By Tammy Vertrees
A couple of months after my old Lab Mosey crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I adopted a 60-lb New Mexican Border Mutt named Indiana Jones (yes… named after the adventurous archaeologist… who took his dog’s name…). To say that Indy is independent is an understatement. Like his namesake he’s handsome, charming, a bit of a rogue who gets in trouble but always seems to get out of trouble. His whole life is about exploring. And eating.
Shortly afterward I adopted another dog, a female Lab/Greyhound mix named Velvet, aka “Velcro” because of the way she sticks to me when we walk. She’s the Yin to Indy’s Yang. Sweet as can be unless someone’s coming down the driveway, at which point it’s her job to murder the intruder while Indy does an exuberant “hey, new friends!” dance.
One early morning before breakfast my roommate and I were walking the dogs through the neighborhood. Back then, living a small rural town, nobody cared if a dog was on-leash or not and Indy being Indy, preferred “not.”
Indy was off doing his doggy patrol as usual while we walked the quarter mile toward town to the stop sign at the end of our road. We got to the turnaround point and Indy was still out of sight, doing dog stuff. No problem. He’d show up eventually, especially since he hadn’t been fed yet.
We turned and started walking toward home, with “Velcro” still faithfully at my heels. It was a beautiful spring morning and my roommate and I were chatting away about the mountain bike ride we had planned that afternoon… listening to the cheerful spring bird songs… enjoying the warmth of the sunshine…
We were almost to the house when suddenly Indy came trotting by from behind us, proud as can be, tail straight in the air, carrying a brand-new loaf of bread, still wrapped and intact.
Well, we lost it laughing.
Where on Earth did Indy manage to find a whole new loaf of bread? Did someone drop it on their driveway? Did he get into someone’s open car and help himself? Did he break into their house and steal it off the counter? Did he dumpster-dive for it? Being a former street dog from Las Cruces, Indy could and would do any of these things for food.
We were doubled over in laughter watching Indy proudly trot down the driveway with his prize and settle down under the shade of our big elm tree to enjoy his feast.
Indy is food motivated like crazy (the sound of his bowl on the kitchen floor can bring him running from the back pasture) but unlike a lot of dogs, Indy did not tear into the loaf and devour it in a single eager gulp.
This prize was to be savored. He opened the bag with surgical precision and removed and delicately ate one slice at a time. One slice at a time. I’ve never seen a dog with such restraint or precision. A true foodie who fully experiences his dish!
By the time I got to him, Indy had eaten about a quarter of the loaf. My roommate and I were still laughing and I reached down for the bread, expecting Indy to grab his loaf and run off but he let me take it. He was full by now, which is the only reason he cheerfully relinquished his prize to me. That, or he knew he was busted? Either way, sharing is caring!
I looked the bread over. Perfectly fresh, and with just a small hole in the bag through which Indy was pulling individual slices. It wasn’t even dog-slobbered.
I looked at my roommate… and said, “Should we make French Toast?” Which we did. We even made French Toast for the dogs, and you would have thought Indy was starving because he inhaled his.
I never did find out where Indy got the bread but for months afterward I carried a five dollar bill every time we did our morning walk, just in case someone mentioned a missing loaf of bread.
Since then, Indy has gone shopping two more times, to my knowledge. There could be more instances in which the groceries didn’t make it home. I mean, I’ve ordered take-out pizza that didn’t make it out of the car, so…
Indy’s next shopping expedition was a summertime adventure that involved a half-finished melted frosty drink in one of those domed-lid cups with a hole for the straw. That one was hard to carry (lid half-off, held delicately by the rim) and the melted ice cream was kind of splashy at a dog-trot. Indy ended up wearing a good bit of ice cream on his chest. Delicious as it was, that episode earned him a bath.
The third time was another mystery, this time while we walked through a different part of town.
Again Indy came trotting from behind me just as we were almost home. I had no idea which house or car or whatever he got into, or how long he’d been carrying this prize.
Just like before, Indy trotted by, proudly carrying a sandwich-sized Pyrex container with a plastic lid. I don’t know how he did it but he was carrying it by the tiny little pull tab in the corner. He kept dropping it, so I picked it up and carried it for him.
Inside was a breaded pork chop. Somebody’s lunch, I’m guessing, but the mystery of where Indy scavenged a pork chop intrigues me to this day.
I cut up the pork chop and fed it to Indy and Velvet for dinner.
And once again I carried five bucks in my pocket for months, waiting for someone to speak wonderingly about their missing pork chop in a Pyrex container that mysteriously vanished from… where?
What would you do, if you were a dog? Where would you get such a treasure? I tried putting myself into Indy’s head but I will probably never know.
These days, we live more of a leashed life as the town has grown, so there aren’t as many opportunities for Indy to “shop.”
But if I could just send Indy to the store with a note and a twenty on his collar, I wonder what he would bring home…
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