I was working at Subway when my dad picked Scout up ten years ago.
He was picking me up after a rather long shift, and I nearly sat on top of her as I climbed in to the front seat. I remember how calm and friendly she was sitting there, just a little bundle of love and puppy breath, all nose and ears.
"Is she ours?!"
Of course she was. It was a dumb question and my dad made me feel silly for even asking. It's not like you just take a dog that damn precious on a trial. No, Scout was no trial dog, she was already a member of the family.
The older lab we had at the time, Katie, was my dog. Initially, we picked her up because Erick was dead-set on having a puppy. But as Katie aged and attached herself to the members of our family, it was pretty clear that she belonged to me. So when we introduced Scout to the family, I didn't think we would be particularly close. Katie already had that spot in my heart (and on my bed).
When Katie passed, less than a year after picking up Scout, I was already exceptionally close to the tiny ball of energy. Like Katie, Scout always had her nose to the ground and a tennis ball in her mouth. If she wasn't in the water fetching sticks, she was tossing her toys around for her own enjoyment, throwing and receiving all on her own. She had energy and spunk, and was exceptionally loyal and obedient.
Basically, she was ideal. The perfect dog. The kind of animal and friend that you spend a lifetime searching for and happen upon in only the most beautiful twists of fate.
Cynthia Rylant's book Dog Heaven is the sort of text you never want to read, but sometimes need.
And this Sunday is one of those days.
When I think of Scout, my mind goes right to our very first Thanksgiving with her in the family.
Black Friday, actually. My family decided to go shopping or were running errands or out on a drive. I can't seem to remember the precise reason I was the only one in the house. Regardless, I walked up the stairs from my room in search of some leftovers. When I reached the landing, however, and glanced over at the kitchen island, I noticed the foil and plate containing the stuffing and turkey was all askew. And there, just feet away, tail-wagging back and forth, paws splayed behind her like a frog, was Scout.
The only difference? Where her smiling face usually beamed was, instead, a turkey carcass, stuck on top of her head. The poor thing had gotten the turkey stuck on her head. It was straight out of A Christmas Story.
I think she was plumper in those two days following than she was at any other point in her life. She basically ate herself to near-death.
Over the fourth, I was lucky enough to see Scout in Walker. I can't help but think her efforts to hold on were for me. And for that, I will always be grateful.
For my baby Scout, my little perfect lab.
You were and will forever be the best.
And you will be missed beyond words.