Scotty is a 14 year-old Border Collie, one of the most lovable dogs that I know. He lives with us at my Grandparents' house because my aunt and uncle couldn't take him to Kenya; he still talks with Charles on the phone at Christmas and Thanksgiving and holidays like that. (Yes, your dog will recognize your voice on the telephone.)

Being 14 years old, Scotty is very arthritic; watching him get up and try to stretch his ancient muscles almost makes my joints ache. Because of this reduced mobility, an average day for Scotty consists mostly of lying in the sun for hours on end, with an occasional walk or car ride when grandma or grandpa go anywhere, and the daily chore of cleaning pots and plates after supper. That was his routine, anyway, until last week.

Scotty's final remaining athletic abilities are stick-fetching and coyote chasing. Stick fetching gets old fast, what with two other border collies (Blessing and her pup Gopher) for competition. Coyote chasing, on the other hand, has always been Scotty's specialty. Almost every evening, just as the moon begins to rise, the packs of coyotes down in the ravine begin to yip and howl to each other; this is the signal for action. Scotty gets up from his corner, stretches his limbs, and whines at the door until someone will let him out. Then it's around the house and off down the bank of the ravine to find those dastardly mutts and bark at them; you can hardly tell that Scotty's arthritic when there are coyotes around.

Last week, the coyotes pulled one over on old Scotty. Grandma found him lying on the porch in the morning, bleeding and whimpering. He'd been bitten a few times in the hind quarters, but if you looked closely you could tell that he was bruised all over. Those coyotes can be pretty dangerous when they gang up on a dog; Grandma said there was a little dog at the vet who had been torn from end to end. Luckily, Scotty only needed five stitches, but he lost most of the fur on his tail to the vet's clippers, and his pride took a real beating.

Scotty is forced to stay inside now, or to endure the humiliation of a rope on his collar when he's out sunbathing. Grandma and Grandpa let him off the lead once in a while, but he's starting to sneak away over the bank when Grandma turns her back. She scolds him when he returns, but an old-time coyote hound like Scotty wouldn't dream of giving up his patrol to a one-year-old pup like Gopher.

I'm tempted to untie him sometimes, but mostly I've just been sneaking treats out to him. It's not hard for him to get away from grandma anyway; she's just as arthritic as Scotty is, but he doesn't seem to care when it comes to the possibility of an unchallenged pack of coyotes.

Go get 'em, Scotty.

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