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Henry the Colorado Dog: Legacy aims to preserve 1,000 acres of land

Famous Instagram pets leave lasting impact on American West
Henry the Colorado Dog: Legacy aims to preserve 1,000 acres of land
Posted at 11:59 AM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 13:59:53-04

BOULDER, Colo. — Andre Sibilsky and Cynthia Bennett moved to Colorado around eight years ago. Once in the mountains, they adopted a dog that would change their lives forever.

Henry the Colorado Dog not only changed their lives, but countless others through his Instagram account.

“It's really been a wild ride... I created Henry's account because I had way too many pictures of him," Bennett said while hiking on a trail in Boulder. “He was just a very strong, loyal dog who looked out for everyone besides himself.”

Bennett and Sibilsky felt like Henry needed a friend, so they adopted a cat they named Baloo.

“Baloo just attached himself to Henry. And at first, Henry was kind of like, "What is this little creature running all over me?"" Bennett said while laughing.

It was on their outdoor adventures when Henry fell in love with Baloo. The two were inseparable.

“Baloo would literally not leave Henry's side. He thought Henry was his mom," said Bennett. “Just that relationship, sharing that, that's kind of when everything took off for us.”

They began posting pictures of Henry and Baloo on Instagram. The account now has more than two million followers.

“I really wanted a photo to introduce Baloo. I was like, "I wonder if he'll sit on Henry." So I put him on Henry, and then he just laid down and bear hugged his head," Bennett remembered. "It was cuter than anything I would have ever imagined.”

After almost eight years of sharing his love with the world, Henry was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

“He was our kid. So, it was really hard when he got cancer," Bennett said through tears. “He was such a tough dog that no matter what, he would be like, "Oh, we're going for a hike!" Even though he doesn't feel great. And he would just be so excited to have fun. And he literally enjoyed every last second.”

Near the end of March, Henry the Colorado Dog passed. The family was devastated, but Baloo, who did not understand where Henry went, experienced severe depression.

"He was running from window to window, screaming. He was hiding in closets, under backpacks," Bennett said about Baloo. "He's never had second without Henry, and Henry was his mom.”

The couple knew they had to do something. That something came in the form of a puppy named Pan.

“Pan ran right up to him, and Baloo looked at him, and then Pan sat. Instead of jumping on him like a puppy normally would, he just sat and looked at Baloo," Bennett explained. “Pan is our little savior.”

“Things are different now. Henry was Baloo's mom, and now this is Baloo’s puppy," said Sibilsky.

Pan and Baloo hike all over Colorado trails in memory of Henry. Sibilsky and Bennett started a nonprofit they know Henry would have loved, called the Henry and Baloo Foundation.

“Our goal is to preserve 1,000 acres in the American West," said Sibilsky. "We privately preserve the land, which takes politics out of the equation — something we can all agree on and get behind. It also takes the burden off the state and national parks."

The two are excited to preserve their first piece of land and hope to see it happen this year. They say it is a way to expand the wildlife corridor.

“These are lands that are buffering or connecting previously existing protected areas. The point of the foundation is to target quality not quantity in terms of this land. Not just the accumulation of vacant acres, but trying to preserve wildlife, habitat, and water," Sibilsky explained.

Sibilsky and Bennett said their mission carries on Henry's legacy.

“With this foundation, there never has to be a last time or an end," Sibilsky said while hiking with Pan and Baloo. "He can live on forever.”