Adopted Dog Keeps Her New Best Friend Young at Heart

Sugar Plum’s loving companionship put the twinkle back in Henry’s eye.

Henry + Sugar Plum

At 90 years young, Henry’s life took on new meaning when he adopted a dog named Sugar Plum.

"Henry stooped to greet Sugar Plum with obvious joy, his body moving nimbly, as though he had forgotten he was ninety years old."

I watched from the back of the small Senior Center bus as Henry deboarded, making his way slowly and carefully down the steps to the sidewalk. His pace quickened slightly as he approached his front gate, entered and latched it carefully behind him. He braced his body against the fence as he inserted the key in the lock and turned it. The door flew open and out bound Sugar Plum, frolicking and jumping like a puppy despite her advanced age of almost 10 years. Henry grabbed at her collar then stooped quickly to greet her with obvious joy, his body moving nimbly, as though he had forgotten he was ninety years old.

Henry and Sugar Plum

Earlier, during lunch, we munched on enchiladas and I asked Henry if his life had changed since Sugar Plum moved in. He replied, “Who, my girlfriend?” His eyes sparkled and a crooked grin appeared. “I believe life changed a lot for both of us.” He relayed to me their daily routine, which rarely varies, and I asked if she ever does a “naughty.” His reply: “Aw naw, she’s been good since I met her about a year ago.”

Sugar Plum dressed up

Henry described how he climbs into bed every night, and Sugar Plum lies on her doggie bed where she can see him. After a bit, through the dark he hears a slight creak as Sugar Plum climbs into his recliner in the living room. I wonder to myself how much time she spends in it when he leaves. He shared with me how every morning he finds her in his chair and takes her face in his hands, presses his cheek to hers, then her forehead, then the other cheek. “I think she likes it,” he added. I see the gentleness and love on Henry’s face as he speaks of his sweet dog, and I know she loves his gentle, loving caresses. He comments that he talks to her about life all the time and she focuses all her attention on his every word, as though she understands. Perhaps she does.

Henry sent me some photos of himself and his doggy. One was taken before he adopted her. He looked his age, his eyes dull and lips drawn. On the day he and I had lunch together at the Senior Center he appeared a new man, looked much younger and his eyes sparkled like the New Mexico night sky. What is life without companionship and love? An empty house, suppers alone, no conversation, just silence.

Henry and Sugar Plum

Henry has had a number of pets through his many years. But there had been a long stint without any. He gazed meaningfully into my eyes and said, “I think we all need someone to love, don’t you?” I certainly agree, and I do believe he and Sugar Plum are both so much happier now that each has the love of the other!

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Henry won Animal Village New Mexico in New Mexico a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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