Harry, the Lovable Mutt

This quintessential ‘pound puppy’ makes everyone smile

By Cathryn Rakich
July 2018

High energy would be an understatement when it comes to describing Harry, a 12-pound terrier mix who was named for his likeness to the pre-bath scruffy mutt in the classic children’s book, “Harry the Dirty Dog.”

Simon de Vere White and Alina Cervantes adopted the wiry black-and-silvery pooch last year from the Sacramento SPCA as a family dog for their daughters, Mari and Kyle. “He is that quintessential pound puppy that is a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” says de Vere White. 

How does the family handle the irrepressible vigor of a 1-year-old pup who can make a vertical leap straight into the air and chase a ball to exhaustion? “We have a high level of energy,” explains Cervantes, an early-childhood education professor at American River College.  

Harry gets plenty of walks—four or five a day around their East Sacramento neighborhood. “At least twice a week, we’ll go for a good 2-mile run,” notes de Vere White, who co-owns de Vere’s Irish Pub in Downtown Sacramento.

“He definitely gets you off the couch,” admits Cervantes, who embarked on a “healthy and fit” lifestyle last year. “Harry has been a big part of that.”  

Out and about
The family has found that owning a dog is a good icebreaker when it comes to meeting the neighbors. “It’s a good excuse to get out of the house with everybody,” notes de Vere White. “We have lived here a number of years, but now we are walking the neighborhood. It’s great to meet new people.”

Harry also is finicky when it comes to making friends with other canines. “He has his favorites,” says Cervantes. “It’s hit and miss” when walking him on a leash. “Because we live in East Sac, we had visions of sitting somewhere for lunch with dogs all around us—and it just has not transpired yet.” But with the upswing of dog-friendly restaurants in the area, the family is still hopeful. “This summer, we will be ready to try it out,” adds de Vere White. 

So smart
In terms of training, Harry may be too smart for his own good. “He is a work in progress,” says Cervantes. “He’s been to doggy school. But we need to be more consistent with his commands. Because he is a really smart dog, he picks things up very quickly. He has the impression that he is a lion. He is definitely an alpha dog.”

When asked about allowing Harry on the furniture, Cervantes is hesitant to respond. “He is just so cuddly,” she confesses. “The trainer was adamant that the dog was never to be on the furniture. But if I’m here by myself and I have a blanket—I am very weak.” De Vere White is quick to point out that they are “definitely sending mixed signals.”  

Lifestyle adjustment
Like any new pet parents, the family has had to adjust their lifestyle to cater to the needs of another living being in the home, such as leaving events early because Harry needs to be let outside. “Which we knew—we were fully aware of what we were getting ourselves into,” comments Cervantes. “We just lost a little bit of our freedom.”

“If you’re going to make the commitment of getting a dog, it’s just part of it,” adds de Vere White. Taking Harry with them whenever possible, such as on a recent trip to Lake Tahoe, is part of the plan. Luckily, they also have built-in doggy sitters with Cervantes’ parents.


Mud bath
Harry “the Dirty Dog” lived up to his name one night after Cervantes returned home from work. “It was one of those long days when all I wanted was to get into my robe and relax on the couch,” she says. “I let Harry out and, of course, he found a huge pile of mud and rolled in it. I picked him up and realized he was drenched from head to toe— and got it all over my robe. I walked him into the bathroom and he shakes. There was sandy, gravely mud everywhere. I tried to bathe him but it was just a mud bath. But he was so cute as he was defiling my bathroom that I couldn’t really be upset about it.”

Part of the family
Harry’s exuberance is contagious. “He brings us so much joy,” says Cervantes. “I love coming home to him. It doesn’t matter if I had a bad day. I just dive in the door and roll on the ground. I’m just happy to see him.”

“He has added so much to the family,” notes de Vere White. “He’s a friend, a companion, a part of the family.”

“He makes me smile more,” says Cervantes. “He makes everybody smile more,” agrees de Vere White. 

Cathryn Rakich can be reached at crakich@surewest.net.

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