Like any legendary hero, Harry has his own creation myths. But they are more than myths. I got Harry when he was 4 months old from a backyard breeder in Provo, Utah. Perhaps a better description would be microhobby breeder--these folks didn't churn out litter after litter for the money. They planned their matings and litters. Harry was too tall according to the breed standards, although, as it turns out, he was better shaped for flyball than if he had been the perfect smooth fox terrier specimen. He remained lean and fit to nearly the end of his days.
Harry Houdini earned his name just a few days after I got him. I didn't know about dog crates back then, so when I went to work, I left him in a room. To prevent him from roaming the house, I closed the door. But the house was old and the door didn't latch. So I tied a string from the knob to a nail and put up a puppy gate in the doorway for good measure. He was waiting for me on my bed when I got home from work, string and puppy gate still in place in the door. The choice of his name was perfectly obvious.
|Taken the day I brought Iz home in early June, 1999.|
Even though I was a novice dog owner, it was clear that Harry wasn't happy on his own, so the following year, I returned to the same family in Provo and got his half-sister Iz. She took charge from the moment she arrived, a real queen bee, and he was incredibly relieved.
|Sharing the joys of a nap in the sun with puppy Azza in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.|
He lived his entire life surrounded by tough, feisty female fox terriers. After Iz died, Mimi and her sister Gracie alternately ran the pack. Sweet little Dyna was a constant presence. And of course when I went to Saudi Arabia, it was just Harry and Mimi for two years.
|Iz and Harry running along the beach south of San Francisco.|
|Enjoying the Oregon coast.|
He managed to put up with a litter of fox terrier puppies with some grace. By the time the next puppy showed up (Azza), Harry was getting older and was far less concerned about puppy discipline. He was willing to ignore as long as he was ignored in turn.
|Taken in southern Utah around 2001 or so. We had just crossed a stream and Harry is drying off.|
Harry successfully hunted mice, gophers, and rabbits. He also broke the jaw of a one-eyed kitten I had at the time (Lola) who dared to step on him in the middle of the night. Happily, she didn't repeat the mistake.
|Conquering a jebel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.|
Like any beloved companion, Harry had a host of nicknames: Boo, Harry Belly, Mr. Crankypants, and later in life, Old Man.
Harry swam in the Pacific Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. He went white-water rafting and canyoneering in southern Utah. He went along when we hiked and snowshoed in the mountains outside of Salt Lake City. He survived an attack by a pack of coyotes (that story will make a good future post). He hiked in the deserts of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
|Iz in the foreground, Harry behind her. Rafting the Green River in Utah.|
He lived in Utah, Texas, Saudi Arabia, and Oregon. He traveled by plane more than once. He stayed in hotels and tents and friends' homes. He went on cross-country road trips with me.
|Running along the beach in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia.|
When he was around 4 or 5 years old, he developed this odd habit, a subvocal moaning or groaning sound that resembled some modes of Tuvan throat singing. He would make this noise whenever he was contemplative or poised for the next exciting thing to happen. It was a characteristic that was uniquely his that continued to the end of his life; none of my other dogs ever did anything like that.
|This photo was inspiration for the design of the UTB logo.|
And of course, there was the flyball. I was so incredibly lucky to have him as my partner in that game for nine years. He was a founding member of the Utah Tail Blazers (sadly no longer running). Harry and I finished off his career with the great folks of DogzRule! from Austin, Texas. His last tournament at which he squeaked by with enough points to earn his ONYX title was incredible--it is one of the memories that I relive often and cherish.
|Harry with the Utah Tail Blazers.|
Harry loved his tennis ball but he also loved plush squeaky toys. He most often selected quadruped-shaped ones that he could carry around by the crotch or the head, limbs dangling, ready for a good shake. Partly as a result of his flyball training, he was also a tugging fiend. He was fairly relentless in initiating play for the past few years. It tugs at my heart to take a break and check on the dogs and not see Harry standing with a toy in his mouth, waiting for me with that expectant gleam in his eyes.
|Harry always lay with his legs out behind him when he was happy and relaxed.|
Rest in peace, my friend. We had a long run together, a shared life of adventure and fun and hardship and sadness. You were the perfect companion: tough, loyal, ready for anything. The end came far too quickly for both of us but I knew that you were ready to go at last. I hope to see you again.