In 2002, the year I got married, I not only became a wife and stepmom, but it was also the year I became a dog mom. I had my own mortgage business at the time, when in November, a client called and was trying to find homes for 5 puppies who had been born under her neighbor’s house. She had figured with my business, I would have many resources to help find families to provide loving homes to these stray pups.
We went to see the puppies and fell in love. They were little bundles of golden fur, and one had a black smudge along his tail. This darling one had been returned by another who decided a puppy was too much work. How lucky for us! We had much to be grateful for, when right around Thanksgiving, we brought him home and the boys christened him Scout. Because we shared the boys with their mom, Scout has been the closest thing to having my own child I’ve ever known. I adored this little, six-pound, furry fluff of love, spending hours with him, even working from home to be with him. We became inseparable, and he would find me anywhere. Scout was my shadow. I called him my Puppy-baby, Scooter Scout (as he’d slide across the floor when racing to see me), and Best Puppy on the Planet. He truly was this and more to me.
For nearly 15 years, I’ve cherished every moment I’ve had with Scout. When just a mere puppy, he was diagnosed with kidney dysfunction, we were told he’d be lucky to live to 2 years of age… He defied the odds and even exceeded the 8 years that I had hoped and prayed for, thinking that generous for a large dog.
We hiked nearly every day, until osteoarthritis prevented our quests up Cherry Canyon. He knew the trail well and had given chase to deer and rabbits, thankfully never going after the ever-present rattlers or meandering into the Poison Oak. It was here that he most enjoyed being a dog. And where I most enjoyed being his companion. Age and time, however, was doing its steady march forward. Sometime last summer, while hiking, I discovered he was losing his hearing.
By fall, the osteoarthritis was preventing him from hiking and the kidney disease was full blown. The protocol of holistic herbs and special diet had now been further complicated by numerous pills to aid all these conditions. Getting him to take them was becoming trickier. The things I used to entice him, were the exact things that complicated his kidney disease…
When Scout had a stroke near the end of June, I knew our time together was nearing its end. Yet, this miracle pup made a seemingly full recovery from this neurological event and I began to hope he’d make it to his 15th birthday at the end of September and certainly to my birthday in early September.
Sometimes, wishes are not to be had… One morning in August, I made the soul crushing, yet willfully compassionate decision to end his time on earth. He wasn’t eating, and what little we did coax him to eat, he was unable to keep down… and yet his spirit still longed to be with me where ever I went. Sometime after 4 p.m. on a Thursday, Scout went off to the great beyond. And while my heart broke into a thousand pieces, there was also an aura of peace that surrounded us, in the shade of the mighty Oak tree in our backyard where he drew his last breath, held in my embrace.
Tears still flow uncontrollably, and I struggle to embrace life without my best friend… I’ve been soothed by going through photos of the years together and find solace in knowing he’s no longer in pain or suffering, but the hole of his absence is still vast in my heart. The days after he was gone were hard, especially when the doorbell rang one morning to a box with his ashes.
I ponder the paradox of pain and peace that comes when a long-lived loved one dies… and the emptiness of no longer having them near. And yet, I still feel him with me. Little moments of synchronicities, like a hummingbird floating over my shoulder, as my husband and I toasted to his life and then a mourning dove circled overhead… Or the gal on the plane who stood waiting near me for a seat, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “The Wandering Dog”.
The night after Scout had gone, I had a vivid and startling dream, where a Raven was flying towards our French door windows and seeking to give me a message from Scout. “I’m fine, I’m always with you and at peace” is the message the Raven had for me… And while I will wander on through my waves of grief, I can also sense the grace and mercy of the love we shared, knowing it will always be with me.
-In loving memory of Scout Wyatt, September 2002 to August 10, 2017