The Natural Horseman – A Family’s Best Friend

By Steve Stevens 

We laid to rest a truly beautiful spirit a couple of weeks ago, our twelve-year-old rescue dog, a mix of Australian Shepherd and Husky, “Scarlett.”

As I have spent some time reflecting on our loss, I know the saying goes a “Man’s best Friend,” but Scarlett was more than that. She was the “Family’s Best Friend.”

My wife and I came upon Scarlett during a time very early in our relationship. She was maybe our first choice of relationship responsibility. I had come across her during a random stop at a local shelter. Although she was a puppy, she seemed to have an old soul and appreciation for life. She didn’t seem phased by the road she had not chosen.

Scarlett looked directly into my eyes with a unique sparkle, and I knew we had to have her. I called Amanda and told her she just had to see her. The moment they met it was no longer a choice but a need to have this little big eared black, grey and white puppy in our life. We had to buy her in a bidding option and there was one other lady making her attempt to out bid us. Amanda grabbed my arm tight and twisted hard, and gave me a look I have come to know as “don’t mess this up.” We paid way more than we had expected on a rescue, but her value would soon become unparalleled.

Looking back, there was only one being with Amanda and me from the beginning of our relationship and that has been Scarlett. Scarlett was named after Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind.”

Much like the character, Scarlett became the strength of our family, the one that held us together. She was beautiful, tough, a little spoiled.

The Stevens with their beloved Scarlett. (Photo courtesy of the Stevens family)

Our Scarlett was very kind, kind to all comers.

I started thinking how Scarlett had been there on all of our youthful adventures as we loved to travel the American West. We dragged her all over the place, to the mountains, to the desert searching for wild Mustangs, back and forth to Scottsdale, Arizona, to visit Amanda’s parents and family, to Gallup, New Mexico, to see my dear friend Sonny. She loved to play in the snow; there she was probably at her happiest. She also loved meeting new people. Sometimes people could be intimidated by her because of her size and bark, but she never hurt a soul.

She was with us when we left California to move to our first home in Texas to live our new adventure on a ranch. She chased wild turkey and ran with the horses there. She was there when we brought our newborn son home then when we brought our new daughter home. She protected them and I always felt safe when I was not there. I knew she would watch over. She cuddled up tight next to us when a tornado hit our home in Cleburne.

Training horses can be a very lonely job, a lot of time spent outside riding on your own. That would have been the case, but Scarlett was always there with me for nearly every ride. She loved being outside with me and the horses. I always felt safe when she was watching.

Scarlett was there in our most trying time when Amanda got diagnosed with cancer. I can’t tell you how many times I would get down on the floor and squeeze her and cry to her when no one was watching, as I felt she was the only one I could share my fears with with.

She greeted each new member of the family with joy. First Melanie, (also named from “Gone with the Wind”) the crazy sick kitten that showed up in the barn and then her best friend, “Woodrow,” the little funny corgi mix that we took in when we knew better.

She always smiled and wagged her tail with such appreciation when we would come back home after being gone for an hour or a week.

Scarlett introduced our young children to how beautiful owning a dog can be.

Scarlett walked this earth with Grace, love and pride. I can picture her now, running and hopping through lush fields of green grass, cutting back and forth as she did in her youth, like she is working a wild Corriente steer.

I know she is in a place where her pain is gone. We love you Scarlett.

The sweet, loving, four-legged best friend, Scarlett. (Photo courtesy of the Stevens family)