Gratitude Adjustment

Henry Face

When you live with a dog like Henry, you come to understand that every encounter with him, no matter how innocent, holds the potential for trouble.

But sometimes my little warning bells go dormant, probably so they can recover from overuse. Consequently, when I’m in my bathroom, digging out cleaning supplies from under the counter, and I hear the telltale scraping sound that I know is Henry’s paw against the bathroom doors, I don’t think too much about it. Well, other than crud, more scratches to fix.

The door cracks open and Henry’s nose peeks through. Then he pushes the door wide and stands there surveying me.

I hold up some clorox wipes. “I’m cleaning.”

He eyes me with a look that says, “Yeah, but how do I know you’re not planning to take those wipes for a walk instead of me?”

I set the container down with a solid thud that says I’ll be scrubbing not walking. Then I start to move everything else off the counter.

I feel Henry’s gaze on me as I transfer our countertop clock to the edge of the bathtub, followed by the soap dish, the Kleenex box, and the toothbrush holder.

Then I set to work on washing the counter and sink.

Henry’s toenails click clack across the floor, and I hear him sniffing the air.

“Seriously, Henry. Just cleaning. You’ve seen it all before.”

I glance back and find him watching me. Apparently this is the most fascinating thing in his life right now. Sadly, mine too.

I turn back to my dirty sink and pretend I don’t notice Henry’s staring and his sniff, sniff, sniffing.

Why did Alan and I think white was a good color for a sink anyway? Couldn’t we have chosen a nice beige? Something the shade of soap scum so I wouldn’t have to clean as often?

I hear an odd sound behind me. I ignore it because I’ve just discovered that if you pull too hard trying to fix the drain plug thingy that you think isn’t sitting right, it comes all the way out.


Hopefully I can reseat it.

Then my little warning bells whine back to life, and I realize there’s a voice in my head saying, “Hey, there’s a slurp, slurp, slurping sound, and I don’t know what that could be other than Henry doing something bad with Alan’s toothbrush.”

I whirl around.

Henry’s gaze is fixed on the toothbrush, his nose maybe eight inches from it.

He swings his head my way, and his eyes say, “What are ya lookin’ at me for?”

Hmm. How to reconcile Henry’s face of pure innocence with the strange slurping sound?

Can you afford to take any chances with your toothbrush?

Definitely not.

But in this case, it’s Alan’s toothbrush.

The next question is, do I really want to go all the way to the store to get him a new toothbrush when I’ve got a million things to get done today?

Maybe Henry didn’t slurp on it after all.

I look at Henry. He looks at me.

What’s a wife to do?

Honestly, I don’t know which way this is going to fall.

Then I remember some new toothbrushes—dentist-office freebies—that we have tucked away somewhere, so I’m saved from the test of whether I’m a rotten person or not.

Henry watches as I rake through the contents of the cabinet, pull out a new toothbrush—same color and everything—and swap it for Alan’s old one. Alan’ll never notice the pristine condition—he’s absent minded that way.

Given my busy schedule, my hubby likely has more reason than he knows of to be happy for those dentist-office freebies.

That gets me thinking. I believe God is sovereign. That He does, in fact, run the universe. How many things has God saved me from, while I remain blissfully unaware?

I’m quick to get frustrated when I see something go wrong in my life, but I never consider, let alone gratefully acknowledge, how many unseen things go right.

I need a gratitude adjustment. A commitment to cut off complaints with a word of thanks.

Because God knows I have more reasons than I know of to be thankful for God’s version of dentist-office freebies.

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Still Surviving Henry: The Untold Stories

Still Surviving Henry Cover_800px

Yep. The long awaited sequel is now unleashed on the public. And the big news is:


For a limited time, mind you. So get your copy now. And feel free to tell all your friends!

Here’s a blurb about the book:

Still Surviving Henry: The Untold Stories

The rogue torpedo of a dog is at it again!

Henry hauls author Erin Taylor Young and her readers into mischief, mayhem, hilarity, and heartwarming adventure. Come join Henry, canine catastrophe extraordinaire, as he romps through an all new collection of true life—and near-death—tales. You’ll laugh yourself silly—and maybe even shed a tear or two—as Henry shows that there’s a lot more to life than merely surviving.

