“To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.”
A month shy of five years ago, Emmalie and I walked into the animal shelter in Oceanside, California. We had been married since December, but since I was stationed in California with the Marines and Emmalie was going to college at Kansas State, this was the first time we had seen each other since just after the wedding. After Emmalie got settled into the apartment, we knew we needed a dog.
We walked around the shelter, looking at all the dogs needing a new home. They were all cute, but we hadn’t quite found one that made a connection. In the last row, however, we saw this skinny black dog with unique markings in his face. I remember asking myself if he was the one for us. We walked back around a little before taking this guy into the play yard. There, we learned about his great love for playing fetch and about how the shelter found him wandering in the desert with stickers and thorns in his paws and a patch of fur missing on his back. They could tell he had a tough past, but his fun-loving spirit persevered. Plus, he looked like quite the gentleman crossing his paws whenever he would lay down. The next morning we were filling out the paperwork to adopt this guy the shelter named “Cody”.
I don’t remember how we thought of the name “Scout”. Nonetheless, it fit perfectly for this dog who always was looking around, curious about what was going on. It was a rough first few months, though. Whoever had Scout before really did some damage as he was nervous around us at first, acted out, and just did things that you could tell only came from an abusive ownership. Without going into all the details, truthfully, the shelter’s offer of a “no-questions-asked” return policy crossed our minds once or twice. Yet, it just didn’t seem right giving up on this guy.
Man, I’m glad we didn’t.
And although it was a lot of work (we put in countless hours of positive reinforcement training and introducing him to new situations) in the end I think that’s what gave us a really strong connection and bond. It was hard, but after at least a year he really came around. He became a velcro dog and would follow us into every room of the house, he would come up and want to be pet on, and he became a bed hog. It really is amazing the transformation that can happen when you put all of your love into a dog that was only waiting for his second chance. I’m really glad that we were given the honor of being Scout’s second chance.
Scout turned out to be the best kind of dog for our traveling. He absolutely loved car rides, hiking, going to the beach, going to the park. You name it, he was always in for an adventure. He ended up going on several cross country trips with us, and he was always a champ.
Did you know that the 3 of us even lived in a camper in California for 7 months? Scout really thought that camper was his haha.
I know not everyone keeps their dogs inside the house with them or takes them everywhere they go. But to us, Scout was part of the family. His presence was a constant in our lives; A weight at the foot of the bed at night, a squeaky toy in the morning, a nose pushed up into the front seat on a car ride, eyes watching you waiting for you to drop a piece of food at dinnertime. There are so many memories the 3 of us made together the past 5 years and I can’t imagine any of them without our sweet Scout. He was the perfect addition and life is really empty without our best buddy here beside us. We lost a piece of our family and a piece of our hearts the day Scout left us.
The things we loved best:
-How excited he got when you would say the words “Hey Scout! Do you wanna……..” and boom before you even finished “….go for a walk” he was frantically searching around the house for the toy of choice to carry with him on our walk.
-Him being a vulture in the car going for a ride. He always had to stick his nose up in the front and watch where we were going.
-The way he gobbled down an ice cream cone in 10 seconds flat.
-How he always inched up as close as he could to your plate when it was dinnertime…..you know, just in case something were to fall off.
-His “you gotta be quicker than that” game he’d play with you with his toys. And the way his eyes rolled up to you daring you to try to grab the toy before he could……even though his mouth was just inches away from it and you both knew who was going to get it first.
-Ice cream cones from McDonald’s – he could swallow one whole like a ravenous beast!
-Playing fetch. Endlessly, tirelessly chasing a ball.
-Walks and exploring.
-The park…..to play more ball.
-Sleepovers with Elyse and Joseph when we were on a trip that we couldn’t take him with. He really enjoyed antagonizing their cat, Ger.
-Chasing barn cats on the farm…..although they always outsmarted him.
-His squeaky bone……and not failing to squeak it at us every morning to signal it was time to go play fetch.
-Swimming, something he didn’t even know he loved at first.
-Stealing your spot on the bed or couch the moment you got up to go to the bathroom, he was very sneaky and very patient.
I don’t know what else to say. We really were a great trio and it ended so quickly. We got the news on Saturday that he would have months to live and Monday night the three of us were in the living room and he just died. He was a real pal. We will remember all the wonderful adventures we had and continually look forward to throwing the squeaky bone again with him.
“Be thou comforted, little dog; thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.”