Tribute to a Life Saved

While Hue and I are still reeling from the loss of our beloved Charlie, we had to face another hard decision this morning. Our wonderful 18-year-old Cocker spaniel, Scout, was gently sent to the Rainbow Bridge this morning. He was unable to get up on his own, had to be spoon-fed, and had to have water given by syringe for the past six months. He was deaf and blind, but he still enjoyed life and loved spending time with the family. Some people might say he had lost so many abilities that we should have let him go sooner. But those people did not know Scout. Those who knew him knew he was happy and well-loved.

Scout came to us at the age of 14. He and his housemate, Freckles, were left in a horrible situation in Tennessee. The man of the house had died and the wife had severe dementia. The wife and dogs were being cared for by the son. The son did not like the dogs and posted on Facebook that he couldn't wait to drop the dogs at the local high-kill shelter the minute mom passed away. A good friend saw the dogs on Facebook and put out a plea for someone to take them. Hue and I had tears streaming down our faces reading of the plight of two 14 year old dogs; we agreed to take them on. 

That night we arranged a rescue posse' and with the help of friends, the dogs were rescued within hours of the passing of their owner. One of my clients agreed to drive a transport leg to meet my friend from Tennessee in Virginia to bring the dogs home. When she saw the urine-soaked, matted, blind, deaf, malodorous dogs I'm sure she regretted that offer, but she and her son drove with windows open, delivering the dogs late at night. 

At the time, Hue and I already had more dogs than any sane people would live with. Michele Allen had told me she wanted to open Monkey's House Senior Dog Hospice and Sanctuary for dogs in this sort of situation. When I called her she said she wasn't ready, but if Hue and I would keep the dogs for two weeks, she would get everything ready for them. I figured it would take that long to take care of the medical problems anyway, so I agreed. Needless to say, the dogs never made it to Monkey's House. We just started calling our house Monkey's House south.

Hue and I immediately set to work bathing, cleaning ears and matted eyes. Scout was not blind - his eyes were just matted shut and infected. Freckles was blind, but was not deaf - her ears were just infected and swollen shut. Scout's ears ended up having ruptured eardrums and middle ear infections, so he had surgery to remove both ear canals and middle ears (total ear canal ablation), which left him deaf and dizzy. He could no longer go up and down stairs and had a head tilt. They were treated for the roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms they were harboring. When all was said and done, we had two happy spaniels. (Freckles passed away two years ago.)

The son caring for the dogs said Scout was mean and would bite him. This is so far from his loving, sweet personality I often wonder what was done to Scout to make him react in that way. We actually found a newspaper article about Scout being a therapy dog for people displaced during Hurricane Katrina. He was a lovable goofball. Both dogs have been featured in other articles, as well.

Six months after we adopted Scout he developed squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive cancer, in his front toe and the skin on the leg. They were surgically removed, earning him the nickname of "3-toed sloth". Fortunately the cancer never returned, even though we opted for no chemotherapy or radiation.

Scout was a bit aloof, taking in everything around him and enjoyed being with people. But he never wanted to be up on the furniture (we assume he was taught not to get up there), never wanted to sleep in bed with us, and did not enjoy being hugged or cuddled. He learned over time to accept my "snuggles", but he was happier just sitting by my side or going for walks around the neighborhood with the gang.

Charlie hated Scout and would run him down in his walker. Scout would hit the floor and scream at Charlie in a high-pitched voice that didn't match the dog. They were two grumpy old men that made us laugh. We will miss them both very much.

I will miss this gentle old soul that only wanted to love and be loved. He was a character that just made you want to smile. Fly high old man.

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