For anyone who’s read Young’s first book, Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe, it won’t be a surprise to learn that she couldn’t fit all his antics into one book. For readers who haven’t yet met Henry, here’s to your full-tilt initiation.

Amazon Kindle
B & N Nook



Good-Deed Fail

Squirrel cramming food in his mouth

Dear God,

I’d like to bring Your attention to an issue I call Good-Deed Fail. Good deeds are obviously nice and important and all that, so I’m sure You want to encourage us to do them. Therefore, I feel like You oughta be doing Your part to make sure those good deeds go smoothly.

This does not appear to match my experience.

Take the Bird Food Incident, for example. I’m unburying my laundry room counter, sifting through piles of mittens, rags, and half-empty detergent bottles, when I discover my long lost bag of birdseed. Surely I ought to feed the birds this very moment. They’ve missed out on my offerings all winter.

So I slog out to my backyard still mushy from the spring thaw, and pour a long row of seed along our flat, wide fence cap. Do I complain about my wet feet and how much I hate that? No. I focus on my feathered friends’ needs.

I can’t wait to watch cardinals, juncos, sparrows, robins, blue jays, and other cute, winged things I don’t know the names of come partake of my feast. I hurry inside and dig out my bird book in case something really cool shows up.

Something does show up.

Big. Fat. Squirrels.

Why would I want to waste my time and money—seeds ain’t cheap, You know—feeding a bunch of belly-dragging rodents? I mean, if they’re scrawny, I guess I’m okay with that. But these guys need Weight Watchers intervention.

So what do those porkers do? They shove grub into their mouths while I stand by the window plotting what I would do if I had a shotgun. Which I don’t.

Then Henry, the periodically insane dog You’ve seen fit to give me, senses quarry. A little grin creases my face. You’ve provided the perfect solution to the pilfering troublemakers.

I release my secret weapon.

Why, oh why don’t I consider the consequences of Henry’s paws pounding along a large stretch of muddy, spongy sod?

He splatters to the fence and terrifies those creeping critters halfway to cardiac arrest. They disappear up the nearest tree without snatching a seed for the road. But my dog can pack a huge wad of gunk under his toenails and between his toes, to say nothing of his mud-mottled coat.

God, couldn’t You have made it a dry, sunny day when I noticed the birdseed bag?

I stand out on the patio, hunched over my hound, and clean grime from his limbs for what seems like six or seven hours. Then I shoo him into the house before he can plow up the entire septic field.

Five minutes later, those rotten rodents shimmy up the fence for another round of the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Henry smashes his nose to the window—another smear I’ll need to wipe up—and cries to go out.

And quivers.

And whimpers.

And jumps up and down like a maniac.

I can cope with my psychotic yoyo only so long before I have to let him loose. He thunders through the mire like a herd of race horses at the Kentucky Derby.

The squirrels—instincts fully functional despite their gorged bellies—skitter to safety. God, how ever did You make four-legged balloons so nimble?

Once they depart, Henry wants to come inside. Which means I have to wipe him down. Again.

And five minutes later? A repeat performance.

Let me be clear about my complaint. I put a bunch of food out, trying to be nice, which merely lures prey that torments my dog’s predictor instinct (which You gave him, I might add). He, in turn, plagues me until I let him loose to traumatize said prey, thus dooming me to another round of Clean-the-Doggie.

So glad I’ve been generous and poured birdseed for a good thirty feet along the fence. Wouldn’t want to spend anything less than all stinking day dealing with my Good-Deed Fail.

What will I do if Henry manages to get his teeth on one of these idiot squirrels? Pray he gets a sudden urge to go vegan?

God, I don’t understand the futility of this endeavor. I mean, okay, a few birds are getting some seeds out of this, between skirmishes of The Battle of the Royally Bulged. But what kind of return on my investment is that? If You want me to do good deeds, I really think they ought to turn out better than this.

In fact, I have some suggestions for You for the next time I try to do something nice.

  1. Please make all good deeds error free, embodying sound intellectual design, so as to always produce observable benefit.
  2. Please make all good deeds efficient, so the benefit clearly surpasses the amount of effort.
  3. Please make all good deeds require little effort. This will make the huge benefit stand out even more.

