The Great Escape

Story by Rebecca West
Photos by Meadow Brook Care Facility
Shielded by the cover of darkness, he was dressed in black as he stood quietly listening. Intent on his purpose, the only sound he could hear was that of his own heart beating loudly in his chest. As he inched toward the wall, the steady rhythm was now thundering in his ears as he crept onward with the stealth of a cat.

The first time he dared risk it, he had paced for hours before finally making his move toward freedom. He’d made quite a bit of noise in the process, which may have been his undoing in the end. He still wasn’t sure how they’d managed to catch on to him so quickly, but he was determined not to make the same mistake twice. Since that brief taste of autonomy before being hauled back by the local sheriff, all he could think about was making his way back.

This time, the Traverse City, Michigan, escape artist knew precisely where he was going, so he should be able to shave time off his journey — as long as the harrowing maze of traffic held off at this time of night. There was no reason to think it wouldn’t, which gave him a small measure of comfort, but it was a terrifying gauntlet of light and sound nonetheless.

With the strength of an athlete and the heart of a lion, he threw himself at the first hurdle to begin the long, arduous journey up and hopefully over. Gripping his toes with all of his might, he could feel himself slipping at times, and the strain in his muscles burning stronger with every forced movement surged through his body, but he would not give up. It was only 7-10 feet, by his guesstimation, and the first leap allowed him to clear at least 3 to 4 feet of it.

Getting down the other side without seriously injuring himself was where the real challenge lie. He’d have to rest for a few moments before attempting the next obstacle, a 6-foot privacy fence with a smooth surface that allowed no purchase. The thought was not nearly as daunting as the highway ahead, but he wouldn’t worry about that bridge until he had to cross it.

As he leapt off the top of the lower wall and landed soundlessly on the ground below, he wasted no time and began to weave silently through the neighborhood. He’d pause occasionally to test the winds for familiar smells in addition to the external cues, but he was confident in his movements. It was only a few miles, and he’d be there. As he approached the normally busy road, he was grateful for the lack of traffic and moved briskly across the lanes.

Nearing his destination, he instinctively picked up the pace before the outline of the automatic doors came into view off in the distance. Once his weight activated the sensors, he slipped inside noiselessly, making his way to the comfort of the sofa he’d been dreaming of all day. Home at last! That is until morning, when he was once again discovered and reported to the authorities.

This was Scout’s second offense, and there was no telling what lengths they’d go to to ensure it never happened again. When it did just two nights later, everyone knew what had to be done, and it needed to be swift and permanent — adoption was the only answer.

Confused? Don’t be. Scout’s a handsome stray who managed to escape from Antrim County Animal Control in northern Michigan not once, not twice, but three times, each and every one of which he ended up at Meadow Brook, a long-term care residence about an hour northeast of Traverse City.

While we ordinarily concentrate on events central to Arizona, this is a story that is so heartwarming it just had to be shared. Scout, who came to the shelter with little to no background info, was an enigma. One thing that was obvious, however, was that Scout behaved in a manner that suggested an abused life prior to ending up at Antrim.

“I’m a person who looks at outward signs, and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” Marna Robertson, the nursing home’s administrator, told the Detroit Free Press. “He did that one time, two times, three times, and obviously, that’s something that you should pay attention to. And I asked the staff, ‘Well, he wants to be here. Would anybody like to have a dog?’”

As it turned out, pretty much the entire community in residence at Meadow Brook wanted a dog, and Scout wanted them. Since his adoption in 2017, it’s been reported that he is a gentle soul who enjoys his daily visits to the residents’ rooms (he even knows how to open closed doors) and spends the final hours with those nearing the end of their journey by staying firmly by their side until they pass.

Basically, he brings joy to everyone he comes into contact with and is protective of his housemates. For instance, when residents decide to take some fresh air, Scout accompanies them and keeps a close eye on the surroundings to ensure their safety. Thought to be about 9 years old, a recent DNA test concluded he’s a Heinz 57 made up of 23 breeds, with the top 5 being Labrador retriever, chow, rottweiler, English shepherd, and greyhound.

For their part, the staff and residents love him and likely can’t imagine life without him now. According to worker Stephanie Elsey, “Scout being here makes it feel much less like an institution and more like a loving family home.” She added, “The dog is so popular people are resorting to bribery to get his attention.”

“I think it reminds them of being home,” said Rhonda Thomczak, administrative assistant at the facility, who was kind enough to speak with us and supply photographs. And Scout knows a good thing when he sees it, as some residents keep dog biscuits in their walkers or tucked inside their bedside tables, and he reportedly knows where to find them.

If you’d like to follow Scout and learn more about him and his philanthropy efforts, he has his own Facebook page after going viral this fall for his Houdini-like antics. You can check him out at facebook.com/people/Scouts-House-Paws-for-the-Pantry/61550976931045/.



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