Scouting Joy

(All pictures by Marylin Warner)

(All pictures by Marylin Warner)

Even in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE there's loss and sadness before there's joy.

Even in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE there’s loss and sadness before there’s joy.


Maggie's last Christmas picture, wearing her Rudolph ears.

Maggie’s last Christmas picture, wearing her Rudolph ears.

We didn’t send our usual “Christmas picture” greetings this year. For twelve years, our beloved Maggie has been in our picture. The first Christmas after our granddaughter was born twelve years ago, Maggie posed with us as we held baby Grace, and Maggie had her own picture ever since.

As you know, Maggie died suddenly last summer, and it was a very sad time for our family. This Christmas Jim and I just didn’t have the heart power to send cards without her.

If you do a search for ways to improve the holidays, you might be stunned at the number of articles that include this one: “Watch a Christmas movie.” Immediately I thought of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, which is one of our favorites. But according to actor Tom Hanks, no December is complete without watching ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Remarque’s grim story of German soldiers’ extreme stress during WWI. Not what I would choose for Christmas inspiration or joy, but we each have our own favorites.

This week, Jim and I went to visit our local Humane Society and were touched by the enthusiasm of families adding cats, dogs, rabbits and turtles to their Christmas gift lists, and also contributing to the special gift funds for pets still waiting to be adopted.

At one glassed-in area, a single puppy waited alone in a cubicle. Her four siblings had all been adopted. I knelt and put my hand on the glass wall. When the puppy looked at me, waddled over and put her paw on the other side against my hand, Jim said he could see the writing on the wall, so to speak, and we both opened our hands and our hearts.

You are our first friends to receive this Christmas picture featuring our little 4 1/2-pound, 11-week old, Border Collie Mix. The operative word is Mix—we’re pretty sure she’s also German Shepherd and maybe other breeds, too—but Maggie was a beautiful combination of many breeds, so we’re very hopeful about her. We named her Scout after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD’s young girl narrator, one of my favorite characters in literature.

Scout adds to our joy by wagging, prancing, snuggling, gnawing, marking her territory in our lives…and reminding us how to potty train a puppy while also improving our abilities to spot clean the carpets in every room. Best of all, we feel Maggie is looking down on us and smiling at the newest addition to our family, and we smile back at her. It doesn’t get much more festive and joyful than this.

Dear blogging friends, from my family to yours, I wish you all a joyous, grateful, warm and loving Christmas.

Scout, who put her paw out to meet my hand...and my heart.

Scout, who put her paw against the glass…and touched our hearts.



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, movies, Things to be thankful for

64 responses to “Scouting Joy

  1. Oh my gosh, I am so happy for you!!! And for Scout!!! She is a darling, such a sweet face! The holidays can hurt. The year my dad died, mom canceled Christmas which is NOT what families should do.It is a long story that I will spare you but still pain at the holidays. I just bet Maggie is smiling in Heaven, relieved and feeling grateful her replacement is now on duty.

    • You have that exactly right, Claudia.
      Scout is now sleeping on her blankie on the floor next to my computer. She’s exhausted from chewing on my shoes and following me around, cleaning up her “accidents.” We’d forgotten the whole potty training thing, but we’ll catch on.
      I hope your mom reinstated Christmas after that first year. That would be so painful, especially when all of you needed to be together.

  2. What a beautiful pup Marilyn and thrilled that you shared her with us first. She is a real beauty, cute as ever and sweet – what a blessing for you guys. Maggie would have just loved this sweet baby.

  3. Grace

    I love the pic of my baby sister Scout

    • And she’s so excited to meet you, Grace! We’ve told her all about your and Munchkin the cat and your German Shepherd Duchess. Scout is going to love being with you at Christmas, sweetie!

  4. juliabarrett

    We did the same with Christmas cards – our dog! When my best bud, Louie, died, I wouldn’t have made it without getting puppy Jake. Scout looks so much like my first GSD/collie mix! She will be a wonderful dog! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Marylin.

    • Jim and I are worn out, Julia. Scout is smarter than we are; she definitely knows how to play us. She had good care at the Humane Society, but had missed out on a big yard to run in, and bright sunshine. Today before the storm moved in, she rolled in the grass and soaked up the sun, plus she had “Play Dates” with two other slightly older puppies in the neighborhood.
      The time was right, and we were finally ready. The grandkids are so excited for us to bring Scout to Kansas. It’s going to be a special time.

