Copyright 1999 - 2004
Howard D. Dickens
Begin Date June 6, 1999
Ms Scotty Bear El Doggo Dickens
In my earlier years I never paid much attention to
dogs. I knew many people who kept them for pets
or guard dogs. Actually I thought of dog owners as
people who gave affection to a dumb animal while
neglecting millions of children who should be
getting that affection. I got that idea from
reading a book by Billy Sunday, a famous
Evangelist of many years ago. This book was my
grandmother's and that made it gospel to me.
Billy Sunday criticized people who gave attention
to animals when there were so many unloved
children. I admired Billy Sunday and if he said
it and it was in my grandmother's book it must
be true I thought. Case closed.
My Aunt Floy was an example. She and my grand
mother raised my younger brother and me. When I
was in my early teens Aunt Floy got married and
moved into a new house. Aunt Floy was childless.
She adopted a dog. It was one of those little
brown, shorthaired, nervous, loud mouths which
she always carried in her arms like a piece of
fur to keep her hands warm. I remember those big
bug-eyes peering out while that loud mouth barked
at me like I was the original dog devil as the
brown furball snuggled back deeper into Aunt
Floy's bosom. I don't know of anyone in the
family who liked that dog. When Aunt Floy came
to visit, people would say, "Here comes that
obnoxious dog again." I always thought my aunt
should have read Billy Sunday's book of sermons.
Years passed. I married, had children, divorced,
and one day I found myself remarried to a lady
named Sarah who often spoke of her deepest
heartache: a little dog who had been her constant
companion for many years and whom she had watched
die. She couldn't say much about this without
crying so it wasn't a subject for discussion. I
would just listen and wonder.
Sarah had a dog when we married. A big black
whatchamacallit. She was very fond of this living
garbage disposal and he accompanied us on a
trip to South Texas in a motor home. One night
we parked on South Padre Island to rest beside
the ocean. I had dozed off to sleep when the
police banged on the door. I opened the door and
two large policemen ordered us out of the area
because it was closed for the night. We decided
to head back toward TN. I was driving and I
decided to stop in Galveston for gas at about two
o'clock in the morning. Sarah was going to walk
the dog. But there was no dog. There aren't many
hiding places in a motor home for a big fleabag
and we hadn't stopped anywhere since leaving
South Padre Island. She demanded that we go back
and find the dog. It would take hours to retrace
those miles. I protested, "Hey, it's only a dog.
You want to drive all that way to look for a dog?"
She did. And we did.
There wasn't a dog to be found on South Padre
Island. We looked everywhere, asked many people.
No dog. Finally we had to give up or take up
residency so we headed back to TN. My wife was
crushed. I didn't understand. I told her we
could pick up another dog anywhere. She replied
that she never wanted another dog. Never again.
I didn't understand.
One day in 1981 I was sitting at the typewriter,
practicing. I typed the usual exercises and then
I began to ad lib a little. I typed, "Where is
the dog?" Now that was a perfectly normal thing
to type under the circumstances. We had been
married for about two years and I had heard so
much about dogs that I just typed the words
without thinking. Sarah wasn't home. I stared at
the words, "Where is the dog?" I typed, "We have
no dog." I typed, "Why?" I typed, "I don't know."
At that moment I decided to call the Humane
Shelter and see if they had any good dogs for
The lady at the Humane Shelter was so excited to
hear from me. They had just picked up a female
Scottish Terrier and she needed a home. The lady
said that she already had ten dogs at home and
her husband would not allow another dog to be
brought in and would I please come and take the
Scottie? I knew about Scottish Terriers. When I
was a much younger man I knew a fellow who had
one. That was the only real one I had ever seen
but that Scottie dog was so pretty that I had
When Sarah came home I told her to get ready to
take a short trip. She couldn't believe that I
had actually called about a dog. We were both
excited as we departed for the Humane Shelter to
pick up our dog.
When we arrived at the Shelter, we went in and I
introduced myself. The lady was so happy to see
us. She told the attendant to bring the Scottish
Terrier. In a little while, the attendant
appeared with an animal. It didn't look like
the Scottie I remembered. It was a twenty-five
pound bundle of long black fur that dragged the
ground. You couldn't even see her face for the
long hair. She was definitely unfriendly, aloof,
independent and she wanted nothing to do with
The lady said that the Scottie had been roaming
around some stores next to a busy highway. She
was eating out of garbage cans and crossing the
highway. She obviously belonged to no one and was
just wandering wildly from place to place. One
of the storeowners had called to have her picked
up before she was hit by a car. There was no
collar, no ID of any kind.
The folks at the Humane Shelter thought she might
be about two years old. They theorized she escaped
from a tourist passing through and ... "Will you
take her? She'll clean up real good." I said, "YES."
I paid the fee, got her tag, and we headed home
with -- a dog -- a Scottie Dog!
Our first stop on the way home was at the groomers.
They had a tough time clipping and dipping but
they got it done. Now she looked like a Scottie
Dog. Next we stopped to show off our new dog to
Sarah's older brother Bernie. Now, Bernie didn't
like dogs at all. One of his usual complaints was
that the neighborhood dogs were always peeing on
his car tires and messing in his flowers.
He kept a pile of small rocks handy as ammunition
to use against canine trespassers.
We pulled into Bernie's driveway. I carried our
new dog while Sarah ran ahead excitedly yelling
for Bernie. When Bernie came outside to see what
all the fuss was about he spotted the black,
snarling, squirming Scottie I held and asked,
"What the hell is that?" I said, "It's a Scottie
dog." He stared at the Scotty face for several
seconds before muttering, "Looks like a damned bear
cub to me." From that day on she was called
Ms Scotty Bear.