Thursday, August 9, 2012

Scout's Eulogy

This morning as I walked through the downstairs coffee shop and approached the Meter Man - aka "parking ticket distributor," we embraced. Do I know him well? No. Do I remember his name? No. But we hugged. And that is how Janie Winston gets around town. Greeting everyone I know or sort of know. Or met one time. But now, we're good friends.

And this is how Scout's personality came to be. My precious angel of 11 years. Scout greeted everyone she knew or didn't know. And a lot of times, she just sat there and let the stranger pet her and then rolled over for her belly to be rubbed.

Every time someone came over, Scout ran to the door and then grabbed a toy from her toy box and ran in circles on the rug.

I feared the loss of my dog more than the loss of anyone or anything. But I lost her. And she brought me incredible joy. If there is one thing I can tell pet owners who fear this - don't. I am ok. And I am lucky I have such wonderful friends and family. Scout was more than a dog. She was my child. And I was her mom. And I knew it was her time on Monday, August 6th. When the vet told me she was filled with tumors and I could bring her home for a few days or weeks or not. I knew it was her time. And I accepted it.

There is a lot I can write here. But I want to leave you with this beautiful eulogy my co-worker, Mark E. Griffin wrote.

I read this last night at our pot luck in Scout's memory:

A Eulogy for Scout

At the age of 6 months, we acquire our first skill – object permanence. In essence, we learn that something can be there one minute and out of view the next. While we can’t see it, we know the object still exists. Throughout our lives, that instinct remains our most powerful tool. Our ability to imagine that something exists even when it’s not there is a comfort in a life when so many things change so often.

So when we have something or someone by our side, greeting us when we get home, licking our faces before we walk out the door, we are grounded. We are content. It’s no wonder, then, why pets are so important to us. Studies show that people who have pets live longer and have lower anxiety (Ok, so maybe, for some of us, it’s a mix of pets and anti-anxiety medication, but still.)

Dogs satisfy this need for permanence, with one crucial addition: unconditional love. My uncle once said that if you didn’t feed it, a cat would be gone in a day, but a good dog will starve by your side. It’s this dumb, unreasonable loyalty that we cherish - the slobbering and begging, the guaranteed affection that makes us happy with a good dog.

Scout was a good dog. I only knew her when she had a crooked face, and that crooked face was a perfect symbol of the goofiness we love about our pets that would make a person self-conscious. Her unabashed lack of self-awareness of anything that might be wrong – be it a bad day from her owner, or someone’s leftovers strewn about on the ground near the Capitol – made her special. Scout knew no reason not to be herself, and for that, she set an example for us lesser humans.

Scout will forever serve as a bookend to your life. From the end of your college years, to the beginning – the real beginning – of life as a grown up, she was there for you. In your memory, she will serve as the thing that was always perfect during that time.

Having a good pet means knowing someone or something will ALWAYS be there for us. Until it’s not. When that pet disappears, we are thrown asunder, because we are reminded that not everything is permanent - in fact, very few things are. So we take comfort in the things that have made us happy, that have licked our face every day no matter what, that love us unconditionally, crooked face and all.

Soon after we are born, we learn that the objects and people in our lives can be permanent. As we grow older, we learn that that permanence is fleeting. When someone – or even a pet – close to us dies, we are reminded of that fleeting nature of life, that the people around us might sometime be gone.

But with the sadness of such a reality comes this: that each moment of joy with the ones we love is precious, and that we must seek it at every opportunity. And while life is not permanent, we have faith that the joy we find is. Scout brought that joy and happiness to you and everyone (including me) who had the pleasure of being dragged along on a walk with her. And we thank her for that joy.

Mark E. Griffin
[Janie's co-worker]