At 4:30pm today, July 1st, I saw my dog alive for the last time. It was a brief encounter, routine on the farm. I had just come home with the goats, bringing them back from a sitter after my return from Europe. Indo was trotting around the truck with joy at seeing me home. She has always done this, respectfully, and with loyalty befitting a dog. Whenever someone comes to visit the farm, she is there to greet them, checking to make sure all is well, and if it is, inviting the visitors in with a waging tail and soft wet nose.
Today was like any other, rounding the truck, checking my scent, and going on about her day after a quick pet and acknowledgment. That was it. Earlier that day I had brushed her; checking to make sure she was in good health with a routine look over, nail check, and nice brushing. She never liked the brushing, it would take all her hard earned scents and dirt off. When I would brush her, it would look like another dog had come off her. Indo had a short coat, but lots of undercoat that no one ever really noticed until I would brush her and so much extra fur would come off. White fur, which is still all over my truck, on my work cloths, and on the ground where I brushed her last. Actually, the last two brushings are still clearly spread in the yard. I will go get some tomorrow as a reminder of my dear friend.
It is a moment I am still working to fully accept, loosing Indonesia. She could still be out there somewhere, because I have not found any sign of her. That’s the problem, no sign. She would have come when I called, being nearby on the porch, or just at the edge of the land burying a bone or digging one up. She could have been just over the fence chasing a rabbit, or checking on me, but she wasn’t. If I call, within a moment or two she is there, tail wagging, trotting up with expectation of my will; always ready for whatever the need. But this evening she did not come, and she is still not home as the light fades. This has never happened before, and I know there is something very wrong.
Oh, I’d like to say I’m sure she’s ok, just out on a dog adventure, but that’s not Indo. At 10, she’s set in her routine on the farm. She hangs out on the porch most often now, waiting for a visitor or my call to head to the back field. I’m using present tense now, and it will be hard to change that mindset. Right now, my partner is out walking the land searching, looking everywhere in the last light, and I thank him for it. I can’t. I can’t go looking when she could be on her way to the front porch right now. I have to be here, just in case. Oh dog, just in case. Please come home.
She never liked the 4th of July, so this is fitting. Gunshots and explosions, like fireworks, always put her on edge. I don’t know exactly why, she’d never had a negative experience with either to put her on edge, but the sound is loud enough, and her wolf/dingo genes seemed to be overriding with a more primitive survival instinct, which no training could remove from her. I had planned to take her out to the mountains for that night this year, to get her away from the worst of it. Last year she paced in my room, and I felt horrible for her. She won’t have to be nervous about it ever again, and I am glad for that.
I’m also glad that Indo went while still healthy and spry. I would have struggled watching her grow stiff and old, not knowing when the pain would become too much, or a bad fall would require putting her down. That would have been so much worse. Today, my dog lost her luck, and most likely became a meal for a bobcat. It’s the strongest case going right now in my mind, as nothing short of that would keep her from me and her evening kibble. Oh Indonesia! Her exchange for freedom was the risk of predation, but she’s been living in Washington for almost a decade now with no problem, ever. The threat of her being killed by a large cat had not crossed my mind.
I was right there in the yard working this afternoon when Indo disappeared. I did not notice she was not around until my partner arrived home from work, and no dog showed up to greet him. He was the first to remark on her absence and ask where she was. I began calling. Nothing, and still nothing. It’s unheard of, which is why I think she is really gone. Let’s pray she is not, that I am wrong, and that tomorrow, I can write about how this was all a bad dream and things are fine. My little wet nose is home and all is well, but I think not, and my heart is heavy with the realization that I have lost my closest friend, and longest running partner in this life so far.
Indonesia will always be with me in spirit, and the wonderful life we’ve lived together comforts me with warm memories of the good times we shared. I will always hold my dog close in my thoughts, as she was my greatest advocate, and most honest, unconditionally supportive friend. I still clearly see her sitting before me with head cocked, ears pricked, and tail wagging. As the darkness closes in with the last light of day gone into the first night without my best friend there to keep me company, I take heart in knowing she is there in spirit, and always will be.
****Update**** Indo was found several miles from home on the run after being scared away by fireworks. She happily went home with the nice man who had a Rhodesian Ridgeback pup of his own and thought Indo looked a little lost. Through social media, a neighbor recognized the dog and gave the man my address to get her home safe. Her microchip information was also used to trace me as the owner. What a blessing to have a second chance with my most beloved friend. Gratitude to all the people out there who reach out and help lost ones come home.