Thank You for Your attention to this matter. I look forward to serving You soon.

Ara Gant, one of Erin’s not-so-very-holy inner voices

Click to tweet: Ever experience Good-Deed Fail?

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A Matter of Trust

Funny how a walk can be the most exciting event of the day for my dog Henry. I mean, right after the excitement of a cookie dropped on the floor.

I pick up his leash and Henry tears through the house, leaping, dancing, and galloping. Yes, he can do all three at once. Then he barrels full tilt toward the door and always realizes a bit too late when it’s time to put on the brakes. It goes like this: scramble, scramble…mad dash…hit the wood floor…skiiiiiiiiid…face-plant into the six-panel pine.

If I haven’t made it to the door by the time he recovers, his excitement turns to desperation, and he launches another antsy-pants dash through the house. Only he runs folded in half, his head skewed around to see if I’m following him, which means he ricochets through the halls like a blind rhinoceros trapped in an alley too small. It’s a wonder this dog doesn’t knock himself senseless.

When I get to the door, collar and leash in hand, Henry twists, wriggles, and tramps up and down the nearby stairs, because, you know, that makes it so much easier for me to get the collar and leash on him.

And of course he whines nonstop through this entire process because I might SOMEHOW forget he wants to go out.

Not that I don’t try to carry out this whole procedure with some semblance of decorum. I do. But Henry’s not a decorum kind of dog. Still, I won’t open the door until he sits calmly. (His version of this means his rump barely touches the floor and his extremities still twitch.)

Heaven help us if he’s finally prepped and seated at the door, and I forget something and must walk all of ten feet away to retrieve said item. The dog has a panic attack.

For pity’s sake, I’m dressed to take him out, he’s wearing the leash, and I’m still looking right at him. Of course we’re going for a walk. I’m not abandoning him, I’m just getting my hat.

I wish he could see that. Or at least that he could relax and trust me, even if he doesn’t understand my delay.

One day, after months and months of our routine, I have Henry seated precariously at the door when I realize I have yet again forgotten something.

My whole body cringes. “Henry, stay here. I’ve gotta get a doggie-doo bag.”

His eyes flit to me. They’re glazed over with one repeating message, “It’swalktimewalktimewalktimewalktime…”

“Yes, I know it’s walk time. And you’re sitting very nicely. I just need a bag before we can go.”

I take one step and Henry’s twitching elevates.

“I’ll be right back. I promise.”

I could walk him through the house, but it’s easier to dig a baggie out of the drawer if I don’t have his nose digging through the drawer with me. I head around the corner into the kitchen without him, expecting a panicked Henry at my heels any second.

After a good chunk of rummaging, I turn up the last bag we apparently own. I haven’t seen or heard Henry yet, so I hustle back to the door, half worried he keeled over and died.

There he sits, beautifully poised, straight and tall. Alert, but calm. Waiting.

Oh. My. Gosh.

He trusts me.

He finally believes I’ll follow through on my promise. That I won’t bring him to the brink of a goal and then abandon him.

“Henry, I’m so proud of you!” I fawn all over him, giddy not just over his obedience, but over the peace he found in trusting me. It’s been a long time coming. A hard time.

Then God’s voice nudges into my heart. “Henry trusts you, and you delight that he has. So I delight when my children trust me.”

The words drop hard in my gut. Oh, how often I’ve failed in patience, running ahead and slamming into walls. How often I’ve teetered on the ragged edge of panic, trying to sit still but twitching and whining. How often I’ve accused God of abandoning his purpose, his promises.

All he wants me to do is trust.

Even if he takes longer than I want.

Even if it seems God has disappeared from my view.

He isn’t gone. He’s just putting into motion things that need to happen. Working in ways I can’t see or understand any more than Henry can fathom my ways.

I reach for Henry and stroke his fur, filled again with joy for him. At least for today he’s trusting, waiting.

If Henry can do that, so can I. Not only to delight God, but to accept the good he wants for me. Because “blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45).


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What Do You Know?

