We received Scout as a 7-week old puppy from a breeder near Wilcox, Arizona. We brought him home to our house in Tucson, Arizona and that started an almost 13-year adventure with what we are all convinced was the world's greatest dog. Scout went with us to southern Georgia and then to New Mexico and then to Fairbanks, Alaska and finally to Spokane, Washington. His last ten years always had his weight around 115 pounds and we made sure to keep him as lean as possible, so he was a very big yellow lab. He loved his family and especially loved to cuddle with anyone that would get on the floor with him.
There were numerous times when I would be working late, that I would come home and find him laying on our bed, with my wife snuggled up behind him with her arm around his neck and both of them sound asleep. I have never seen a dog that loved to cuddle as much as he did. On lazy weekend or holiday vacation days, I would give him breakfast and then bring him back to bed with me and we would sleep comfortably for up to three hours at a time. Contact and affection is what he seemed to love most.
He had a big impact on a lot of people over those nearly 13 years. He did a stint as a registered Therapy Dog that went into hospitals and nursing homes with great results. The only complaint was that he was too big to be put into bed with some of the more frail patients. A long series of combat experiences in the Middle East left a toll on me personally and his greatest service as a Therapy Dog was done at home with him just being himself. Everywhere we went, our friends and neighbors gravitated to him because of his large size, big brown soulful eyes and very gentle and sweet demeanor. Everyone that watched him for us always fell in love with him and were anxious to see him come back again. He loved everyone and was loved universally in return. While the kids in his pack were a little older, he was always so excited to see everyone when they came home. Our oldest son's girlfriend has repeatedly remarked that one of the really endearing first things that she noticed about him on their first date was how he talked about Scout. Scout especially loved little kids and several parents used him to introduce their young ones to dogs and teach them not to be so afraid. He had a universally calming energy about him and getting to spend quiet time with him was like getting your personal batteries recharged.
Three winters in interior Alaska had taken a bit of a toll on his arthritic joints and we all really liked the warmer weather of eastern Washington. While he still took long walks every day, he continued to lose more of his mobility and strength as the weeks and months wore on. Despite what had to be a lot of discomfort that we did our best to manage with meds, his friendly and loving demeanor never changed. My wife and I knew that his big body would eventually fail on him and we made the decision to contact Eternal Paws about their services and what the process would be like. This was an extremely easy and clear process that we ended up being so grateful to have gone through while we had time to do so. We noticed a fairly large change in the strength of his back legs a couple of months later and took him to the vet for a checkup. His blood work revealed that despite our having removed an earlier cancerous tumor under his skin, the cancer had come back somewhere in his body. We set up the final appointment with the vet and very quickly and easily finalized the arrangements for his remains with Eternal Paws.
We gave him an amazing last day as our way of saying a partial "thank you" for his unending love and affection. I had the rare honor of laying on his blanket with him and holding onto him through his final transition. We were all heartbroken, but also deeply grateful for the amazing gift that he was in our lives.
About two weeks later, we received a call from Eternal Paws that we could get Scout back. He came back to us in a beautiful wooden box with his picture on a tile on top. While we had originally planned to empty his ashes out in the mountains of central New Mexico where he had hiked so many miles with us, but the urn was so beautiful and tastefully finished that he now has a permanent place of honor in our home. Being able to have Scout's remains with us has definitely eased the pain of his passing and it means so much to us to be able to see his name on the box and his picture on the tile. It has been a beautiful way for us to transition from his phenomenal life, to us learning to adjust without him.
I would absolutely recommend using Eternal Paws for the processing and packaging of any pet's remains as it is a beautiful way to acknowledge and honor their life. Making that decision continues to have a positive impact on our entire family.