My sweet Scarlett left this earth on Sunday, February 7th. Following our afternoon walk, she seemed as though she was feeling poorly. She declined rapidly. Forty-five minutes after leaving with her to go to the emergency vet, we came home without her. I still can’t get over the shock.
For My Scarlett:
We brought Scarlett home on April 28, 2006.
I was the happiest person on earth that day.
J.R. picked her out of a litter of puppies (I can’t find the picture of her litter, but when I come across it, I will post it). She was the prettiest one of the bunch, and the only one who didn’t end up napping while we were there. At the time, the breeder told us, “Well, she’s bold.” We still reflect back on that comment. That was no lie. Scarlett was bold. And she was so many other wonderful qualities.
Before she came home with us, we had decided to name her Scarlett. The day we brought her home she became Bunny Scarlett because she hopped around everywhere, just like a bunny. The name stuck, and it fit her.
Scarlett knew all there is to know about life. Enjoy your food. Understand that boundaries have their place, but you should always test them. Live every moment to its fullest with endless zest and energy. Eat food whenever possible!
She loved so many things. She loved chewing. She loved car rides, so much so that a window was down in all weather. Even if snow was pouring in the window and we were freezing. I loved to see that doggy smile and see those ears flap in the wind. She had the most expressive ears and the prettiest eyelashes.
She loved Timber.
She loved to lick. She loved summer because she could lick J.R.’s knees which were finally bared in shorts (which I encouraged her to do endlessly, much to J.R.’s dismay!). She loved to lick our watches. She loved to lick the soap bubbles when we washed our cars. She loved to lick freshly lotioned body parts, faces, okay really any body part.
She loved her toys.
She loved to follow behind J.R. while he mowed the lawn. She loved to play hide and seek, search and rescue, and anything else you wanted to do.
She loved to come make you feel better whenever you cried.
She loved to swim (especially in waves).
She loved to think about swimming when it was over.
And we loved it because it got us this:
She loved her blanket.
She loved to supervise.
She loved us.
Scarlett arrived in Montana on her 7th birthday. I feel as though she looked at me that day asking, “Is this where y’all were going all those times? Without me?” She loved Montana so much. She loved the freedom. And even though she was equipped with a GPS tracker, it was never necessary. She never wandered farther than the neighbor’s pasture for a snack (they have horses, if you get my drift). And she always came back to us.
Everyone who has ever loved a pet knows that dogs teach us timeless lessons. Scarlett taught us about joy and enthusiasm and greeting each day as though it had the potential to be the best day ever. For me, the biggest lesson was learning how to simply give part of myself away. When J.R. and I talked about a second dog, I was afraid I might think all the “stuff” felt like extra responsibilities to take on. The walks, the training, the vet bills. But really these things were never a trade-off for having a great companion, they were for the great companion. And I got something more special back: loyalty, devotion, love, and the experience of a lifetime. I will always remember the prettiest girl who was always, always happy to see me, always wagging that tail.
At her sickest in 2015, she could still manage to wag that tail.
Even at the very end, she managed a few wags for both me and J.R. as we said goodbye.
Here in our apartment in Bozeman, J.R. would take Scarlett out each morning. When they walked back in the door, Scarlett would run and find me. All legs and ears flying, face smiling, wagging tail, and I would ask her if she had sweet Scarlett dreams last night and give her the first booty scratch of the day. You just can’t have a bad start to any morning when it starts that way. I often told Scarlett that her (doggy) Mama and Dad created such a good dog. Who’s a good girl? Scarlett knew because I told her all the time.
We battled her troubles with arthritis and lupus and her tummy troubles of just a year ago. And, boy, did she leave us with some good stories. I think everyone reading this will remember the time we thought Scarlett was old enough to be left out of her crate after lunchtime. Ha! You know, when we baby-gated her in the office with a webcam as babysitter only to get back to work to see her chewing up the woodwork! We called the answering machine ten times with increasing intensity to yell at her, “No!, Scarlett No! Stop it! Leave it!” until J.R. finally drove back home and put her back in her crate. It was pretty funny to listen to those messages that evening!
And then there was, of course, the infamous “chicken leg” affair (parts one and two). And Scarlett went through so much with us. She was just a year old when I became an amputee. She was with J.R. and me through the rollercoaster of those years, she was with us for our biggest life change move to Montana, and she was there for the end of Timber’s life when our family became just three again. She was a steady, if steadily crazy, presence in changing times.
J.R. commented, “Why do we do this?” meaning have a dog and go through their death. And I said, “Because they are awesome.” We were blessed with two completely different, completely wonderful companions. Irreplaceable, unforgettable.
I could talk about the things that aren’t fair. That I never imagined she had gone for her last swim beside us in our kayaks last summer, camped with us for the last time, walked the road with us for the last time. Of all the places in Bozeman we had yet to explore. That we didn’t get to give her a last meal that most certainly would have included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and a Czechmate Pilsner (her favorite).
That we didn’t get to do another Christmas card with her. That within three years of being in Montana, both dogs… But we all know life isn’t fair, and it certainly doesn’t bring her back. So, I am thankful to have so many memories, so many pictures, and know that she changed our lives, and me, for the better.
Mostly, I remember her as happy. And that’s a good thing to remember.