Icicles against a green background

Having a dog with high exercise needs has had some life-altering repercussions. I used to be your basic, mostly-in-shape gal, but I’ve turned into an I-must-run-long-distances-everyday freak. I haven’t decided if this is a blessing or a curse. I mean, at first it was a matter of life and death—wear the dog out before he drives us all to cyanide. But now he’s old and doesn’t need a three-mile torture tour everyday.

Yet I still do it on my own.

Freak, I tell you.

Is it justifiable if I claim addiction to the aerobic conditioning and the feeling of accomplishment my run gives me? That I drag my ragged body out of bed every morning because I need my fix?

And when I finish my run, I come home and take Henry for his (which is pretty much a 100-meter dash and then much walking).

Winter time makes exercise more challenging. There are days or weeks when ice, snow, or bitter north winds cancel my run (and Henry’s sprint). Compound that with a few days of travel and an occasional injury that sidelines me because I’m probably too old for this. Lack of everyday training cuts my three-mile run down to one torturous mile.

Then, because of my…hmm, still don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse…because of my whatever, I MUST work everyday to build myself back up to three miles.

Slow. Painful. Process.

Which may or may not end in success before the next injury, blizzard, or traveling hiatus.
It’s always hardest right after I add another lap to my run. I try to incorporate a section of the neighborhood I haven’t been through lately so my brain has something to occupy itself with other than “IamgoingtodieIamgoingtodieIamgoingtodie.”

This time, my newest loop has a great downhill stretch that gives me a chance to relax before the long trek home. Unfortunately, the same hill has a few driveways and sidewalks with a type of stained concrete that always makes the pavement look wet.

In winter, wet means ice hazard.

Here’s the thing, I’m still paranoid about falling on the ice even when I know darn well it’s above freezing. Somehow my oxygen deprived brain believes ice can exist at forty degrees because it looks icy and it feels cold outside.

I either detour through the grass, which slows me down, or I do a stupid-looking shuffle step like I’m trying to run without actually putting my feet on the pavement.

Losing your stride, your rhythm, feels like throwing a rod in your well-tuned Ferrari. (Okay, I’m probably a Corolla, but you get the idea.) The worst part is that I miss the freedom of the downhill, the chance to breathe, to rejuvenate before the long stretch home.

All because I forget what I know and give in to how things look and feel.

That needs to stop.


As I huff and puff my way through the midpoint of this morning’s run, my breath makes clouds in the cold. The temperature has been hanging at forty all week. I round a bend and see my blessed downhill. Then…icy-looking concrete.

But I refuse to focus on feelings and appearances.

Today I will not trade what I know for what I fear. (Click to tweet this)

There. Is. No. Ice.

I run straight through the mirage, head high, traction solid. I breathe in the delight of easy, loping strides. The wind kisses my face, rumples my sweatshirt. My whole body sings with the joy of motion.

I could do this all day.

Well, if the hill went on forever.

It doesn’t though. But you know what? That long, flat backstretch home doesn’t seem so long now. Today I make it without a chainsaw hacking at my lungs, without a cramp ripping my side. Today that voice screaming at me to give up is a whisper I squelch without a thought.

Trusting what I know gave me a chance to rejuvenate, to focus my strength, to maintain my stride.

And that made all the difference.

I know something else now, too. Whatever faces me in life, whatever tasks God gives me to do? They might be one heck of a challenging run.

But that’s okay.

Whatever things may look like, or feel like, don’t much matter.

It’s what I know that counts.

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How My Dog Tried To Kill Himself (Again)


This month I’m guest blogging about—you guessed it: Henry—over at award-winning author Mesu Andrews’s blog. She writes great Biblical fiction, AND she loves dogs. Hop over to see how Henry tried to kill himself (again) and what that turned out to mean for the New Year. Here’s how the story starts…

I’m doing yard work when my hubby sticks his head out the window and tells me his big ball of bread dough rising on the counter has disappeared.

This is alarming on two levels. One, Alan was making the dough into our very most favoritist dinner rolls ever, and I REALLY wanted some. (I trim the hedges, Alan bakes. This is the kind of marriage we have. Don’t judge me.)

The second issue, far more troubling, is that when bulk food items mysteriously disappear in our house, it’s because our dog Henry made off with them.

