“Hey Boo” – Scout
To Kill a Mockingbird
On a spring weekend in 2006 my husband and I drove to the Oregon-Washington border to pick up our first baby. Named after the narrator from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, we joyously welcomed Scout to our family and hoped that she would fit in well with our cats, one of whom was named Boo, after Boo Radley from the same book because he liked to hide. I consider myself a cat person and was nervous about becoming a dog owner, but Scout quickly won me over with her good looks and charm.
After feeling competent in our abilities to parent a fur baby, my husband and I added more to our brood, bringing three human babies into the mix in the years that followed. Although she no longer had our undivided attention, Scout did not seem to mind. She took her new role as protector and guardian of the family very seriously and was quick to alert us if anyone new was approaching. She also took great pride in her herding abilities, becoming filled with anxiety and disapproval when one of her sheep would wander off in a different direction. More than once this resulted in her pulling out of her leash and collar in a desperate attempt to round up her herd.
On the morning that our third child was born, I was in the house alone. I am sure Scout knew we were bringing another child into the family, but our typically anxious dog let me be the anxious one that morning as I paced around making cupcakes, filling the birth pool and waiting for the midwives and my husband to arrive.
My midwives and doula arrived about an hour and a half before the birth, and my husband walked in about twenty minutes before the baby was born, but Scout was there the whole time to keep me company.
In spite of the fact that our three kids poked, prodded, dressed her up and rode her like a camel, she never once nipped, bit or reacted harshly. She tolerated, loved and protected my babies as if they were her own. She was the most loyal, protective and gentle family dog.
About nine months ago Scout was diagnosed with cancer. We knew the day was coming when we would have to say goodbye and did the best we could to make the end of her life as filled with love as possible. We took her to some of her favorite places, gave her extra treats and lots of special attention. We chose to use an at home euthanasia service, which was wonderful, because we were able to say goodbye in our home where she was surrounded by family and we did not have to take her to a place where she would have been stressed.
On the morning we had scheduled the vet to come, I went for my short run. (I am returning from injury and doing short run/walks.) It has been said that the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the ocean, and I certainly find this to be true. I grew up near the ocean and although I love living in the mountains, I miss the ocean dearly. I cannot reap the therapeutic benefits of the ocean as much as I would like, but I can sure get my sweat and cry on. And sweat and cry I did. As soon as I was in the beautiful foothills and hit my first walk break, all of my pent up emotions released and the salt water flowed from my eyes mixing with the sweat dripping from my forehead. If I had passed a stranger on the trails, I do not know if they would have been able to distinguish between the sweat and the tears, as by the time they emerged from underneath my sunglasses they had become one. The union of my hard work and determination to return to running with the heartbreak I was facing back at home. I returned feeling heavy hearted, yet somehow cleansed, and ready to help my children say goodbye to our beloved friend.
We were all able to spend a few minutes with Scout before she left us. And I like to think she might still be watching us and helping to protect our kids. We miss her dearly and she has left a big hole in our family, one that we will fill with another puppy one day but not too soon. Rest well, Scout. Thanks for turning this cat person into a dog person too. Good dog.