      • juliabarrett

        Yep. When you get a puppy it’s all about the puppy for a while. But if you do your job right she’ll grow up to be an amazing dog!

      • It’s been so very long since we’ve had a puppy, Julia, that we’re relearning how to do it right. 😉 Maggie was a rescue dog and was more than a year old, which is a very different adventure than an eleven-week puppy. 🙂

  5. Oh, I want to squeeze that little face! She’s precious, Marylin, and definitely with a hint of German Shepherd.
    As I read your post, I hoped it was leading to a big announcement…it didn’t disappoint.
    If you need a dog sitter…you’ve got my email adress!

    • And I would definitely trust you with Scout, Jill…except not over email. 😉 It’s like Skype. We jokingly offered to babysit the grandkids over Skype, knowing that once they climbed out of the chair and walked away, it was all over.
      This is a special time for us, Jill. We thought we’d never get another dog after Maggie, but we learned there’s enough heart room for Scout, too.

  6. Sweet face, that Scout. No wonder you fell for her. “Heart power” on both sides!

    When we lost our family dog, I had difficulty walking down the pet aisle for at least 6 months, so I recognize your distress at the loss of Maggie.

    One of our relatives is going through a time of deep suffering. Recently I heard that she got a Shih Tzu, a breed known for affection and companionship, like many dogs. He’s so tiny, a thimble-full of love. Like you, though, she is in the potty-training mode. 😉

    • I’m so happy for your relative, Marian. A thimble-full of love is exactly what she needs, bless her hearts.
      We still miss Maggie; she was truly a part of our family. We rescued her, but it turned out she rescued us as well. Scout is wearing us out but filling us up, too, and touching our hearts.

  7. She looks beautiful Marylin. Just right to fit into your household. Ready to give love in a place where love abounds .
    I wish you much happiness together.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs xxx

    • Thank you, David. I was laughing at the darling picture of little Reuben in your post. He’s holding the same reindeer toy that we got for Scout! 🙂
      Grandchildren and puppies. Ah, life is good! Many hugs to you!

  8. She’s adorable! What a lovely post. Happy Christmas to you and your family Marylin. It’s been a pleasure reading your weekly thoughts. I’m hoping for many Scout updates in the new year…I’m getting very close to contemplating being a first time dog owner…

    • Oh, Jenny, if you’ll be a first time dog owner, we truly wish you a dog like Maggie. Scout is still in the puppy stage, all wiggles and accidents and challenges. But we’re so glad she’s a part of our lives. Yes, I’ll be giving updates, and crossing my fingers that you do decide to get a dog. It’s a life-changing decision, and we’ve never regretted having any of our dogs. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Jenny.

  9. Oh, well done. She’s simply beautiful…

  10. What a wonderful Christmas gift you gave yourselves. Scout is perfect. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Sending hugs from Spain. ❤

    • And hugs from Colorado back to Spain, Darlene! This is a special gift we’ve given ourselves, even with potty training and all the chewing Scout does, especially on our feet and toes. But in our eyes she’s still perfect! 🙂

  11. Glee Kracl

    Oh, my! Such a look! How could one not melt and give in to such a sweet face. Pets become family so quickly! I’m sure the Kansas clan can’t wait to meet her. Thanks for your uplifting blogs……all year. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

    • We’ll be sending out picture cards after Christmas this year, Glee, with Scout continuing the tradition. I’m still smiling at you and Bud with all 6 of your adorable grandchildren…and Amanda is going to have another baby in the spring! Congratulations, and a lovely, peaceful and joyous Christmas to you all!

  12. So beautiful! You will have a great holiday with her.

    • Thank you, Kate. The grandchildren can hardly wait for us to arrive with Scout; they got her a Christmas present but we’re not supposed to tell Scout. They want it to be a surprise. There’s nothing sweeter than children and puppies, and we’re looking forward seeing how they react to each other.

  13. Oh Marylin , Scout looks so cute and I can understand how she touched your heart.
    I am not looking forwards to Christmas this year for several reasons. My mom passed away last Christmas but I will still be celebrating with part of my family . Cooking a good meal for them will help and being up in the mountains and reading a good book. It will not be ALL IS QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONt, although I think it is an excellent book.
    Marilyn, I wish you a joyful Christmas with your new dog and family.

