So I've had this one 1989 prom-dress modelling picture of me up on Flickr for a while - and yesterday a celebrity-mocking art site called Gallery of the Absurd ended up linking to it as a prime example of 80's High School prom hair (comparing my AquaNet-shellacked hair lilt to that of Conan O'Brien). Righteous! I feel so much better about the fact that my prom dates were all platonic...
- The noises she made around the house; the click of her toenails on the floor; her sigh when she laid down; the tap of her paw on the door (used to be the click-clack of her dog door); her unearthly howl when sirens went by; the little chompy sound she made when she was tired; the good-morning yowps she used to wake us up with.
- Being greeted by her when we came through the front door – whether we’d been gone 3 minutes or 3 days, she was always just so damned happy we were home again.
- It’s weird to cook in the kitchen without having her underfoot, laying around in the most inconvenient spot possible.
- When I lock the door at night, it’s hard not to wonder if she needs to go out one more time.
- At bedtime, she usually followed me and laid down on the floor at my side. When I awoke, I always had to dodge her when stepping out of bed (unless she was awake first and stamping around the bed trying to get us up).
- The feel of her head under my palm – the shape of her head, the soft little divot between her eyes, the texture of her coat. Rubbing the insides of her ears and hearing the little grunts of bliss she’d make. Scratching that exact place on her butt that would cause her entire back to quiver in happiness, and the spot near the bottom of her ribcage that would make her back leg kick.
- After she got a bath and was all dry, her fur would fluff up and almost seem to glow in white and pale yellow – you could definitely tell when she was fresh out of the tub.
- She used to sling her front leg over your arm when you petted her ruff or belly, like she was holding your hand.
- When she first got a new squeaky ball, she’d run off to some quiet private corner with it, and for a long time she’d just sit there and squeak it in different cadences, like she was composing music. When she was playing, she liked nipping at the ball really fast and staccato, imitating how we’d squeak it. Once she tired of a toy, though, she disabled it by biting the squeaker right out of it with an almost surgical precision.
- We used to turn away and whisper to her ball when she was waiting for us to throw it, and that drove her nuts – she couldn’t bear having us commiserate and tell secrets with the ball.
- She loved bringing a ball up to the hot tub just to, you know, show it to us – she’d nudge it along the rim for a few minutes, doot-dee-do, until it PURELY BY ACCIDENT dropped in – oh no! - so we’d have to fish it out and throw it for her .
- Sometimes I’d dunk the ball underwater, fill it up with water, and squirt her in the nose with it from beneath the surface. Man, that drove her nuts, but she loved it.
- When we’d dance around, she’d go crazy, barking and jumping up at us like she wanted to join in. Sometimes we’d catch her paws and dance with her for a few seconds, while she snapped at our hands all half-happy, half-annoyed.
- You could have her all wound up play-fighting, her huge strong jaws and sharp teeth snapping like mad; and yet right then you could stick your whole hand right in her mouth, and she’d always be able to pull back her bite enough not to hurt. She had amazing control. As soon as you were done tussling and told her, “nice girl”, she would mellow out and be sweet again.
- When we watched TV, she liked to lay under the coffee table and sleep on one of our feet.
- That look in her eyes that said she’d love us no matter what.
I think every pet-owner always ends up with at least one that embodies all the best reasons why we put up with the mess, the hassle, and the shock-and-awe vet bills that are part of having animal companions. Over the past 10-1/2 years, Indy has been the one for us - truly, our best friend.
We had neither the money nor living situation for a dog when we got her… But we went to "just go look" at a litter a coworker's dog had - Bill took one look at her and said, “Hey, that one looks just like Midgie!” – the legendary dog from his childhood. Well, that was it; the Midgie clone was coming with us. On the drive home, laughing at my coworker's explanation of the puppy's convoluted lineage, we decided she could only be described as being of “Indeterminate Origin” – “Indy” for short.
Where can you start describing what an awesome dog she turned out to be? Her supermodel looks - huge, dark eyes; sweet, expressive face; fur that after baths was downy, glowing white and pale gold... Even her goofy ears were cool, whether sticking our from her head like a Gremlin or folded back into "high-speed" mode.
She was so well-behaved – after puppyhood, she never chewed anything that wasn’t hers (well, aside from the occasional trash-diving for paper products; tissue was her chewing gum). She didn’t dig. She didn’t even bark until nearly a year old – the first time she busted out a big “WOOF!”, she scared herself and hid under a table. From then on, she only used that fearsome bark when she had something important to report (sometimes that was a poodle walking on the sidewalk below our back deck – but to her, any border infiltration was a critical security issue). Once we accidentally left the back yard fence-door open; for most dogs, that would be a mandate to roam the earth… But when we came home, there was Indy, just waiting for us as always. She loved going out for walks - but the place she most wanted to be was simply wherever her people were.
Anyone who wonders whether dogs have personalities would be convinced by spending a week with Indy. Indy was a sweet girl, but with moods of near-human complexity. She smiled in joy, frowned in anger, sighed dramatically in boredom or frustration. If we came home to her squinting at us with a submissive, “please-don’t-yell-I-didn’t-mean-to- and-hey-did-I-mention-you-look-fabulous-today?” wag, we knew somewhere we'd find a shredded pile of paper towels and tinfoil - she had no poker face whatsoever. One hint that she was part Malamute was that she loved to talk. In the morning, she’d wait silently, her face inches from mine, until I cracked an eye - then she’d start chatting in soft little yowps; after that she’d pace around the bed, spewing a Chewbacca-like rant of growls and groans until we gave in and got up, already.
Indy didn’t warm up to everyone right away; but we liked that she was a dog who took time to suss out new people rather than one who'd welcome any old stranger. As soon as she vetted someone, though, they totally became part of her pack, and upon their next visit she’d be all dancing and wags and “Where have you BEEN?!” When Bill was out of town, Indy was both my best alarm and the best weapon against unwelcome visitors. Strange noises were only important if Indy thought so. Her career was in home security, and she was always on the job.
Indy’s favorite vacation spot was Club Rhodes in Arizona -swimming in the pool, and most likely steak (or smoked salmon, or caviar!) for dinner. She gave the ocean a try, but couldn’t stand how a ball wouldn’t stay put long enough for her to get to it. She loved visits from my parents, with the daily walks and constant stream of snacks. She adored a thrown ball, but never bought into the notion that fetch involved actually having to give it back. She composed songs with her squeaky toys.
Indy was so smart . She worked things out, and she seemed to understand what you were saying to her a lot of the time. She was funny as hell. I could say a million other things about her... But what it all boils down to is that, for us, she was the perfect dog. Oh God, how we'll miss her.