Thursday, July 09, 2015


This is as close to looking at you as you are going to get (February 2013)
It all started so unexpectedly, as so many true relationships do.  Things in my life were fairly stable, I had a decent job, the kids were healthy and as happy as you could expect 4 children to be in a single father household.  I think it was a Tuesday night, because if I remember correctly that was the night my middle son had his cub scout meetings.  He was a first year webelo at the time, and part of what they did in the spring was to visit various scout troops in order to help them decide which one they would want to join when they crossed over the next February.

I remember my daughter was running around, getting into things, and somehow got a minor burn on her arm from being careless with one of the activities.  And then he came in.

Now it wasn't dramatic or anything, and if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't have even notices this tiny puppy being carried into the church basement hall where the scout meetings were.  Of course everyone gathered round to hear the story.

The woman holding him said they were down in Kentucky visiting her aging mother, who still lived on the family farm, though she could barely take care of the house, let alone the land.  Well some idiot had a dog who just had pups - he saw this farm and thought 'well farms can always use dogs', so dumped the mother and her litter and drove off.

Of course this grandmother couldn't take care of them, so the family brought them back to West Carrollton.  They had actually managed to successfully given away both the mother and all but this last pup.  Of course the three of my kids with me (my oldest son was at home doing homework) all asked if they could keep him.  I was raised with a dog, and I had not had one since my wife and I split up a few years before (she took our dog in the divorce).

My heart melted, and a new member joined our family that night, appropriately named "Scout".

I had never raised a puppy as an adult before (even the ones my parents got when I was in high school were theirs - I didn't raise or train them).  I admit, I probably made a lot of mistakes with that tiny bundle of fur.  I drove home with him on one arm - so tiny it was nothing to hold him while steering.  As I turned into the apartment complex, I noticed the vet office that was just across from the entrance - not two blocks from our apartment.

I got some puppy chow, water and food dish, collar and leash for him.  I put him in the downstairs half bath for most of his house breaking time - of course had to listen to him cry and whine for hours that first night.  The next day I walked him to the vet - less than two blocks.  Unfortunately I didn't think of car training him, so after his ride home he didn't get into a car again for a year since the vet was so close (like I said, I made some mistakes).  Of course he turned out to be so anemic from the horrible flea infestation he had that the vet was surprised he was alive, but we got that cleared up, all his shots etc, and talked to the vet about getting him fixed - and when we could do that.  A few months later he was fixed.

I remember taking him out morning and evenings to house break him.  Standing in the rain as he did his duty, but finally that was done.

When I bought our house, he loved the fact he now had a yard, even though I did have to stake down the fence in a few places to keep his adventurous spirit contained.  He quickly adapted to his role of protector of the family, and kept us safe from the varmints that would dare to enter his domain.  Two rabbits, a baby possum, four kittens and a woodchuck all succumbed to his protective skills.  A raccoon, bat and the squirrels all evaded him however.

When Diane and I got married and she moved down, Scout immediately became her dog.  We used to joke that he didn't like me at all - as whenever we came home, he would rush to the door and sniff everyone but me.  Yes, sometimes he could be an ass, but we all loved him.

Diane finally got him used to riding in the car, though he never really enjoyed it.  But at least he stopped getting carsick every time.  He did love going to the local dog parks, just to circle around the perimeter and check for new smells, always leaving his little tag to say "I was here".  He never was very social with other dogs though.  It was always funny to watch him, as he would of course sniff their butts, but when they went to sniff them he would move away with this look like "what are you doing with my butt?".  (Very similar to the look Diane said he got when he had gas - he would seem to be surprised by it).

He loved to watch the world out the living room or bedroom windows.  He pretty much took over our old couch, pulling out the stuffing to perfectly fit him in the corner.  We were trained pretty well, so that we gave him his nightly (then daily, then seemingly hourly) treats on schedule.  He would devour a piece of rawhide in a matter of minutes.  And don't ever take off his collar - he hated being 'naked'.  If you took it off for any reason he would freeze (which is the only way we got him in a couple of family pictures :-) ), and then when you put is back on he'd walk off in a huff, ignoring you until he got over being mad (which was usually until you had food).

The past year we could see that he was getting old.  He started having a hard time with the stairs, and of course our house has four levels.  He also was getting lots of various lumps all over.  What started to concern us however was a large lump between his back legs (since he had the lumps that belonged there removed many years ago).  The vet examined him, and then ran some tests, and it turned out it was cancerous.  Unfortunately any treatment was not guaranteed to extend his life any, nor would it be pleasant for him.  In addition due to his older heart, he might not even make it through any surgery.  He didn't know he was sick, so we just decided to keep him happy as long as he wasn't suffering.

Well the lump slowly grew bigger, until it was the size of a softball.  But he didn't seem to even notice it.  Then a couple of weeks ago there were a couple of drops of blood and some fluid seeping from it.  This started to grow bigger, and when we called the vet she said that the tumor was necrotizing, and that was the final stages.  On Tuesday we talked to our vet, we thought it was time.  We found a vet that makes house calls, which we thought would be better since he never liked going to the vet, nor did he want to get in the car at all any more.   We didn't want him scared for his trip over the Rainbow Bridge.  So we scheduled it for Friday, so that they boys could be here to say goodbye.

For me one of the hardest points leading up to the end was the waiting.  Especially as his deterioration rapidly got worse, the necrotic tumor pushing out.  At first I my feelings had been that I was being selfish because I was uncomfortable, but that quickly changed to feeling like we waited too long.  Tuesday night after I got home from work he was noticeably worse.  Wednesday he was much slower moving at all, and spent most of the day sleeping.  I was shocked at how big the tumor had gotten and how much it had pushed out.  Oh, and the smell.  I was getting really worried - he didn't want to move or go out even.  Then this morning he wouldn't even get up when my son and I went to work.  Diane was only able to get him to the landing on the stairs, and it wasn't until I returned home that we got him outside (boy did he have to pee!)  We knew that we had waited too long, so called the vet and he made it out as soon as he could.  We had scheduled it for our convenience, but it was his needs that we needed to take care of now.

When the vet arrived, Scout actually got up to sniff him.  The vet did confirm that with his heart murmur he would not have survived surgery had we tried to remove the cancer.   He went calmly and quietly, and one of the boys did make it in time to say goodbye.  The vet takes care of the cremation so that is one less worry.  There will always be a part of him in the house, because we will never get all the dog hair cleaned up.

Thursday, July 9th at 10:18 am, we said goodbye to my faithful pet, friend and family member.  Unfortunately only one of the boys could be there.  Scout has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and isn't suffering any more.