Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Her Name Was Scout
We got her to try to help ease the transition in a tough move. We already had the best dog in the world; his name was Gus. But Gus' puppy days were long behind him and it seemed like a great idea: a puppy would not only be a terrific playmate for two young kids, but might give Gus a new lease on life.
My daughter desperately wanted a puppy; Gus had been with us long before either of our kids were born. So we went to the local shelter's adoption fair and there she was: a little Lab/Border Collie cross with the fastest tongue in the East. We wrapped her up in a towel and brought her home. By the time we got there, she had a name - Scout.
Gus had infinite patience with her as she nipped at his ears and growled at his tail. I think he may have snickered when she got caught in the sunroom because her little legs couldn't reach up one step to get into the family room.
We tried to take pictures of her, but she was so black that she was hard to see in the tall grass. She had to grow to her full size before we could get a decent picture.
She's gone by many names, though Miss Pooh seemed to be one of our most frequent nicknames. She was also Nurse Jane Blackdog, as she had a talent for snuggling up against anyone who appeared to need care.
She loved to burst out of the back door and race in mad, ecstatic circles around us when she was feeling particularly full of herself. "Happy dog" we called it. She also piled into snowdrifts with her shoulder and push herself through them on her side. That was "snowfish".
She could play basketball with my son for hours. She'd leap up and pull down the ball with both paws as it bounced, then chase after it, trying to grab it with her teeth. She never managed to do it. But she never tired of trying.
Pooh was a pain in the ass on a leash. I have to say it. She was always so happy to get out, so anxious to see what was out in the world that the first half a mile was like playing tug of war. But she eventually settled down, realizing that she was going to be out for a nice, long while and would happily trot alongside you.
Off the leash, she could be an angel or a devil. She might stay close, or she might decide she just had to chase the neighbor's cat. Or poop in his yard. Or find a body of standing water, no matter how filthy, and jump in.
She proved it was possible to have two perfect dogs in one lifetime. She never, ever threatened anyone. She used to bare her teeth when I trimmed her toenails (she hated that), but her tongue would flick out between her teeth and she'd lick me as she made ferocious faces.
Scout was afraid of thunder. She'd come running, shivering, and hide her head when it stormed. She was afraid of spray bottles (my fault- I thought spritzing her when we tried to house train her was a gentle form of correction - it scarred her for life). We couldn't iron - she was terrified of the spray starch.
When my son went away to college, he wrote and said he missed one thing more than anything - he missed seeing Scout. I took pictures and sent them.
I missed Scout - she stayed with the kids' dad. Her life was lonely sometimes, but the kids' grandfather is a kind soul and he decided she'd make a great shop dog. In her last few years he came to pick her up a few times a week and brought her to his antique shop. She loved going to work.
I got a note from my daughter tonight that Scout was gone. I called. She had a tumor, she said. It burst. It was either surgery she wouldn't survive or putting her to sleep. My daughter said she stayed with her. I so wish I could have been there.
Scout loved jamming herself between your legs and forcing you to scratch her butt. She'd stand there for hours if you'd put up with it. She loved chewing. She went through chew bones made for wolves - she'd destroy them. But she never chewed furniture. She never wrecked anything. She never broke anything.
Except maybe my heart.