In Memory of Scooter

When I was a foster Mom for homeless dogs, I had been given a pregnant dog who had been hit by a car and found beside the road with a broken leg. She was all settled into her new temporary home, with cast on a rear leg and had given birth to six precious puppies. Two days later, I got a call from the homeless dog agency telling me that a beautiful two year old English Cocker was homeless and needed a temporary home.

He was such a beautiful and good dog that surely he wouldn’t be with me but only for the weekend. The agency begged me to take this dog, as they were sure to find the Cocker a home within a very short time. I told the folks to bring the Cocker over and if he wouldn’t eat the puppies, he could stay, but only for the weekend. This Cocker looked at the puppies and, in a very aloof manner, just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. “Good dog!”

As I awakened the next morning, I felt a “presence” that I couldn’t understand. When I opened my eyes, I saw Scooter with his paws and those beautiful long ears draped across the side of my bed. His big brown eyes had been watching me sleep. When my eyes opened, his entire body wagged with jubilation and we were immediately best friends.

I pulled Scooter onto the bed and we hugged and snuggled and I was the recipient of the best dog kisses I’ve had to this day. It was as if he were telling me how much he wanted to wake up with me every day for the rest of his life. Early that very morning, I called the agency to tell them that Scooter had found the only home he would ever need. That happened fourteen years ago this week. Thank you Scooter for teaching me that when you love somebody and are happy to see them, you greet them by wagging your entire body.

I’ll never forget how much Scooter enjoyed going to the drive through at the bank. The tellers all knew him and would put dog treats in the slide out drawer as they took my deposit. They all delighted in watching Scooter literally leap out of the car into the drawer to retrieve his treat and then hop back in the car, and it wasn’t unusual for them to reward him three times for his antics. Imagine my surprise when someone else once had Scooter in their car and drove up to a fast food drive-through window, only to have Scooter sail through the drive-through window and land smack dab in the middle of a fast food restaurant. He was not rewarded there! Thank you Scooter for teaching me to make new friends everywhere you go and to eat with gusto.

Scooter was always a prissy dog and never wanted to be either wet or dirty. I remember taking him out on the boat (and of course he wore his fishing hat). When I’d beach the boat so we could go ashore, he would do everything in his power to jump as far off the boat as he could so as not to get his feet wet. When we’d go out in the mornings, he’d always try to stay on a hard surface so as to not get the morning dew on his feet. Thank you Scooter for teaching me to always be the best that I can be.

I’ll never forget our first Christmas in Georgia. I had worked for hours decorating the Christmas tree, only to have it topple and fall across the floor. He immediately went over to the tree to investigate what had happened and looked at me with those ever optimistic eyes that said “this too shall pass” and it was his ever eager and contagious attitude that helped me turn that into a Kodak moment. To this day, the picture of Scooter with his toppled Christmas tree adorns my refrigerator door. Thank you Scooter for teaching me to find humor in any obstacle that falls across my path and that regardless of how hopeless anything appears, it may be just a Kodak moment in disguise.

When Scooter was about twelve, he managed to rupture several discs and had spinal surgery. For weeks, it seemed as if he’d never walk again. His surgeon told me he needed non weight bearing exercise? to build up his atrophied muscles. Under the cloak of darkness at about 11 pm every night, I’d take Scooter to the neighborhood pool for a swim. He hated it. At the mere sight of that pool, his little lame legs would paddle in anticipation of being placed in the water.

When the pool closed for the season, I bought him a hot tub and he had a twice daily swim, complete with life vest, for weeks on end until he was ambulatory. I believe he has since forgiven me for those times, although for years afterward, if he saw the life vest he would duck his tail and run in the other direction. Had he only known that it was because of that hot tub that he was ABLE to run away.

Scooter showed more courage and determination during his rehabilitation than I could imagine. Sometimes our talents are discovered only through necessity. Thank you Scooter for teaching me to never EVER give up when faced with a seemingly impossible situation, as there is always a solution just around the next bend.

Recently, I saw Scooter try to chase a pine cone that was rolling in the wind in the driveway. Ever the eternal optimist, Scooter was captivated by that motion and all the promises of fun it could bring, only to be disappointed once he realized that it was merely a pine cone. Scooter, thank you so much for teaching me that life isn’t about the sometimes disappointing destination but the mere journey of getting there. Thank you for teaching me to savor every opportunity to meet a new friend or to discover a new opportunity that I never knew existed.

Scooter, I feel very blessed to have been able to spend the last fourteen years with you. You have been my constant and loyal companion and best friend. When I think about how much my life has been enriched by having you, it’s inconceivable to imagine otherwise.

Thank you Scooter for teaching me:
• To never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride
• To allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy
• When loved ones come home, always run to greet them
• When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience
• Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory
• Run, romp and play daily
• Eat with gusto and enthusiasm
• Be loyal
• If what you want what lies buried, dig until you find it
• When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently
• Thrive on attention and let people touch you
• Avoid biting when a simple growl will do
• On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree
• When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body
• No matter how often you are scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout; run right back and make friends
• Bond with your pack
• Delight in the simple joy of a long walk

Thank you my dear friend for having taught me all the survival skills I know. I shall miss you more than you can comprehend. The reciprocity of our adoration was abundantly obvious to me every time I looked into your big beautiful brown eyes. I appreciate the loyal and faithful friend you’ve been to me for fourteen years, and I shall honor your memory and the lessons you’ve taught me for the rest of my days.

Goodbye, my dear friend Scooter, and you are truly loved.