Scout DuPre was born is South Carolina in May of 2002. He was a gift from Cory Owens meant to heal Justin’s heart. Justin’s Granddaddy believed that dogs should have one syllable names, and Scout fit. I remember Justin telling me about the night he walked his little red puppy home from Cory’s apartment on 2100 Reynolda Road: “What will you need, a bowl, a lease, collar?” Each day Scout sat in front to the big glass windows in the apartment waiting for Justin to make the 40 minute drive home from work at lunch to take him out. When that red Toyota pickup pulled up Scout took a break from crewing on the recliner to welcome him.
I met Scout in the Fall of 02. I had returned to Winston-Salem to attend a debate tournament and see if I could mend my heart. Standing there in the apartment I heard Justin say to Scout “See this is the girl I was telling you about.” We planned to be together and met up again in December. That cold winter day I rented a car and Laverne and I drove across the plains. Justin and Scout drove though the mountains of Tennessee and the four us met at a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. I remember watching from the window when that pick up pull in. Scout and Vern hit it off, he licked her head all night, and snuggled her in the back of the pickup all the way back to Winston.
Our family spent holidays and summers together. Then in June of 2004 Justin and Scout left Winston to join Vern and I in Iowa City, IA. With just enough room in the pickup’s cab for my man and his dog—they arrived, trailer full. Iowa City was a great time for Scout and Vern. We walked hours at Hickory Hill park, got free ice cream at the DQ on summer nights, went sledding in the winter, attended the Emma Goldman dog washes, swam countless laps at the Solon water plant, and Scout made the paper two years in a row for his impressive jumps into the community pool.
In 2005 I returned from a debate tournament one weekend to find Justin red eyed with Vern. Scout had gotten sick and Justin drove him hours to Aimes to the Iowa State animal hospital. A week later, after a diagnoses of IBD, Scout returned happy as ever and with a fancy new dog diet. Scout and Vern made countless drives back through Louisville to visit our Carolina family and run on the beach. And, on one August day, Scout stood guard as Justin proposed to me on a trail outside of town.
Finally, we loaded the car to move West. Scout and Vern made it through a storm in the badlands, Scout insisted we trade in our tent for a hotel bed and we did (he was never much for camping). He watched the buffalos in Yellowstone and we made a new home in Bellingham, WA. Scout, a member of the old guard, was there for a lot. He held me through my struggle with infertility, he laid with me during my pregnancy bed rest, he stayed up nights as we rocked crying babies, he played in a house full of toddlers, and he demanded nothing but love. Scout has walked miles, in all-weather, on all surfaces, during his full fourteen years. He grieved only silently when his best friend Vern died, and he welcomed Lexi months later with open arms.
Lexi brought new life to Scout. He tolerated her sitting on him and gave into her playful demands. In the last four years these two became inseparable. They walked, hiked, swam, and ran. He loved a good stick and could retrieve up to three toys at a time. The big man, as I affectionately referred to him, prided himself on protecting his girls. Long after his hearing had gone he sat by the door guarding me from squirrels and birds in the yard.
Today his body could guard no more. Lexi, Justin, and I sat with him as we let him go with dignity. My heart aches and I hope to help my family heal by filling them up with memories of the smartest and kindest dog I have ever known. He was my first and only boy and I miss him deeply. If heaven exists, I know he is there. Thank you Scout, I am grateful for the ways in which you filled all of our hearts.