Of Jonah and Henrietta

Dear Friend and Reader:

Friday night, my beloved canine friend of 12 years left this world, naturally, without narcotics or medical intervention. Jonah Kelly Francis and I were together nearly all the time from the day I adopted him at age 5. Our dear friend Henrietta Saint Francis left this world in October 2021. Today, on Day of the Dead, I am standing up for both of them together.

Jonah Kelly Francis. Photo by Eric Francis.

Jonah arrived in 2012 by way of a girlfriend named Maggie Kelly who was on her way to Hawaii. The first time I met Jonah, the very first thing he did was bite me. He was miffed about something; maybe they had had a little spat; Maggie plopped him on my couch and went back to the kitchen.

I got down on the floor to greet him, extended my hand, and met his teeth. You might say it was love at first bite. I knew he was setting boundaries and establishing mutual respect. It was just a little warning nip.

Before she moved to Hawaii, Maggie had the choice between assigning Jonah to me or to her mother, who was putting her under some pressure to leave Jonah with her. Maggie and I took Jonah for a walk one evening right before she left. I said, “Maggie, he’s your dog.” She spent the night at my place and Jonah stayed with me.

Jonah Kelly Francis. Photo by Eric Francis.

Jonah was exceptionally comfortable on the physical plane, and had many cat-like qualities. But as T. S. Eliot wrote, “A dog is a dog, and a cat is a cat.”

Henrietta Saint Francis. Photo by Eric Francis.

Three or so years into my journey with Jonah, I found a stray canine in south New Jersey, near Asbury Park. She was frolicking around on someone’s lawn like it was the happiest day of her life. I knocked on the door; nobody was home.

She had no collar on and no other humans were present in the area. So I decided to sit down on the grass and see what she did. The next thing I knew, her paws were against my chest and she was in my lap looking into my eyes, tail flapping.

I drove the two of them back to Kingston the next day. I told her she could stay as long as it was OK with Jonah. They fell in love and that was that. She was one of those “what’s not to love?” kind of dogs. She was given the name Henrietta Saint Francis.

Jonah and Henrietta. Photo by Eric Francis.

It turned out Henrietta had escaped from a 40-dog, six-agency dog dump rescue five miles from where I found her. Evidently, after being rescued and shaved except for her paws, she turned herself invisible and sauntered off into the sunset, then turned up in my lap a few days later. The sole clues of her location and her furry paws (rushed shaving job) led me to search local news for information, where I found a description of the rescue operation from a few days earlier.

Jonah and Henrietta. Photo by Eric Francis.

For his part, Jonah was a puppy mill dog, originating in Delhi, New York, given to a shelter at age two because he was allegedly a biter. I know exactly what happened: he was so cute, the people in his first household treated him like a toy — and he wasn’t having it. Jonah existed in this world only on human terms, and insisted on being treated with dignity and respect. Maggie’s family took him in as a foster via Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue, and I was his official adopted home.

Henrietta Saint Francis. Photo by Eric Francis.

Henrietta had the ability to ascend to every surface, and had diverse culinary tastes.

Jonah Kelly Francis. Photo by Eric Francis.

Jonah always had this kind of proud, commanding presence. I know from his paperwork that he had the Sun in Virgo and the Moon in Leo. This matched perfectly my Sun in Pisces and Moon in Aquarius (our Sun and Moon placements were opposite). Because he was such a badass, I assumed he was Sagittarius rising and that was the ascendant that I used.

You could never, ever tell Jonah what to do. It really was that simple. Dachshunds are notoriously stubborn, but Jonah was really special. They are a fantastic breed as long as you never try to “break” them. Within the bounds of what is possible for a dog, I let Jonah make all of his own decisions.

Jonah Kelly Francis. Photo by Eric Francis.

Jonah did not like when I left, and would always camp out in my suitcase when I was packing. Here, I was getting ready for my January 2020 trip to Ukraine. I spent very little time away from home while I had him — maybe at the most 12 to 16 weeks total in all of 12 years. I work at home and was with my dogs nearly all the time.

Photo by Eric Francis.

After he was made sick when a vet gave him a shot of a toxic drug called Convenia (given to dogs and cats, and should be banned), he was in very rough shape. It is supposed to be an antibiotic but can knock them into a catatonic state. (I could write a long essay called “Why You Shouldn’t Trust Vets,” which I will get to soon.)

For the next few months, I nursed him back to health with love and good food, creating a diet for him. Standard-issue meals were some form of fresh-cooked meat, plus either squash, pumpkin or sweet potato. Their diet also included chopped apples, goat yogurt, and bone broth.

When he was younger, I could chop up a raw chicken leg and he would crunch it down like it was Doritos and salsa.

As chef de cuisine at the Canine Cafe, I’ve learned a lot about how to cook for dogs, and could easily write an article or short book about how to do it well. Most pet food is poison; kibble is inherently rancid and nearly undigestible. Commercial canned pet foods are sometimes made from the bodies of euthanized pets. That is why there are mass poisoning incidents from time to time.

We may credit Dr. Cate Jenkins, a dioxin whistleblower at the EPA and later a pet food safety specialist, for personally warning me about this. (The EPA went after her twice for her dioxin truth-telling, fired her twice, and twice she sued them federally and won. So the second time she was reinstated, she was able to choose her own assignment — and it was protecting animals from the greed and stupidity of the feed industry.)

