My first dog, Candy, died on the Fourth of July in 1995. It was sudden and unexpected. By the fall I took it upon myself to decide for my parents that they needed another dog. I went to a shelter in Overland Park, Kansas and met two 10 month-old purebred schnauzers, a brother and sister. My intention was to bring the little girl dog home at Thanksgiving. But when I went to pick her up, she had already been adopted. Her brother was pretty cute, though, and shyly looked at me through the kennel door. So I paid his fee, and we drove together back to Russell. He was scared and shaking for the entire four-hour trip.
When we got home, one of the first things he did was take one of Candy’s toys that my dad had saved. I’m not sure my dad was too thrilled with the prospect of a replacement for Candy, but Scout, as Dad called him, wouldn’t let anyone not like him. He was a sweet and fun dog, impeccably trained, and had boundless energy.
Through the years Scout became known for his ability to get a good five feet of air when catching a tennis ball thrown against the fireplace. Also for peeing on every fencepost, tree, mailbox, bush, driveway, and fire hydrant while on a walk. He cultivated friendships with neighborhood dogs, particularly Oreo, a not-too-bright black and white beagle who lived two houses down, and would show up periodically at our back door. Scout was an escape artist. Given the slightest chance, would be off like a shot and would spend the next 45 minutes, free as a bird, exploring the neighborhood.
While Candy was a beautiful and cooperative dog to photograph, Scout looked like a startled psychopath in nearly every picture, the camera bringing out a green reflection in his eyes. Scout was a beast at basketball. What he lacked in shooting ability, he made up for with tenacious defense. You couldn’t dribble past him. He loved nothing more than to chase and chew up an empty water bottle, or go on a mission to destroy a cardboard box.
It’s been a long time since Scoutie could jump for a ball, or had the enthusiasm for tearing apart a stuffed animal. But that didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to him for the last time when I left the house on Sunday. I knew he didn’t have much longer.
My parents made the difficult decision to say goodbye to him peacefully today. I hope he’s marking his territory up in a heaven somewhere right now. You were a good dog, Scout.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011