Lloyd Waters: A eulogy for Scruffy

February 19, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

Scruffy was an old black mutt, a mixed-breed dog who would travel the streets and paths of Dargan looking for a snack here and there.

She fit her name perfectly.

When she arrived at my mom’s yard, maybe she was also looking for a little fellowship, or a comfortable spot to lay her head and count the stars at night.

For whatever reason, the black dog with the thick wavy tail ended up at my mom’s house about 10 years ago and decided to stay.

Everyone knows that line about dogs being man’s best friend.

Well, the truth of the matter is, Scruffy was my mom’s best friend, too.

I’m not exactly sure who needed the companionship more, my mom or Scruffy, but the new friendship seemed to make both of them very happy.

Anyone who has ever owned a dog will quickly tell you that a dog’s loyalty is unsurpassed. 

I suspect that Scruffy got more rubs from my mom than any other dog walking the face of the earth.

Human loneliness always seems to evaporate when a dog arrives.

It wasn’t too long after laying claim to my mom’s porch that Scruffy began to gain some sudden weight. Although her appetite had never been anything short of phenomenal, this weight gain had more to do with that birds and bees story than with one too many dog treats. Those nightly walks outside the yard had been more eventful than first suspected.

Scruffy gave birth to a litter of pups who were adopted in the neighborhood quicker than my mom passes out sugar cookies at Christmas.

Those little pups were really cute, and for sure, as they made their way into several community homes, it made Dargan a much brighter place.

The life of a dog, indeed, is something very special.

As I began to write this column, I reflected on a speech delivered by George G. Vest, a lawyer who delivered a closing argument in an 1870 Missouri trial. Vest was representing a dog owner who was seeking $50 in damages because his dog (Old Drum) had been killed by a neighbor.

Vest’s summation included a most-eloquent description of the dog. His words were profoundly noble as he described man’s best friend. Vest spoke to the jury:

“Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us — those who we trust with our happiness and our good name — may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its clouds upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world — the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous — is his dog”

After Vest’s speech, the Jury awarded $500 to Old Drum’s owner.

Scruffy, too, seemed to fit that very description offered by Vest. She was a most “loyal” friend to my mom, and on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, she died next to my mom’s bed.

My brother and I buried her in my mom’s flower garden. 

She always did seem to like flowers.

 I guess as eulogies go, the observation and quote of Agnes Turnbull is probably a good place to end this column.

“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault really.”

Rest in peace, Scruffy.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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