Saying Goodbye to Scout

Touching short story remembering Scout, the family dog. A family’s favorite memories of their loyal pet and the hard day they had to say goodbye.

Scout

Saying Goodbye to Scout

Scout, the world’s happiest dog seemed to enjoy every minute of his life, and had a knack for sharing that joy with his ranch family.

 

Story by Jeff Olson

Decatur, Texas

“It’s OK if you have to go, buddy,” I said, looking into those eyes that showed love, devotion and friendship. I knew what he was thinking: I have to get up, go home, be the ranch dog, take care of things, train the new guy. We’ve got a bull to load, cows to move. Who’s going to watch the place?

But he wasn’t coming home.

Scout was taking his last ride from a specialist in Dallas back to our vet. We had cut our vacation short and driven all night to be with him. We couldn’t imagine doing anything else for this dog who had worked his way into a job on our small ranch and found a place deep in our hearts.

He couldn’t get into the truck himself. The dog who could do anything, learn anything­—the dog who always beat me to the truck—had to be lifted in. His 70 pounds of muscle were down to a lot less, but his heart was still as big as ever.

Scout started out on the floor in back. But when we got close to home he jumped up, rested on the console and leaned against me. Then he crawled, obviously hurting, into the passenger seat where he always rode. For a minute he looked out the window and then back at me.

My first memory of Scout was as a 6-week-old pup, perched on the edge of the seat, front paws on the window, looking back at Twin Pines Farm as he left. You might have expected him to whine or act nervous, but he just smiled and watched.

When he wagged his tail his whole rear end moved. He smiled all the time—we called him the world’s happiest dog. He graciously put up with new dogs and puppies. He wasn’t what you’d call a hands-on father, but he would play with the puppies if nobody was looking.

He was all business when there was work to do. Most of his duties consisted of riding in the truck, playing Frisbee or lounging. But when needed, he was always there to load a cranky cow, to keep coyotes away, to make me feel OK when I was miles away, knowing he would protect his family with every last breath.

How do these four-legged fur balls get so deep in our hearts? It hurts when they go. But when you ask yourself, Would I give up having known him to make the pain go away? the answer is, of course, no.

I think Scout was probably a once-in-a-lifetime dog. But his son Gus is romping around in our backyard right now, and he had his first ride in the truck yesterday. He has the same way of looking out the window and then back at me with a smile on his face.

Gus has some big shoes to fill. Right now he doesn’t know which end of the cow is supposed to be in front, but he comes from good stock. We’ll see.

Scout, however your son turns out, we’ll always remember you. In time, it won’t hurt so much, and we’ll get by. It’s OK, buddy. You had to go.

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