Monday, October 6, 2014

Scout The Wonder Dog And The Last Trail

There will be no pictures with this post, save the one at the top of the page. There will be no report of the trip as Scout is on a trail I can not yet tread upon.  I can only report that Scout The Wonder Dog stepped off from the Trailhead in his sleep sometime Saturday night. Cause of death was complications of old age. About a month or so ago, Scout was bitten by a snake and when I took him to the vet it was explained to me that while he would survive the snake bite with treatment, his days with me were coming to an end. It could be weeks, months, or days.  The vet assured me that he would be in no pain, that he would simply stop breathing, and that's what happened.

Scout was born in October of 2002, one of a litter of seven born to Punkin The Wonder Dog, an Akita mix, his father a Border Collie mix known in the neighborhood as a lady's man. In coloration and hair, he resembled his mother, in size he was like his father, with a few wisps of black hair (that became more prominent with age) being the only contribution made to his appearance. He was raised in the yard of the Prairie Bungalow by his mother and three other female dogs, Annie, Libby and Serenity whom we called his "maiden aunts" even though there was no blood relation. Early in his puppyhood, just after the soft fur phase,  my late wife and I were getting to dogs together to get them inside for the night and the puppy was no where to be found. We did a search but to no avail.  Round these parts, if a dog is left outside at night, its pretty much a given that he's going to become coyote food and we resigned ourselves to that possibility.  By early afternoon of the next day, we regarded that fate as a certainty. But around 3:00 he came running into the yard to be greeted by his mother and maiden aunts. From that moment on, Scout never ventured very far from the homestead.

Scout was never needy or hyper. He didn't bark much unless he thought there was a real danger, and he was never mean to people or other dogs.  Scout never started a fight, but I've seen him finish several of them. He was a good friend, a good listener, and as mellow as an Autumn sunset.  He was also the best trail dog I've ever had or known.

What makes a good trail dog?  He always takes the lead.  He sets the pace---he doesn't pull your arm off dragging you down the trail and he's not so slow he gets tangled in your feet. He knows the difference between a trail and a wide spot between trees with no underbrush. He doesn't stop unless its necessary (and you should respect him enough for that to allow for the fact that sometimes sniffing a bush is necessary). He enjoys being on the trail, and being on the trail with you. He carries his own food and water without complaint.  In short, a good trail dog has the same qualities as a person you'd want to walk the trail with. 

Scout was all this and more.  In camp, he didn't crawl under my tarp and hammock so that I could protect him.  He stationed himself outside and as far as his tie out would let him so that he could be on guard.  He knew what his pack was and knew that when it came out we'd be going camping, so he'd sit by the car until it was time to go. He didn't bark, even at strangers, but his eyes never left them.  That picture above was taken by a fellow camper who offered to take some pictures of me and my set up.  He took several and in every one of them, Scout is looking directly at the camera---or to be more precise---directly at the man holding the camera.  That picture is how I like to remember Scout, standing by me on a misty morning in the woods as I sip my coffee, his only concern being my well being and protection.

More important than being a good trail dog, Scout has helped me understand some things about God.

Grace is a concept that is incompletely understood by many Christians, and by even more non-believers. The shortest definition is "unearned favor", and if you believe, as I do, that God is Creator of the Universe we are covered by so much"unearned favor" that we don't even notice it. Because He created the Universe and all that's in it, this "unearned favor" extends to every living being, human or otherwise, Believer and Non-believers.  Matthew 5:45 tells us  

44 But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, 
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you,45 that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven. For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
When I prayed to God last night I thanked Him for sending me a dog I didn't deserve and begged forgiveness from him for any acts of commission or omission I may have made since He sent him to me that may have caused him pain or distress. God's Grace is evident to me just by the fact that Scout the Wonder Dog was in my life, in my life for so long, and truly enjoyed being with me doing the things I enjoy doing the most. Like God, Scout's love was unconditional and constant, and was given to me when I needed it most and deserved it the least. And like God, Scout was protecting me and I didn't even notice it---not until I saw those pictures and realized he never took his eyes off of the stranger taking them.  
There's a popular notion in our culture that "all dogs go to heaven." To my knowledge, there's nothing in scripture to support that idea.  But I do believe in a Loving and Merciful God and I would like to think that when I take my first steps down the trail that Scout is on now, he'll at least be there at the Trailhead waiting on me to either go the trail with me or to make sure I get on mine properly before taking his own.

If you're not familiar with Scout The Wonder Dog and his Adventures, you can go to and search for the stories I wrote about he and I on the trail, I'm not going to clutter this post up with a lot of links. Scout is being cremated and some time in the very near future I will spread his ashes on the Lone Star Trail near the site of the first camping trip Scout made with me a few years ago.  Folks who wish can contact me through Facebook or Hammock Forums if you'd like to go along.  A portion of his ashes will be spread around the pond at the bottom of the hill here at the Prairie Bungalow where his mother's ashes were spread, and once I find a suitable container, a small portion will be hung from my pack strap so that he can be on the trail with me for whatever days God gives me to walk them. In Backpacking terminology, we call that "good weight."


  1. It's sad to say good bye even for those of faith and hope who recognize they are bathed in grace. I'll miss Scout too. Well written my friend. Thank you for pointing our thoughts in the right direction as you shared yours. God's peace to you Sarge, and to Scout,

  2. Sarge, I am sorry to hear of the loss of your good companion. After losing a beloved family member/pet in 2010, for the 1st time I thought about what becomes of these animals who suffer from the fall just as we humans do. Like you, I know of no scripture that speaks specifically to this. But there are some scriptures that give me hope that we might see them again:
    Matthew 19:28Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Acts 3;"19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time."

    At the renewal/restoration of all things? I can only dream of what all that might include. And speaking of not just humans, but animals and all of the creation suffering after the fall, and speaking of restoration:
    Romans 8:"18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."

    Does not this whole creation which is suffering in bondage aka "slavery to corruption" include His animals? I pray that it is so!