SCRUGGS COMES HOME—COMING THROUGH THE DOOR
(39th installment, Scruggs and Samantha, by Mary de la Pena)
Maybe fine wasn’t the right word to use when telling Prince Charming I would be ‘okay’ to get Scruggs into the house at home. Maybe I should have used a phrase like:
“I’ve always wanted to ride a tornado;” or
“dancing with a whirling dervish sounds like fun;” or even
“I’ve always wanted my arm jerked out of my socket by a psychotic dog.”
All of those phrases would have been more appropriate than fine.
Needless to say, I was whirled and jerked and pulled by the poor dog all the way to my SUV. Then I poured the reluctant dog into the back compartment of the vehicle. But since the rear hatch was electronic, I couldn’t slam it shut. Every time I pushed Scruggs into the back and hit the button to close the hatch there was enough of a delay that he had enough time to try to jump out. The gate would hit his head, and then reopen. This went on for at least four tries until I decided to put him in the back seat. Unfortunately for me, this left him free to put his head between the front seats and drool copious amounts of slimy stuff all over me. By the time we got home, I was drenched.
The trip into the house was even worse. From the minute his little white paws hit the tile flooring of our entryway he started skidding and sliding. He ended up sprawled, spread eagle, on the floor, each leg heading in a different direction—his face flat on the floor, with his eyes rolling in different directions. But Scruggs did not whimper or protest. He just lay quietly thumping his tail.
But when I tried to pick up the front legs, the back legs slid away, and when I went around to his back to pick up the rear legs, his nose and front legs plowed forward onto the tile. He moaned softly, and his tail did a slight wag. I tried to lift him from the side, but even with his underweight forty-five pounds, he was too heavy for me to get his four paws beneath him. We twirled and swirled around on the entryway tile for several minutes, but there was no way I was able to get enough purchase on him to lever him into a standing position. Worse yet, he did not seem to have either the strength or will to do it himself. After about five minutes of struggling, I gave up and sat with his head in my lap. He smiled up at me like a drunken suitor, happy just to have his head in my lap. As he panted, his tongue lolled out of his mouth and drool dripped from it, creating a puddle that grew as the minutes passed.
Sitting with him while he gained strength, I was able to really look at the dog I had just adopted. I looked at his soft, dark brown eyes, the pretty white blaze down the front of his face, and the weird wiry whiskers that traveled up from his nose and almost obscured his vision. I remembered how from the first time I saw Scruggs at the Humane Society I believed he was a golden retriever mix of some sort. He was a deep rich golden color, had a beautifully plumed tail, with feather-like wisps of long fur on his front and rear legs. More importantly, he had a loving and sweet disposition, which led me firmly in the direction of golden retriever. The whiskers on his face and the wiry hairs sticking out all over his body gave me some concern as to his daddy’s heritage but, overall, he was definitely a retriever mix.
The interlude in the tiled entry also gave me a chance to quietly consider where Scruggs would fit in my life and in my heart. He had captured it when I wasn’t looking. He had held it when I had almost stopped believing in miracles. But where did he fit? Why had he come to the de la Peña household? How would this scruffy retriever mix fit into a household of Rottweilers? He appeared to be a high-energy dog, while the Rottweiler’s ideas of a hard afternoon were moving from the couch to the floor several times, and maybe following me up and down the stairs.
My husband and I considered ourselves to be a predominately Rottweiler household. We loved the breed and had a deep understanding of what was needed to keep them happy and balanced. But this dog was an enigma. I had no way of knowing if he would be happy as primarily an outdoor dog or be more like Tara and Fina, couch potatoes with spurts of outdoor activities.
So, as I sat musing about Scruggs and his future in our home, his panting slowed, his eyes closed, and his breathing became regular as he fell into a deep sleep. I sat with him until my legs had lost all feeling and my tailbone screamed its distress. I could feel myself turning into a cripple the longer I sat cradling the dog’s head in my lap. Movement was critical or I most certainly would have faced living the rest of my life in a wheelchair and paralyzed from the waist down.
“Scruggs,” I said, trying to gently displace his head. “Scruggies, Mommy has to move, or her legs are going to fall off.”
As I shifted his weight, the dog suddenly sprang to life. He jumped up from his prone position in the entryway only to bolt toward the back door. Unfortunately for Scruggs, there were three steps leading down to the lower level of the house. He missed them completely and again was sprawled face down, all four legs pointing in different directions.