying not to handle them too much, but as soon as I found them, they all got names: Reginald, Henry and Margaret. Good British names. I think it’s cute when dogs have people names, but I mistook Henry for a boy.
This all happened in the middle of a pandemic, right?
Yes, I tried to contact animal shelters, but most were closed due to Covid-19 and others refused them as they were not taking animals at the time. But I managed to find good forever homes for Margaret and Reginald and I didn't want to part with Henry.
You decided to bring Henry back to Australia
I did! Sorting out jabs and all, it’s a long and complicated story. She was a bit anxious, so we did a lot of training to try and ensure she would be comfortable. In the end, she did really well.
A trip to Australia, especially for an anxious rescue pup, is a very big deal. How did you prepare her?
The trainer gave me a list of things I had to do every day, with the idea that we would get her to want to sit on her mat (the same mat that would be going into her crate on the flight). We wanted her to associate being on the mat with relaxing, so we used a lot of positive reinforcement. Every day for 30 days, she would get on the mat, and I would have a list of things that I had to do, like make a bunch of noise or run around in circles. If she stayed on the mat, she would get rewarded. By the end, I could put the mat down, she would go and sit on it, I could leave the room, bang on the door, open and shut the door, stay away for 20 seconds and she would just stay chilled out on the mat, relaxing. So, I guess that was the end goal.
Huge respect to you both! And there's something very special about Henry isn't there ...
I found that she actually has 15 different breeds in her with Labrador and Lancashire Heeler both 12%. She’s very much a mutt, but with a strong Australian background - the DNA test showed that she's 37% Australian cattle dog! So she's basically just coming back home :-).
It's like a doggy 'who do you think you are'! What do you love most about having her with you?
Does Henry have any funny character traits?
She’s very polite – and gets angry if other dogs aren’t as polite as she is. She also loves playing with bugs.
Cutie pie. We're so glad Henry and her Aussie siblings, Taco and Sam, are eating Happy Dog Breakfast - how would you describe it in just three words?
Nutritious, delicious and plant-strong.
Welcome home Henry - and thanks for sharing the story Sian, you're an awesome dog mum!
P.S. We love the food hack that Sian's mum told us about while she and Henry were still in the US:
'She [Sian] has been trying to get some decent puppy food, but supermarkets are totally empty.......... So I sent a photo of the Happy Dog Food label and she will be making an adapted version for Henry, which is perfect as she doesn't have a fridge in the car. It will be a really good way to have food that she can easily prepare in transit and on the road.'