    • Gerlinde, I’m so glad you’ll be cooking one of your delicious creations for your family this year. This first anniversary of losing your mother will be difficult, but know that you’re surrounded by love and your memories of your mom. Being in the mountains and reading a good book sounds like a good plan as will. I wish you a joyful and peaceful Christmas.

  14. Don

    I read your post Marylin with both sadness and joy. I’m sure Maggie was a wonderful gift to you all. I’ve found that the bonds with my past pets have always remained. They’re embedded in me and that gives me joy even as I remember them. I think Scout has just fallen in to puppy heaven – a lucky boy.

    • Thank you, Don. She had a rough night last night trying to get used to her kennel; tonight we’ve already decided that there have to be better, more loving and cuddly ways to do this. Our 12+ years with Maggie formed strong bonds that encouraged us to open our hearts to this puppy.

  15. Keeta Middleton

    Scout is adorable!!!!!! Love your “things I want to tell my mother” . Have a lovely Christmas. Time for January coffee?… Sent from my iPad


    • Aw, thank you, Keeta. You’ll have to meet Scout…after she is potty trained, of course. 😉 But she is wearing us out at the same time she energizes us, which is really very nice. Merry Christmas, Keeta, and in January we will make time for coffee! Hugs! Marylin

  16. Jim

    Scout is indeed a heartful and a handful. She has fallen asleep while curled around my slipper as I type this, and she does this endearing act not ten minutes after peeing on the carpet! And yes, honey, I agree that Maggie approves. If she were still here and could meet Scout, all we would need to say would be, “Maggie, . . .puppy . . . . easy,” and Maggie would lie down and play nibbles with Scout and let Scout climb all over her. Many times did we see Maggie do this with puppies over the years. Mag will always be in our hearts as we welcome our new heart-full.

    • Maggie would be as excited having Scout here, there, and everywhere as we are, honey. This is the best of memories with Maggie and making memories with Scout. What a wonderful Christmas present we chose for ourselves! Love you, sweetie!

  17. Nancy Parker Brummett

    I’m so happy for you and Jim–and Scout! She is just darling…I see why she won your heart and home. Merry Christmas to you all!!

    • Oh, Nancy, it’s been decades since we’ve had a puppy in the house! Potty training is something you block out… But there’s a sweet, wonderful energy, and she’s our special Christmas present to each other! Merry Christmas to you, too!

  18. Oh how wonderful Marylin! I love how you and Scout bonded from the moment you laid eyes on each other. What a truly heartfelt and warm “tail” of love. Bless you and your family in this beautiful holiday.
    xo Joanne

    • It really was a special moment, Joanne, and then when they brought her to the private room to meet us, she just seemed to already know us and wagged her way into our lives. Now, of course, when our eyes meet as she piddles on the floor and than wags her tail like “Wow, that was something, right?” the moment isn’t as touching. 😉 But she’s already wiggled her way into our hearts, and we’re thrilled.
      Blessings for you and your family, too, dear Joanne.

  19. calvin

    They are more than best friends, they are an intricate part of our lives tapestry. Am sure Scout will add another thread to your family story.

    Best wishes and shtufffs to you and yours.

  20. Nancy Gibbs

    Scout is gorgeous! Congratulations!

  21. She has definitely added an energy and laughter to our lives, Nancy. I think you’d get a kick out of her.
    So how are you doing, dear Nancy? We miss you at the round table!

  22. What a cutie! Scout is very blessed to join such a loving family. Merry Christmas to you all. Scout: from our cats to you – Paws up! 😉

  23. Believe me, Judy, we are very blessed to have Scout join our family. Even the grandchildren are so excited to meet their new “cousin”–we did Face Time with them today so they could meet in actual time, and it was so cute.
    Paws up from Scout to your cats, too!

