First Dog Henry Holcomb dies at 13

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Gov. Eric Holcomb with First Dog Henry Holcomb in his Statehouse office. (Courtesy of the governor’s office)

First Dog Henry Holcomb, a trusted and longtime companion of Gov. Eric Holcomb and his family, has died.

The miniature schnauzer was 13.

“Henry, we were so lucky to be your humans. You will always be our very good boy,” First Lady Janet Holcomb said in a written statement.

Gov. Holcomb said Henry “brought so much joy to Hoosiers young and old, two-legged and four-legged alike.”

“He was more than a family pet to me and Janet as he gifted us daily with his funny, loving ways that we’ll treasure forever,” the governor said in a late Monday night statement. “We thank everyone for embracing Henry and following his journey as the First Dog of Indiana. It warmed our hearts as we travelled the state to be met with the question, “How’s Henry?”

“Henry’s exuberance for life will be missed, and his place in our hearts never replaced.”

Henry was an Indiana celebrity of sorts, with his own social media accounts. And he accompanied his owners, especially First Lady Janet Holcomb, to many public events.

“Today we said goodbye to our best friend, First Dog Henry. We are profoundly saddened by this loss, but memories of sharing our very special boy with his thousands of fans and followers will forever bring smiles to our faces, and joy to our hearts,” Janet Holcomb said.

She said from the first day they met Henry, he captured their hears with an expressive face, sweet snuggles and sassy attitude.

“Since that day, Henry has seldom been more than six feet away from me, and it often seemed his primary goal in life was being part of my shadow. When he wasn’t with me, he was with Eric. Henry attended countless meetings, interviews, and waited patiently and quietly under the table during official state dinners. He participated in dozens of parades, visited every corner of the state, and knew how to find his dad’s office in the statehouse without human assistance,” Janet Holcomb said.

Henry once served as a ring bearer while dressed in a tuxedo. When not working, he loved to hike in state parks. Then Holcomb was elected governor in 2016. During Halloween he also dressed as a dinosaur and basketball hoop.

“Life changed dramatically in 2016, and Henry took it all in stride.  He started his social media accounts to keep Hoosiers up to date on his busy First Dog schedule, and life at the Governor’s residence. We knew it would be a hit, and it was,” Janet Holcomb said.

At one point, Henry survived a terrible dog attack as well as surgeries, a prolonged life-threatening auto immune disorder and bladder stones.

“No matter how sick he was, he refused to give up until age and compounding health challenges became too much,” Janet Holcomb said. “It came as no surprise to Eric or me that people across the state and around the world fell in love with our beloved Henry. When we look back on our tenure in office, the memories will forever be intertwined with our Henry, and the hundreds of people who have told us that he made them smile.”

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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