I realized that it’s been a little over a year since my beloved dog Scout went to live on God’s Farm in the Sky.
Scout was a great dog. Gentle, funny, loyal. Anxious, nervous, a little squirrely. Brave, eager to please, brilliant. He came into my life when I was at one of my lowest points and saw me through a season of ups and downs, leaving when I was once again at my lowest and I wasn’t sure I could go on another day, but giving me a renewed strength to get up and move on.
When Scout died I wept with regrets- how it was my fault that he broke his leg when he was 15 weeks old, and then my fault that he developed anxiety. How I’d used a trainer whose methods were less than positive, and how much those methods added to poor Scout’s anxiety. How I’d always wanted to take a cross country road trip with him but was too afraid to venture out on my own. How, when he was loving life as the only dog, I brought home Bandit, who stole the limelight and kept us all on our toes. How Scout’s last days were marked by Bailey’s behavior problems, resulting in injuries to both Scout and Bandit and their subsequent need to be separated from Bailey at all times. How the good dog always got the least attention, especially in a home with a naughty collie and a pit mix with behavior issues.
How none of that mattered to him. I let him down again and again and he forgave me every time.
I weep about it all now, even a year after he’s gone.
I keep Scout’s remains in a decorative box next to my bed. Sometimes the pain of wishing he were here is too much to bear. I miss Scout. I still feel guilt and regret; I wish I had been a better dog owner, I wish I had loved him more, played with him more, used kinder training methods, blown more bubbles for him to chase, knew then what I know now about dog communication so that I could have listened to him and better met his needs.
I have regrets, but I learned much from Scout (and my mistakes) and that’s made me a better person and a better dog owner.
Maybe that was his job. A year after his death, at the progress Bailey has made, especially since a year ago we were ready to write her off as a hopeless case. At my own personal progress, growing by leaps and bounds. I don’t even recognize the person I was a year ago. I wouldn’t be who I am now without my years with Scout.
Scout always forgave me my failings. Perhaps this is the year I forgive myself.