It’s a good thing puppies are cute.
When I went home for lunch the other day, I found half a dozen shredded tissues on the floor and a bottle of my favorite hand lotion, its top torn off and contents licked out like an ice cream cone. Just the latest casualties of the curious and chew-happy canine who lives with us.
She stays mostly in the back yard, but when it’s as cold as it has been lately, I put her in the house for the morning. I leave toys and food behind, turn the radio on and try to pick up anything she might nibble on, but dogs can be resourceful when they’re bored. It’s a small price to pay for the adorable puppy my husband and I got one year ago this week.
She came to us by chance, when a couple of little boys who lived nearby knocked on my parents’ front door. Their dog had had puppies, and their grandmother wouldn’t let them keep them. The boys said they had seen my parents’ dog in the yard and thought he “might need a friend.” In the freezing cold, they held up the tiny, 5-pound puppy and asked if my parents would keep her. They wouldn’t, but they thought we might want her.
Thus, I received a photo message with an itty-bitty dog held up by two itty-bitty hands. I didn’t stand a chance. My husband, Brendan, drove to Garden City to get her the very next day.
She was clearly of mixed breed, but it was unclear exactly what mix. She had a light-brown coat, black-tipped ears and black face markings, and white paws and belly. The boys who gave her to us said she was a Husky mix, which is possible given her fluffy, curled tail.
We named her Scout, after one of our favorite literary characters, and it fit: she’s kind of a tomboy, kind of mischievous, and protests loudly when she’s being left out. She has these little wrinkles on her forehead that have a way of making her look worried all the time — and make us wonder if she’s not part Boxer.
She was dirty and scared and had a round little belly swollen with worms. So we bathed her and took her to the vet (who guessed that she was a Sheba Inu mix) and quickly fell in love.
I think we spent the first four months we owned her on our hands and knees, cleaning up her accidents, picking up her toys, and reaching under furniture to retrieve her.
Scout quickly grew from 5 pounds to 60 and learned to sit, stay and pee where she’s supposed to. She’s very social, both with other dogs and with people, though she is sometimes overzealous in her licking.
She got out once, and was found near the dorms at K-State, where she got lots of attention from all the students going to and from class. Sitting in the newsroom, I heard the report from the dog catcher come over the police scanner: “Female German Shepherd mix, pink collar, about five months old…”
The collar and the fact that it was near our address tipped me off that it might be Scout. My heart was racing. I stood up from my desk and drove straight to the shelter, only to find that it wasn’t open for two more hours. When it did open and I went to pick her up, Scout had already charmed some of the people looking to adopt a pet. Back off, folks, I thought. This one already has a home.
“She’s so cute!” they said. “She looks like a dingo!”
Brendan sometimes jokes that Scout is in charge in our household. There’s a certain chair Scout likes to sit on, and recently, on a day off from work, Brendan decided to move the chair in front of the TV for optimum video-game playing. Scout didn’t like this and paced around the space where the chair was supposed to be. Finally, she stood at the door and barked, her signal to be let outside. When Brendan got up to open the door, Scout ran back and jumped in the chair and just stared at him. Brendan said she moved when he told her to. But he claims that she did it to show him she could have her chair back if she wanted it.
Though she is sometimes a pain in the neck, Scout has become a great companion for Brendan and me. With her, I exercise more. I laugh more. And when I cry, she licks the tears away.
As I learned when we solicited pet photos for a recent Snapshots page in the Mercury, everyone thinks their dog is the cutest, and I’m no exception. But whatever breed or breeds she might be, I’m certain that Scout is one of a kind. I’m so glad we took a chance on a puppy with no pedigree who has more personality than any pet I’ve ever known.