  24. Oh Marylin, my heart is bursting with joy, Scout is absolutely beautiful! I know well that ‘writing on the wall moment’ as you know…paw on the glass? No chance!! 😉 Oh I’m so happy for this happiest of Christmas news from your home, busy and yes, hard work at first as with any new ‘baby’, but all well worth it. We had a Border Collie/Lab mix, Bonnie, got her when eldest son was 2 and she lived to 14. She brought us great joy, as did Monty, our other black Lab as I know Scout also will for you. Not a replacement for dear Maggie, but another of God’s creatures to love and cherish and adore and give a safe, happy home to. Maggie, I’m sure, is smiling at this new too, sorely missed, but never forgotten ❤ Wishing you and your family a wonderful, happy and blessed Christmas and New Year dear Marylin, with lots of puppy love to add to it all. Oh, and I'm planning on making your dear mom's Eggs A'La Goldenrod over Christmas when my family are here, it will be the perfect brunch, and I'll take pics 🙂

    • Oh, Sherri, your fond memories of Bonnie give us reassurance that our Scout will bring us so much joy after all the potty training and hiding every possible thing she decides to take and chew on. Even at this stage, she’s wonderful and we’re so glad we have her. Maggie spoiled us; we’ve sorely missed all the heart-loyalty of a family dog, and now Scout has waddled (and chewed and peed) her way in to fill the spot.
      I would love to know how the Eggs A’La Goldenrod turn out when you serve your family, Sherri. Just remember to serve them nice and hot; there’s nothing worse than luke-warm eggs. 😉
      Bless you for your kind words and encouragement, sweetie!

      • Oh I’m so glad I was able to encourage you about Scout Marylin…those early days with puppy are not easy, but so wonderful you have her and all the joy she’s bringing you and hubby. And yes, I’ll remember that about the eggs, will definitely let you know! I’m so looking forward to serving and eating them, and will tell my family all about them and the lovely lady who gave me the recipe! Merry Christmas wishes my dear friend, sent with love, hugs and blessings galore 🙂 xo

      • Thank you, dear Sherri. You are such a joy.
        I just wrote a comment on your post, about a startling moment in England as I checked into an inn. I’m so glad that you lived in America for awhile and brought some British charm with you; you add a soft, gracious glow to all you do and write! Bless you!

  25. So glad you are again lavishing love on a pet that called to you. I know you will make Scout’s growth and development part of your holiday greeting from now on. We don’t have pets currently, but many of our friends do, and I am always moved by the love they make manifest.

    Greetings to you and yours and very happy holidays. Scouting joy — a good short description of life itself!

  26. Thank you, Shirley. Pets do bring a great deal of “heart and hope” to our lives (and accidents that need to be wiped up immediately. 😉 ) Greetings to you and yours, too, and a very happy “scouting joy”!

  27. Oh my goodness, Marylin, Scout is ADORABLE! What a wonderful Christmas gift for you and your family. And I’m sure Maggie is wagging her tail in agreement. May you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas too. 🙂

    • She is our wonderful Christmas present, Tracy, and yes, we also believe Maggie is supporting Scout’s addition to our family. We haven’t had a puppy in many years, and she’s definitely teaching us how this is supposed to be done (according to the puppy…)
      A wonderful and blessed Christmas to you and yours, Tracy.

  28. Ah, what joy!
    BTW, our family’s Christmas movie-must is ‘Love Actually’.

  29. What a beautiful puppy you have. I hope you have a love filled first Christmas without Maggie.

    • Thank you so much. It will be an adjustment, for sure, but it will definitely also mean more laughter and love at the Christmas tree.
      I read your post about the flying glitch mid-flight. I’m glad you’re back safely…and you didn’t have a puppy along in a kennel! 😉

  30. Molly

    MY SISTER….Scout! I can’t believe that I have to still wait two more days to meet her. I am sure that Maggie is as happy about this new addition as we all are. Maggie would be so happy that you and dad have someone to keep you happy and busy.

    Love you, and already love Scout, too!

  31. And Scout will love you, too, Mookie! She’ll know a soft heart when she sees it, and of course you’ll have fresh energy, patience…and treats! 😉
    We’ll wait and see if Grace is right, and Scout’s blend isn’t border collie with German Shepherd, but with beagle! I wouldn’t bet against my grand-daughter; Grace is very smart. 🙂

  32. Pingback: All Creatures Great and Small: The Power of Pets | Plain and Fancy

    • 🙂 Actually, in some ways, Scout is my muse. Although she gets in the way of my writing (and doing almost everything, actually) she’s my muse for laughter, exercise, and seeing the wonder of sticks and rocks with new eyes. 😉

  33. I love it when folks come together and share opinions.
    Great blog, stick with it!

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