He’s (old) man’s best friend.
A mischievous mutt has repeatedly escaped a local Michigan animal shelter to rendezvous at a nearby nursing home.
Scout, a pup of unknown origins, scaled multiple tall fences and crossed a highway in the dead of night until he wandered into Bellaire’s Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility through the automatic doors and nestled on their leather lobby love seat for the evening.
The following morning, a nurse stumbled upon the stray and phoned Antrim County Animal Control, who realized they were missing the dog.
Despite the sheriff retrieving Scout from the nursing home, the canine miraculously made his way back the next night. And again a couple nights later.
That’s when Marna Robertson, the administrator for Meadow Brook, threw up her hands.
“I’m a person who looks at outward signs, and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” Robertson 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?’”
And Scout had tails wagging. The residents, many of whom have dementia, terminal illnesses or no one to care for them, were thrilled to have the pooch around. He made the facilities feel more like home.
“When you’re home you have your pets, and you don’t get to have that here,” said 49-year-old Rhonda Thomczak, an administrative assistant at the facility’s Glacier Hill residences, where the pup was initially found.
“Having a dog around makes it feel like home.”
Scout is trusted with free rein of the Glacier Hill cottage and can be found wandering the halls and making his rounds — he’s even learned to open closed doors with his paw and which retirees will sneak him treats.
“He’ll always let you pet him and lets you talk to him if you need someone to talk to,” said Shirley Sawyer, 82, just one of the 20-some Glacier Hill residents. “It’s very nice.”
Scout is regular visitor of Sawyer’s brother, Bob Shumaker, who, when hounded enough times by Scout’s wet snout in the middle of the night, will give the pooch a biscuit as a midnight snack. He also sniffs out cookies from Butch Craig, 80, and buries them in the elderly artist’s chair for later.
Other than his affinity for treats, no one knows much about Scout, a name given to him by the shelter, which found pellet marks in his jowls.
All they know is he came from an abusive household and arrived scared. Even still, he ambles cautiously through the nursing home. His tail, even while wagging, seems heavy, and he’s skittish upon hearing the jingle of keys or loud sounds.
The nursing home staff believe the “safe environment” at Meadow Brook lured Scout in.
“He certainly has a penchant for the elders. He’s very in tune with what they need, especially our very vulnerable population,” Robertson explained.
“If they have dementia or if they’re dying he knows that, and he will go and be with them and comfort them. He must’ve just felt like he needed to be here.”
But, above all else, Scout has assumed his very serious role as protector: He checks on everyone to ensure their safety and sizes up unfamiliar guests.
“He just kind of knows who belongs or doesn’t,” said Jenni Martinek, the nursing home’s household coordinator.
Scout, for one, certainly belongs in his adopted pack of pensioners.
“I think he knows that this is his home and he is all of ours, so that gives him a sense of security,” Thomczak said. “And I think he just wants to protect that.”