I miss my dog.
Two days ago, Monday 3 April 2023, we took our border collie Scout to the vet. She was unable to put any weight on her left hind leg and couldn’t walk or even stand.
I feared the worst, and that’s what transpired. After scans and x-rays, the vet’s assessment was that Scout had dislocated both of her hips, the left very badly but the right also seriously damaged.
This was on top of her arthritis and neurological damage sustained when she had the equivalent of two epileptic fits in quick succession a couple of years ago.
The vet’s current advice was Scout could have surgery but would have little to no quality of life.
Scout was the kind of dog who, even two months short of her 12th birthday, was pretty sure she was still a puppy. She wouldn’t walk when she could run and would, until the last few years, bound down stairs rather than tread carefully.
Going upstairs was impossible, and I had to carry her when that was necessary. Our house has level front access but is on a slope, with steep stairs at the back, inside and out.
Most likely, she had dislocated her left hip when she was in the back yard, probably having wheeled around too sharply to yet again try to pounce on an invading bird.
It was also in the back yard where she’d had those fits. Both times, I held her stiff, shuddering body, her eyes glassy and foaming at the mouth. I thought she was gone then, but she somehow revived, her body relaxed and suddenly she was back on her feet, ready to play and looking at me quizzically as if to say “What’s up with you?”
Lately, the arthritis had slowed her down, her running reduced to almost hopping with her stiff back legs unable to bend – not that that stopped her running, she just adapted her style.
Our twice daily walks were taking longer as she stopped frequently to inspect neighbourhood smelling spots, but she still insisted on cajoling me into running the 100 metres or so alongside the soccer field.
Those walks were also her social opportunities, looking up expectantly at anyone we passed in the hope of a pat, which she frequently got, especially from kids on their way to or from school, and the older people at nearby retirement villages.
Her friendliness didn’t extend to other dogs, though. There are many dog walkers in Corrimal, and most of the dogs get on well with each other. Not Scout. She’d edge up to another dog until they were nose to nose and then she’d growl menacingly and bare her teeth until I had to pull her away.
The one exception was her brother Bilbo, who lives in Sydney. The couple of times we visited Bin and Johnny in Lilyfield, Scout and Bilbo would romp happily in their back yard. When we went to Mudgee for a celebration with Scott and Wendy at Ruwenzori, Scout was uncertain with other dogs but happy to lie in the shade with Bilbo.
They both came from a litter by Missy and Dude, owned by the St George family in Corrimal. I’ll be forever grateful that we came to know Craig and Corrinne through the local surf club. I remember driving home with Scout on my lap in the passenger seat, a bright eyed bundle of fluff cuddling into me and looking up at me with cautiously happy eyes.
And here we are, nearly 12 years later, many adventures under our collective belts and collar, crouching on the floor at the vet hospital, cuddling our beloved Scout as we said our goodbyes. I kept looking into her eyes and whispering how much I loved her as the vet gave her the sedative and then the lethal dose that put her to sleep forever.
I’m glad I was able to be with her at the end, and that my family was there, too. I’m sure Scout more or less knew what was happening, in this strange room with us all teary around her.
And now she’s gone and I keep forgetting, keep going to take her food out of the fridge when I’m cooking, keep expecting to see her lying in the hall or hear her bark to let me know she needs to go outside.
But Scout’s not here any more, and there’s a massive hole in my heart where she used to be.
Goodbye, Scout. I miss you.