John Scanlan's boyhood dog, Queeny, has long since passed. But her story and the influence she had on Scanlan as a young man will live on.
The Hilton Head Island resident writes about Queeny in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life," published last month.
The 1,000-word story serves as a coming-of-age tale for Scanlan, who grew up with seven siblings in rural southern Ohio. He remembers his beloved dog's life from puppy to mother to her tragic death.
"We had quite a few dogs before her," he said. "But when I think of my boyhood, Queeny was the dog that grew up with me."
Scanlan, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, has recently found success as a writer. He submitted the story about two years ago after trying several times to get stories published in the Chicken Soup series.
He'll soon have two more stories about his childhood in upcoming Chicken Soup anthologies targeted at young adults.
"I just thought I'd take a stab at it, and as it turned out I think I hit it just right," he said.
EXCERPT FROM "A COUNTRY DOG," BY JOHN SCANLAN
Every boy in America should grow up with a dog.
I grew up with Queeny, a mixed-breed mutt that my family rescued from the local dog pound. Obtained as a 1-year-old puppy, Queeny and I were about the same age. With her being 7 in dog years and me being 9 in people years, it was a match made in heaven.
From there, things only got better. Having just moved to a new home in rural, southern Ohio, Queeny and I enjoyed the perfect place for a boy and his dog to grow up together. These bucolic, five acres possessed a peaceful pond, a small woodland and a meandering creek -- all meant to be played in.
And play we did! Queeny ran the bases with me when my brothers and I played baseball. Queeny jogged along beside me during bicycle rides. Queeny revealed my hiding spots when we boys played hide-and-seek. Queeny was my scout dog when we played Army.
However, over those two years of playing, Queeny matured faster than I did. She became a frisky female of 21 dog years, while I became an ignorant boy of 11 people years.