Somehow I still feel the need to check the bread board myself, like Alan can mistake whether a cantaloupe-sized ball of dough is gone or not.

It’s gone.

Which means that for who knows how long now, Henry’s had dough for two-dozen dinner rolls rising in his nice warm belly. Can a stomach rupture?

(Click here to read the rest)


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10 Tips to Avoid Getting a Dog Like Henry

Henry and Fragments
One of the great things about writing a book is hearing from those who’ve read it. I get notes saying stuff like, “Gee, I thought our dog was bad, but not compared to Henry…” Or “I loved your book but I’m SO glad our dog isn’t like Henry…” Or “Your book made me laugh, but OH MY. I’m not sure I want a dog of my own now…”

Seeing as how I have so much, er—experience with a bona fide canine catastrophe, I thought I might be able to give some guidance to folks in the market for a dog. Let’s call it: 10 Tips to Avoid Getting a Dog Like Henry.

Tip 1
If you want to be absolutely, positively sure you won’t get stuck with a dog like Henry, then don’t get a dog at all.

Really. No dog.

Tip 2
Think goldfish. They are very happy in little bowls and do not bark, nip, or careen through your house, busting holes in your drywall.

Tip 3
I’m saying no dog. Ever.

Tip 4
In fact, you need to avoid dogs. All of them. Run. I’m serious. Otherwise some stray dog or cute puppy will find you and steal your heart.

All that said, you might still want a dog. I mean, there are only so many Henrys in the world, and what are the chances you’ll get stuck with one?


Tip 5
Understand the breeds and types of dogs out there and know what’s right for you and your family. There are tons of beguilingly cute dogs out there. They’ll look at you with sad puppy eyes. Get over it. Temperament is your main concern.

Check out dog breed encyclopedias, websites, or books like The Right Dog For You by Daniel Tortora. Do you need a dog that can be happy while you’re gone at work, or do you want one that lives for your company? If you live a couch potato lifestyle, don’t get a boxer. If your life is a constant sprint, don’t get a pekingese. And realize that even among dogs of the same breed, there will be variation. Half my angst over Henry could have been erased if I hadn’t expected a clone of the perfect boxer I was remembering from my rose-colored childhood, who may or may not have actually existed.

Which brings me to…

Tip 6
The perfect dog is not actually out there. They all have issues. Some issues are just easier to manage than others. Expect some trials going in, then you won’t be blindsided. Your puppy will chew stuff he shouldn’t. Important stuff. Like furniture. Carpet. Curtains. Or maybe just your TV remote.

Tip 7
Your dog will get sick, have accidents, barf on your carpet, and in general require vet care. He’ll also have a neurosis or two, and probably a fondness for something weird. Be okay with that.

Tip 8
Think about getting an older dog. One who’s done with all that whippersnapper stuff and just likes to hang out with you and sleep. Consider adopting a shelter or rescue dog and take advantage of online resources like petfinder.com to help you find a social dog and successfully navigate the adoption process.

Tip 9
Come to the party with an attitude of what you can give rather than what you can get. You can give love. You can give a good, stable home. You can give food and care and friendship. It’s amazing how easy contentment is when you don’t focus on yourself. (Click to tweet this)

Tip 10
Here’s the truth—you really might end up with a dog like Henry. But you might not. No matter what kind of dog you find, or what kind finds you, be patient, be calm, be encouraging. You’ll likely learn a thing or two about yourself in the process.

And if you do get a dog like Henry, I’ll tell you a secret. One day you could find yourself learning the same lessons I did—lessons about tough love, and growth, and change.

Lessons about faults, and hopes, and grace.

Lessons about life.

And you won’t trade your Henry for anything.

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Henry’s “Hikyoo” AKA Haiku

Apparently because I’m a writer, my dog Henry has decided that he’s a writer too. Only he’s taken up poetry because he says that’s classier. Here’s a video of his debut Haiku.

And here’s a link to my debut book, Surviving Henry, which does not contain any poetry but it IS funny.

What reviewers are saying:
“I laughed through the whole book…”
“One of the funniest books I have ever read…”
“Henry’s antics and Erin Taylor Young’s humor had me laughing until the tears were trickling…”
“Put this on your must read shelf!”

Click here to see more Henry Videos!