Please feed your canine or feline actual food — not pet food. My rule with Jonah and Henrietta was I would not offer them anything I would not eat myself. Think about that the next time you open a can of even premium dog or cat food. Would you eat a scoop? Animals need simpler food than we do, but in truth what is good for them is good for us (including very low carbs).

Photo by Eric Francis.

I had no way to know Henrietta’s astrology, though I found her right during the Scorpio Full Moon at Beltane one year. From her demeanor, I sketched out her astrology to be a combination of Taurus, Capricorn and Pisces.

Photo by Eric Francis.

My dogs had no training but worked well as a unit.

One day in 2017, a building code inspector made the mistake of coming into my music studio uninvited, above the loud protests of two yapping dogs (who would sound like five dogs when they got going). Jonah somehow got his teeth around her pants leg, scratching her skin; and then when she swatted him, he nipped her hand.

Henrietta would have bit her, except her mouth was too small. But the two of them raised a racket and Henrietta threw herself under the code inspector’s feet (and was not hurt). Despite the fact that the code inspector’s entry was unauthorized, I was charged criminally with “harboring a dangerous dog.”

(Note, Jonah had no bites on his record, and had never been declared dangerous by a court. All dogs get one free bite, and can be killed after so little as the second. So he was not getting a first.)

Jonah and Henrietta. Photo by Eric Francis.

An attorney named Julian Schreibman took my case free. I collected letters of reference from the whole neighborhood. We offered the photo above as Exhibit One in their defense. Looking at the photo, the judge said wryly from the bench, “And which one was the culprit?”

During the proceeding, the court did not even bother taking jurisdiction over the case; we never entered a plea. Julian was driving me home and I mentioned that. “I know,” he said. “I wasn’t going to say anything.”

The judge was so annoyed with the city’s conduct that he dismissed the charges and issued a written ruling banning use of the “dangerous dog law.” Jonah was vindicated, other dogs were protected, and Julian was elected to the State Supreme Court of New York two weeks later (Jonah was his last client as a private attorney).

For his services, I traded him mine as his official campaign photographer.

As for my canine units, they received the prestigious Valor and Service Awards (from me), which I made up at Badge and Wallet (shown in the photo above).

Jonah and Henrietta. Photo by Eric Francis.

“Our intention in refusing a plea bargain and taking this case to the logical end was specifically to protect other dog owners who might not be in a position to fight.”

— Me quoted accurately by the Kingston Times

The world’s largest dog bed, at The Place of the Way, my music studio.

Jonah and Henrietta. Photo by Eric Francis.

In all respects, they were working dogs as well as companion animals. For the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of your canine friends, it’s vital that they serve a purpose within the human community. It is all they want: to feel needed, and to belong among us (remember that about yourself). There was plenty for Jonah and Henrietta to do, and they always rose to the occasion.

I miss them both dearly, moment to moment. For the first time in my life, with their presence, I’ve had an actual sense of family, a household, and of belonging to a bonded community of unfailing, lifelong loyalty and devotion. I counted on their awareness, studied them and learned everything I could from them. And I watched them as they studied me.

More than anything, I miss how they smell. They would sniff me, and I would sniff them, and from this sniffing fest I learned to sniff my way around the world.

My apartment and office are very quiet now. I almost don’t know what to do with myself, so I’m taking it slow this week.

Jonah and Henrietta know they are welcome back in my life anywhere along the road to Laniakea. Critters tend to stay close to their people, so I’ll be feeling for them all the time, and everywhere.

With love and blessings from St. Francis and the Francis clan,

Eric signature

7 thoughts on “Of Jonah and Henrietta”

  1. Eric,
    Sending Lots of Love and Light wrapped in a big hug for you! Your sweet fur babies were so precious!!
    Thank you for sharing your story about them with us. Hang in there- I know that “silence” … it’s not easy.
    Much Love, Casey

  2. Dear Eric,
    My heart goes out to you, words really cannot do justice to the magical presence of our beloved furry, sweet, unconditionally loving, patiently waiting and always happy to see you again companions. Lost my beautiful queen “Tasha”, “Tashi” “Muffeline” “Chou-Chou-Girl” too many moons ago. My long-legged, yellow lab-great dane mix with an aristocratic demeanor and not a mean bone in her, that I fell in love with the moment I saw her at the dog pound on Maui, where she stranded after they had picked her up somewhere in Haiku as a stray dog. The 13 years we shared a roller coaster life together were such a precious gift, bonding us forever with a love that is as palpable today as ever.
    Much Love, your dogs love you to pieces, Silvia

  3. Oh, Eric! My condolences on your loss of Jonah and Henrietta! What a great tribute you make to them in this piece.
    I live with two dogs as well, my constant companions, my pack and family. Although I think about what the future will bring, I don’t dwell on it, and I savour my precious time with them in the now.
    You clearly gave your pooches a great life… I hope that is a comfort to you at this time.

  4. So sorry for your losses. Loved hearing about your dogs over the years.Take good care and know that they loved you. Thank you for all that you do. Don’t know what I would do without you. So thankful for your gift and services.

  5. Dear Eric, so sorry to hear of Jonah and Henrietta. I, too, have loved and been loved by a dog, and know the depth of the loss when they’re gone. Big Boy, my husky, still shows up in my dreams twenty years after he left this earth plane. Deep condolences.

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