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Henry Holcomb, Indiana's 'First Dog,' celebrates 10th birthday
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Henry Holcomb, Indiana's 'First Dog,' celebrates 10th birthday

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The happiest dog in the state of Indiana, especially when he has squirrels to chase, celebrated a milestone birthday this week — the big 1-0.

Henry Holcomb, Indiana's first dog, is a miniature schnauzer who has become something of a state mascot, thanks to his frequent appearances alongside "Dad and Mom," also known as Gov. Eric Holcomb and Janet Holcomb, Indiana's first lady.

The birthday celebration for Indiana's canine-in-chief was toned down this year, due in part to the Holcombs being quarantined following close contact with state police officers who recently tested positive for COVID-19. The Holcombs both tested negative.

But Hen-dog, as he's known among friends, still managed to commemorate the big day by videoconferencing with famous pup pal Butler Blue IV, the English bulldog mascot of Indianapolis' Butler University, and of course extra "scratchies" from Mom and Dad at the Governor's Residence.

The good birthday boy also participated in another exclusive "interview" with The Times, some three-and-a-half years after Henry Holcomb achieved statewide fame by barking about his experiences as first dog to the Northwest Indiana publication.

In a statement the governor's office insists came from Henry himself, he said he's honored to have the opportunity to continue serving Hoosiers as Indiana's first dog.

"It goes without saying that 2020 has been a tough year — and my primary purpose is to put a smile on Hoosiers' faces," Henry said.

"I combine my pawsitivity with my social media pupularity to share important messages, whether it be encouraging Hoosiers to stay safe in a pandemic, welcoming new Indiana businesses like Blue Buffalo and Saturn Petcare, or promoting pet adoption. But perhaps most importantly, my main role as first dog is to encourage people to not shed their sense of humor."

More than 10,000 people across Indiana and around the world follow @FirstDogHenry on social media platforms, where his sense of humor clearly comes through.

Whether it's a short poem (and photos) about the joy of laying in autumn leaves, a picture of Henry hiding under the covers on a rainy Monday morning, pun-tastic humor, inspirational messages, or updates on the never-ending squirrel chase, Henry covers it all.

In response, people and their pets engage with Henry online. Last year that even led to a Henry birthday celebration attended by other famous Indiana dogs as well as five dogs up for adoption at Indy Humane that all found fur-ever homes following the party.

"I usually like to have my dog friends over to celebrate my birthday, but obviously things had to be a little different this year," Henry said.

"I did a Zoom call with my BFF Butler Blue, and I was excited to log onto my social media accounts — follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and see all the incredible virtual birthday wishes from my social media pet pals and their humans."

Janet Holcomb said Henry also celebrated his 10th birthday on Tuesday with an extra-long walk and some of his favorite foods, including a small piece of fresh fish. He also got a little whipped cream for dessert.

She said Henry is a perfect mascot for Indiana "because he is a true Hoosier at heart."

"He is friendly, welcoming and eternally optimistic. He works hard and takes his job of first dog very seriously. His responsibilities include watching over his Mom and Dad, greeting visitors at the Governor's Residence, keeping the squirrels at bay, and in non-COVID times, traveling and attending events."

Henry also has had a paw in the outcome of gubernatorial decisions. In 2018, Lake Superior Judge Elizabeth Tavitas thanked Henry for helping her remain calm prior to her interview with the governor to fill a vacant seat on the Indiana Court of Appeals, which she got.

"When I walked into the meeting room, Henry greeted me with a wag of his tail and a look in his eyes like 'please pet me.' And I thought, 'Oh goodness, this is going to go OK now,' because I know as a dog lover that if your dog doesn't like somebody — watch out."

Gov. Holcomb insisted it was Tavitas' judicial temperament honed over 12 years on the Lake County bench, as well as her understanding of the law and the Constitution, juvenile court experience, past work as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and University of Notre Dame education that won her the job on the 15-judge appellate court.

"Henry didn't make the decision. But Henry approved it," he said with a chuckle.

Hoosiers interested in bringing a little Henry into their homes can search online for Henry Holcomb coloring pages, print some off and color in a "Flat Henry" of their own.

WATCH NOW: Henry Holcomb birthday chat with Butler Blue IV

WATCH NOW: Henry Holcomb birthday friends slideshow

Henry Holcomb holiday coloring page

Gallery: 'First Dog' Henry Holcomb coaches rescue pup Pistachio in preparation for Puppy Bowl XV

14 times Indiana's first dog Henry Holcomb was super precious in October 2017

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