I've often heard it said, "When God closes a door . . .
. . . He opens a window.
In January of 2001, I traveled to Washington D.C. to join my husband in celebration of the inauguration of George W. Bush. I left my three teenaged daughters at home, and in-charge of our small horse farm in Camarillo, California. We were having some renovations done, some paddocks put in, and a wooden fence erected to screen our property from the bridle path. I was hesitant to go, considering I was leaving a work-in-progress, but anxious to see my husband who was heading a work-related project in Maryland that year.
Our girls had always been reliably responsible, so I had no worries as far as leaving them alone was concerned. It was leaving our four-legged family, that put me on edge, but I assured myself that any emergency could be easily handled by telephoning our neighborhood veterinarian (he lived a block over, and he made house-calls).
I was assured that no construction work would be done while I was gone, and insisted the contractor block the open section of fencing. I was less than pleased with the plastic construction fence the contractor used to secure the yard, but didn't want to appear unreasonable, so shrugged and hoped for the best.
In spite of a blizzard that struck the capital the evening of the inauguration, we managed to enjoy our weekend in D.C. On the way to the airport on Monday morning, my husband broke the news that our three-year-old lab, Guiness, had slipped through the shoddily blocked opening in the fence, was struck, and killed by a motorist. I was devastated.
Guiness on the far left, with his mother and sister.
One of the primary reasons we'd agreed to erect the privacy fence, was to block the dogs' view of the pathway that led to a canyon below our property. The coyotes used the path to enter the neighborhood during the evening hours, which greatly agitated our family of labs, who'd made it their mission in life, to chase and dispose of the coyotes.
When we walked into the house that evening, our daughters had gathered on one side of the large country kitchen, eyes swollen, heads hung low. Our remaining three labs, Mamma, Pappa and Sister, as well as our adopted cross-bred, Koko, were splayed across the brick floor. Not one, rose to greet us as we entered. It was indeed, a house in mourning. I wonder to this day, how those dogs knew what had happened? Was it pure empathy, or did they truly suffer the loss?
Life on our little farm, resumed, as did the construction. I was never able to look the contractor in the eye after that weekend, and was relieved when the project was completed, a week later. I'd given him a piece of my mind, when he returned to work, but it didn't replace the life we'd lost through negligence.
One night after dinner a few weeks later, my daughter looked up from the newspaper she was reading and excitedly announced that a litter of Scottie puppies was offered for sale through a breeder in San Diego. I'd grown up with a Scottie, and we'd had another when the girls were just babies. Our little Angus McShane had lived to a ripe old age, and was dearly missed. We'd looked for years for another, but good breeders were few and far between. The timing certainly seemed right.
Scout (with daughter Bridget) was a favorite on the international horse-show circuit as well, here capturing the eye of a professional photographer.
A phone call, and a trip to San Diego followed. Within a month, White Dog's Girl Scout, joined our family of labs, and captured our hearts. Scout was truly one-of-a-kind, with a personality ten-times the size of her small stature. Certainly the alpha-dog, she ruled the roost, and kept the other White Dogs in line. Scout lived life large. There was an exaggerated swagger to her walk; she carried herself with the dignity and grace of royalty. We were often stopped when out and about, and asked if she was a show-dog. She liked that!
Our beloved Scottie passed away this past fall. Its taken me this long to muster the courage to write about her. Scrappy and spunky, Scout was all terrier, surviving both snail-bait poisoning and a rattlesnake bite. She lived life on her own terms, and was a fighter until the end, succumbing to cancer, after a year-long battle.
Scout's passing, closed a chapter in my life. Time to move on . . . and look for another window to open . . .
In loving memory of Guiness, Scout, and all of the special pets we carry still in our hearts.