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Thursday, June 14, 2012

A day of firsts, part 2

The afternoon of May 18.


FLD Scout and I have a busy day ahead of us after the 2nd-grade field trip to the high school pool. Next stop, The Skate Place in West Branch to cover a story for the Ogemaw County Voice. This is the day that Rose City Middle School students with good grades and citizenship are rewarded with an afternoon of free skating.

The parking lot is empty except for two buses, but when I open the entrance door the noise of a crowd rolls over us. The owner of the place sits in an office behind a high counter-top window, like he's taking bets on a horse race.

FLD Scout is a good ambassador when I'm out on assignment for the Voice. She puts my interviewees at ease; after a few minutes of explaining what puppy raising for Leader Dogs for the Blind means, they are relaxed and open to my questions. Scout is no different here. Before I know it, the owner introduces me to his wife and the three of us are chatting like we're long-lost friends.

As I'm taking notes (with FLD Scout sitting calmly next to me), a young teen rolls by on one skate, his other leg kicked up trying to counter balance his imminent butt plant. Scout doesn't break her sit. At the last moment, the boy grabs a counter and saves himself. "I've crashed seven times," he says, grinning like the Cheshire cat.

Eventually I break away from the owners to interview Mr. Erickson, chaperone and science teacher. He sits near the opening to the maple-wood floor of the rink. The room is dark except for the flashes from the sparkling round strobe light hanging above the skating arena. His shirt collar glows neon white and when I glance at my notepad, it is glowing too. Everywhere, everything white is luminous. I doubt that FLD Scout even notices. Her nose is to the rainbow and black-carpeted floor.

I am pleasantly surprised that Scout is so calm with the racket of the teens surrounding us. I leave her with Erickson and two girls who fawn over her while I venture into the rink for photos. Scout never even notices I'm gone.

FLD Scout tolerates the attention of two Rose City middle-schoolers.


Our day is not done. After The Skate Place, I have an interview with a Master Gardener for another story. FLD Scout curls up on the passenger side floor and snoozes for the short drive to her garden-ringed home not far out of town. Marlane is gracious and allows Scout to roam her house while we chat in the kitchen. She even fills a water dish. I suppose we talk too long--eventually Scout settles at my feet on the cool tile floor.

Outside, it's picture time. As we wander around raised vegetable gardens and winding flower beds, Scout notices a horse in a pen behind the barn. She strains against the leash with her nose wagging in the air. Marlane invites us to meet the brown and white dusty mare, but it takes Scout a while to realize she's not going anywhere pulling like that.

Finally we reach the fence. The mare ducks her head to get a sniff of this black dog. Scout has second thoughts and backs away. The horse does too. I hang out with Scout outside of the fence until she's comfy. Marlane enters the pen and asks us to follow.

What gets Scout over her trepidation is the horse smell on the gardener's hand. Horse and dog never get nose-to-nose, but close enough.

Marlane: Master Gardener, Master Mediator.

It's been an eventful day for FLD Scout!


  1. Way to go, Scout! It think you were "glowing" at the skating ring. This was a celebratory, beautiful read!

    Happy seeing beautiful!