On June 27, 2017 at around 11am, Indonesia, friend, dog, and companion of Liz Crain for 11 years died. She had been fighting lymphoma cancer since October of 2016. Our vet, Dr. Buchholtz, of Cascade Animal Clinic, said Indo had lived far beyond any expectations of a dog fighting that kind of cancer. I believe that was a true testament to her wonderful upbringing and a life fully lived. It is a great relief that the dog is no longer struggling to keep up normal appearances when inside, she was being eaten alive. For me, her owner, things are sad, but I’m so grateful we had such wonderful times together. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my friend and some of the amazing moments we shared.
Indonesia was born in as Windham County Animal Shelter to a boarder collie cross. She was the first pup to greet me when I walked into the kennel and looked in on the young litter. I knew then I had found a very special friend.
As a young dog, Indo spent some time living with me in Marlboro Vermont where we ran around in the woods a lot and enjoyed taking college students into the woods on week long wilderness skills trips. Later, this passion for outdoor education would lead us to Washington State, but first, a stop over in Colorado.
Indo loved hiking up mountains and carrying her pack. She was a working dog, following me on rides into the back country and keeping a watchful eye out for bears and unwanted visitors. It was amazing to watch her move around the horses and know where to be on a trail as we galloped across The Rocky Mountains. In the picture below, she’s hiding on the other side of my horse, but right there with us, keeping up and loving the mountain views. She would know when to be out front keeping oncoming hikers aware of out approach, or dragging in back to keep mountain bikers from coming up behind us too quick and spooking the horses.
Indo loved the mountains, and felt right at home when we moved to Washington in 2008.
She would follow me up when I skied the back country, and keep up down very steep mountain sides, sometimes in powder that was over her head. Indonesia was not a big fan of water, but she loved snow. I was so thankful this final winter we had together, to have one last day of skiing with her at Leafhopper Farm. She was a puppy again, flying across the white blanket over the land with wagging tail and panting smile. It was such a gift.
Indonesia and I also had the chance to spend three seasons at Scanlon Lake in The Okanawa, WA. There we spend many a happy day (and night) tracking around the land and enjoying the most freedom we’d ever had in out lives. No leashes, no rules; just a pack, a friend, and some great outdoor wildness. It was paradise on The Lime Belt.
Indo loved sitting in the deer brush and sage, watching and listening silently. She was so good at sit spot, and often shared them with me. It was always so amazing to see hwo calm and collected she was, no matter where we went, even in cities, though she did not like being leashed. Who does? People would often comment on who well trained she was. I took her to a few obedience classes, mainly to socialize her with other dogs and people, but she really trained me. I learned that sensitivity is something to watch and have patience with. That when I didn’t understand something I should wait and watch, ask questions and ponder, rather than force an answer or give up and walk away.
My dog was the most wonderful teacher. She always showed me patience, bravery, and honest self. That’s what makes loosing her so hard; I’ve lost that reflection of myself, and I won’t ever see it in her eyes again. At least, not in this life, but she is in my memories, and I’ll always have that to carry with me.
This is my favorite picture of my dog. It was taken in June of 2012, the last few weeks of our time at Scanlon Lake. Later that summer in Colorado, I was to learn that my friend Chris, who owned the property at Scanlon, had died unexpectedly, and the plan for Indo and I to return in the fall to remain in The Lime Belt, had changed. We would spend another year as nomads, and eventually end up on Leafhopper Farm.
Indo loved to sit out on the porch in a little nook that looked down the drive. She would bark an alert to every one who came to the house, and often greeted people on the road to the house. On the morning I knew it was time to say good-bye, I sat with her by her spot and watch the sun come up as birds sang out. It was the most beautiful parting gift my friend could give, reminding me of how much richness there is in this life for me to enjoy, and offering one final sit, being still together. I have to end my reflections here, as I’m longing to go sit with her right now and the tears are making it hard to see what I’m typing.
A final shout out to everyone in Indonesia’s life while she was with us. Each of you who knew her, took care of her while I was traveling, lived with her, or just knew her as that little black and white spotted dog that hung out with Liz Crain, thank you. Thank you for knowing Indo and loving her. She gives a tail wag to you all. We will all miss you Indonesia, thanks so much for all the kisses!