It’s been a month today… a month since a light went out in our home. It feels unsettled here… quiet… something that should be here is missing. My heart hurts. I cry almost every day when I remember that something is off. One month ago today, our precious little Scout dog, our sweet girl we cared for and loved for more than sixteen years passed away.
I have received a lot of special and unusual gifts in my teaching career. I have a box of notes and gifts that I will treasure forever, given to me with love from students who really cared about me. Perhaps the most special gift I ever received was Scout. One of my students who raised dachshunds had a litter that would be ready in the fall of 2006. She asked if it would be ok to give me one as a gift to be a companion for our rescue dachshund, Ella. The answer was a resounding YES!
On the night of our fall concert at school, the student walked in with a sweet, sleepy ball of fur with a bow on her head. Scout was the tiniest, most precious thing we had ever laid our eyes on. From that moment on, our hearts were filled because of her sweet presence in our home. In those first days, we carted her to the pumpkin patch, plopping her on top of pumpkins that were three times her size. She went to work with Jeff and slept in a little circle on top of his desk. She laid beside our bed and cried all night, while Jeff laid his arm over the side and petted her. But it didn’t take long for her to acclimate to our little family.
Soon she was learning from her big sister how to be a good girl and trying to play, though Ella didn’t seem impressed by puppy shenanigans. They became friends, in time, and made a sweet pair. When Ella left us a couple of years later, Scout had a difficult time adjusting. We never realized how much she needed a companion until Oscar came to live with us. They were quite the team. Scout got to be the alpha from the moment he arrived. They would chase each other at lightning speed, up and down the hallway. They would wrestle and play and sometimes cuddle… but not very often. Scout was too independent for snuggles with her brother. They were a fierce team for ten years, but then Oscar left us too, and Scout learned to be a quiet old lady, content to be with her mom and dad alone.
Scout was like her namesake, Scout Finch, in so many ways. She was fiercely independent, never wanting to do exactly what she was told. She was determined, working things out in her own way until she achieved her desired outcome. She was unusually intelligent, seeming at times as if she was plotting to take over the world. And ultimately, she was a good girl who loved us and brought us so much joy.
Scout enjoyed sleeping in sunbeams most of all. She was the master toy destroyer, pulling every inch of stuffing out of a new toy in less than ten minutes. She loved tennis balls and would pull all the fur off of them till they were bald and slimy… because she liked them that way. She loved to run back and forth during family corn hole games, chasing the bags till she collapsed with exhaustion. She enjoyed patrolling the yard, sniffing along the perimeter for hours. She loved playing in the snow, bounding through tall drifts and using her nose as a shovel.
Though I know Scout loved me, often smothering me, quite literally with her love… she was always a daddy’s girl. She followed Jeff wherever he would go. When he left the house, she would watch the door for him and was never truly happy till he was home again. She always wanted to be in his shadow.
Scout Dog. Girl Dog. Girl Scout. Scout-O-Ween. Scout-A-Licious. Old Lady. Grandma. Small One. We had so many names for our little girl… but Small One will always be the one that sticks in my heart.
Every single thing about Scout was special. Much like Mark Twain and Halley’s Comet, Scout entered and exited our lives in the same way. The first and the last time we ever held our sweet girl was a concert night.
We had sixteen sweet, wonderful years to love our girl. It wasn’t enough. A short summary doesn’t adequately describe how much she meant to us. I know that she wasn’t a person, but she was OUR baby. The house feels so still without her little feet tapping around.
People keep asking us if we will get another dog. Honestly, that question hurts a lot. I don’t want to even think about replacing our sweet girl. I know that time heals wounds, but for me, I don’t think I can handle loving something so much and losing it again. It’s just too painful. Being a mama to Ella, and Oscar, and Scout filled my heart with so much love.