Memories of Indy

For the next couple days, I would like to profile the pets that I grew up with before my guide dog. Even though the pets I grew up with did not quite have the standards for obedience and manners required of a guide dog, they gave me many happy childhood memories, and I believe that growing up with pets who more than made up for their occasional disobedience with love, companionship and loyalty definitely gave me a wonderful foundation of compassion, and patience which has grown even stronger every day with my guide dog.
     My family got our first dog when I was four years old. She was a white German Shepherd whom we named Indy because we got her from a breeder in Indiana. When we first brought Indy home, she was an eight week old puppy who was so small she could not walk up steps by herself, and when my older brother camped out in a tent in our backyard with some friends, she could walk under the tent. But that didn’t last long! Only a few months later, she was so big that when she jumped on me in puppy excitement, she knocked me off my feet, and neighbors said she looked more like a wolf than a dog. And every time an ambulance drove by blasting the sirens, she would howl like a wolf too. By the time she was fullgrown, I think she was about five feet long, and weighed almost 100 pounds.
     For the first couple years we had Indy, I was kind of afraid of her. Like I said before, she would occasionally knock me down when she jumped on me in her excitement, and of course, puppies love little kids and cannot resist suffocating them with doggy kisses. It was too overwhelming for a quiet four-year-old like me! But once she outgrew puppyhood and settled down, I loved to spend hours just sitting next to her and petting her.
     On one memorable occasion when I was six or seven years old, the whole family wanted to watch a movie. Of course, since I am the youngest, my older siblings always played the seniority card, and claimed the comfortable couch, so that night, rather than sitting in a less comfortable chair, I decided to lay on the floor, using Indy as a pillow. Indy didn’t seem to mind this arrangement at all, and pretty soon, we were both fast asleep. I think my parents still have a picture of this scene.
     When Indy was alive, our family didn’t have to worry about animals in our yard, or unwelcome strangers coming to our house. She defended our house with a bark so loud and fierce that even after living with Indy for eight years, and even though I could expect her to bark when the doorbell rang, without fail, I jumped out of my skin every time she barked. My mom loves to recount one particular story. My mom was sleeping, because she was working night shift at a hospital at the time, when she was woken up by Indy’s bark. She looked out the window and saw a man with an advertisement for lawncare service coming to the front door. When the man opened up the screen door to leave an advertisement, Indy went crazy, standing right on the other side of the main door barking fiercely. Even today, Mom can still picture the man dropping the advertisement as fast as he could and running for his life!
     But what stands out most in our family’s collective memory of Indy was her appetite for people food. You could not ever leave food unattended when she was around. If our family decided to retreat to the livingroom and leave the dishes on the table, without fail, you could hear Indy putting her front paws on a chair, and licking the plates. One time, I was eating a baked potato, when I left for just a minute. When I came back hoping to finish my potato, my plate had been licked so clean you would have thought it had been through the dishwasher! Another time, our family decided to spread a blanket on the livingroom floor and have pizza. Indy especially loved pizza, and became especially daring whenever we had it. I had just picked up a slice of pizza, and literally was about to take a bite, when Indy pounced, and swiped it right out of my hand! We honestly tried to train her; we took her to obedience school and practiced discipline fifteen minutes a day when she was a puppy, but Indy had a mind of her own (laugh).
     Even though Indy definitely could not have been a guide dog with such terrible table manners, she made for a wonderful loving pet, and that is all that matters. Sadly Indy only lived eight years. Big dogs like her generally don’t live as long. As much as I loved Indy, I didn’t fully comprehend how much she impacted me and our family until she was gone. I think Indy taught me to live every day to the fullest, and enjoy every minute of puppy love when a dog gives it to you because you don’t know how much time you will have together. Even on days when my guide dog is being naughty, I make sure to be kind and patient with him, and make sure he wags his tail at least once a day so that he will never doubt how much I love him.

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