Scruffy's Gift

By Mark Hrubetz • October 25, 2013

Scruffy was my best friend. More than any one person or anything could ever be.

More than I had experienced in a lifetime. He was a true gift of love, and that's the gift he returned to me in the all-too-brief 15 years we were able to spend together.

I first met Scruff when I went out to move my Wife's car...and a strange growling issued from somewhere under it as I approached. Looking underneath, there was a mangy, oil covered, spaniel/terrier sized puppy growling for all he was worth. "Huh...toughguy, are ya?" I said as I reached under and pulled him off the gravel. He licked my nose while his tail thumped my chest, and left muddy paw prints on my favorite white T-shirt. Little did I know that was the start of a relationship that was to later become the center of my life. After taking him in the house, giving him a long bath to remove grease, oil, mud and everything a puppy can carry on and in their fur, I took a long look at him. He looked like a scrawny cross between the Dog-famous Benji and a small downsized Sheepdog. Dirty white, with a saddle of tan, floppy, fuzzy black ears tapering to a soft gray.

After he consumed most of my was-to-be-the-weeks lunch of bologna and half a pound of hamburger, he padded over by my chair and promptly fell asleep at my feet. A small battle ensued with the Mrs. the rest of that afternoon, as we lived in a small apartment where animals were NOT allowed. I'll spare you the details, to tell you he ended up at the dog pound that afternoon. I love dogs, but we just could not afford to get booted out of the apartment, nor could we afford a dog at that time.

A week later, I called the pound to see if he was still there. I had been unable to put him out of my mind for some maddening reason. He was. He would be put to sleep at the end of the day, like a convicted, atrocious criminal, because his crime was being homeless and unwanted. I told them I'd be there in 15 minutes.

When I arrived, I was informed of a "small problem"..he had what appeared to be Parvo virus, pretty much a death sentence then for dogs. They would waive all fees if I just took him. I walked over to the cage where this puppy lay in his own blood and excrement, on a cold concrete floor. I thought "No, I do not want this"..., as I touched his nose with my finger. Thump, thump, thump went the tail.

We arrived at my Veterinarian friend's office just as he was closing. After numerous injections, tablets of wonder drugs, taking samples of everything, he was given a 10% chance of making it. "Keep him warm, fed, and make his time comfortable" said my friend John.

I did. He slept in a cardboard box on top of my blanket, next to the kitchen stove.

He'd eat the hamburger I cooked for him, fed to him in his bed, as he was to weak to get up, drink some water, and sleep.

One month later I had a raging furball rocketing around the apartment, who was snuck in and out to "do his thing" under cover of darkness in a pillowcase.

He became what my friend "The Vet" called "Scruffy the Wonder Dog". I'm sure you now know how he obtained his name.

He was there with me on my worst days...he was by my side when my wife and I divorced five years later. He was there hogging the bed on those blustery Minnesota winter nights. He was there first thing in the morning, panting in my face with that silly grin that seemd to say "C'mon!!! Get up! He was there in my pickup, sitting up regally and watching our truck until I came back out of the store with our dinner. He loved to go to the park and watch the Giant Canada geese, showing how tough he was by growling and snapping at these big feathered things. He sat stoically at the Vet, while his tongue hung halfway to the floor, due to the fact that it was stuck into the rubber ball on the other end of it.

He never left my side when I was laid up with a shattered back, enduring my hospital stays by sitting in the front window all day and finally falling asleep there, according to my friends who stayed with him.

He made me laugh when I lost my job due to my injuries, when I thought there was nothing humorous left in the world. He patiently waited for me as I slowly made it down steps so he could take ME for a walk.

I can go on almost endlessly; unfortunately life cannot. There came that horrible day in my life when we both knew it "was time". I said those words to him. He knew, too. We were chauffeured to my friend "The Vet" one last time.

I stroked that soft, silky ear and kissed that wet black nose one last time as he snoozed off into his reward of no more pain, no more falling down, only blissful, easy slumber until his time of awakening to his best friend at HIS side.

Thank you Scruff, for the most wonderful 15 years of my life. You taught me more about myself through your unbiased, simple love than all the interactions of my life. Your payback for a home, some food, and companionship was far more encompassing than any person would ever be able to understand. Remember that T-shirt with the paw prints? It sits not far from Scruffy's Urn on my bedroom dresser...

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