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A day can change everything

By Jessica Brodie

Our family lost the best dog in the world yesterday afternoon, the day before the Advocate went to press, and we never saw it coming. And as I muddle through grief, I’m left with one key thought that won’t let me go: Treasure what you have while you have it, because life is painfully, tragically short, and those you love can be gone before you can even say goodbye.

Scout was a massive, people-loving 11-year-old German Shepherd with a heart of gold and a penchant for drooling all over the kitchen floor. He was my husband’s best buddy and like a brother to our four kids. Matt’s had him since he was a tiny puppy, and they have the sort of bond you see in Hollywood. It was disgustingly, heartbreakingly, preciously adorable.

Scout was also the biggest dog I’ve ever seen, so big that people would eye us warily and cross the street when we’d walk him—until they saw that big doggie grin and tail-wag. Then they’d met a friend for life. Even our cat loved him, and that’s saying a lot. She was part of Scout’s pack, and he’d regularly come up, make sure she was clean enough, and if she didn’t pass muster, do the job for her.

We were all part of Scout’s pack. And he was ours.

Until yesterday, when everything changed and now our house feels empty and quiet, like a huge chunk of love and boisterous boy-dog energy is missing.

We had no warning it was coming, though when we think back on it, we remember how Scout took to following us everywhere around the house the last few days.

He waited for my husband, Matt, to come home from work before he left this life and all these people who love him. Matt gave him some hello-love, let him out back and, minutes later, heard a sad little whine and turned to see him collapse at the back door.

Matt did everything he could to help Scout, but it was no use. He was gone.

And we are left behind, stunned and cold, missing him and mourning. There was no time to process it, no way to prepare. He was here and then he was gone, and now everything has changed.

Yesterday morning was the last time I saw him alive, and I’d left for work in a rush, not getting to spend any quality time with him, though I remember calling out, “Bye, Scout,” and waving as I walked out the door. I’m glad I did at least that, but I wish I’d done more. I wish I’d cherished him better these last few days, spent deep moments scratching his head and telling him I loved him instead of rushing from here to there in that frenzy we call the busy-ness of life.

Isn’t that how it always is? We try not to take things for granted, but then something or someone we’d counted on always to be there suddenly is not, and we realize how fleeting life is. It happens so quickly. Children are born, skip through childhood and are off to
college. One day we’re laughing with a friend, the next day we learn she has terminal cancer.

Today, I’m hugging my people and my kitty-daughter a little extra tight. I’m taking time to enjoy the sunshine. I’m doing my best to live in the now.

Rest in peace, Scout. We love you dearly.

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