Anyone who is a fan of the Indiana Jones movies will remember this line from The Last Crusade. My son used it as inspiration when he named our dog Indiana. No dog ever lived up to his reputation better than our beloved family pet. I’m very sad to announce that Indy was put down today after a six month battle with cancer. He was probably around twelve years old but we don’t know his birth date because he came to us from the shelter after someone else gave up on him when he was very young.
I can still remember the first time we met. He was quiet but alert and anxious around his new family. We suspected that he had been abused as a puppy because he was extremely aggressive and territorial. The first time I hugged my wife, as I was leaving the house, Indy came after me in no uncertain terms. He growled and nipped at my leg until I separated from her. It makes me think he had been in a home where there was domestic abuse and he thought it was his job to defend the woman from the man. That’s probably why they wanted to get rid of him. It always amazes how people can treat animals so poorly and yet it’s somehow the animal’s fault when they act out. Whenever you combine the natural protective instincts of a German shepherd/collie mix with mistreatment and little socialization, the end result is fairly predictable and always the owner’s fault.
Indy was the most aggressive dog we have ever had but with his immediate family he was as lovable as a dog could get. Even at 65 pounds of muscle he fancied himself a lap dog and constantly tried to worm his way onto the couch to be close to his family. He never was more than three feet away from one of us at all times and even when he seemed to be asleep we couldn’t get past him to go outside or to another room without his prompt attention. He also hated it when I left for work and would guard the front door to keep me from leaving. If I tried to walk out the back, he would sprint to that door and bark at me as I left. His separation anxiety must have been contagious because we became inseparable and I looked forward to our evening walks after work with great anticipation.
With Indy’s intense nature and protective instincts our walks were always an adventure. He hated squirrels and cats and other dogs, especially the little yippy ones who always wanted to challenge him as we passed their yards. He almost killed a dachshund one day when that little idiot actually took the first bite. The fight was over in ten seconds with Indy pinning him to the ground and the dachshund crying for help. Indy even bit me as I tried to untangle them while the other dog’s owner stood by helplessly. At least she knew her dog had started the fight so she didn’t complain too much about the injuries he had suffered. I got Indy back on his leash and out of there as fast as I could and when we were out of sight, I gave him several treats for his decisive victory. We passed that house many times since but luckily that dumb dachshund survived and learned his lesson the hard way. Unfortunately for Indy, that was the day I decided he could never be off his leash and we had to use a choke collar to manage his aggression.
The only place Indy was ever allowed to roam freely was at the lake in Minnesota. The place was big enough and there were no cars so we felt safe giving him some freedom up there. The biggest danger there was from wildlife like skunks and bears. I really didn’t want to see him tangle with a skunk because I knew how that would end but he was great at keeping the bears away. He was plenty loud enough and fearless beyond words so I think the bears just kept their distance till he went home after a week. His personality really changed when he was at the lake. He was much more relaxed and all that freedom made him sleep better at night. The cold water and cool nights probably had an effect on him too because his thick dark coat was always hot in the summertime. He never wanted to leave the lake, but then again neither did we.
I don’t know what it is about dogs that I love so much but Indy was one of a kind. He loved to fight and wrestle but one time when he pinned me to the ground and stood there hovering over me he had the look of a predator. Two seconds later we were back to snuggling and he was licking my face but I never forgot what he was capable of doing. He was much closer to being the master but he willingly relinquished that title in favor of being part of the family. His willingness to place himself second always reminded me of the way Jesus lived His life and I think most dogs are closer to being genuinely faithful companions than many people I know.
If it’s true that all dogs go to Heaven then that’s where I want to go when I die. Give me an afterlife filled with faithful dogs and plenty of fields to run in and I will be eternally grateful. I really don’t think it’s just a coincidence that dog is just God spelled backwards. Dogs are the most forgiving creatures God ever created and they serve humanity in so many ways. And they do it all so willingly and with very little expectation. Isn’t that the way we should all behave towards each other?
I’m sad that Indy is no longer with us but 11 great years far outweighs one really bad day and we did not want him to suffer one more day than he had to, we owed him that much. For those of you who share my love for canines, please take a moment to give your mutt a hug and maybe an extra treat. I sincerely hope that all dogs go to Heaven and we will all be together again in the Hereafter but for now let’s truly enjoy each day we have to spend with our pets. God bless all of them for the joy they bring to humans everywhere.
Thanks for everything Indy, you were the best friend any man has ever had.
REST IN PEACE