Pet Spotlight: Scarlett the Loyal Watchdog

Millikin Political Science Professor Dr. Laura Dean is a happy camper with her four-year old rescue dog named Scarlett. According to her vet, Scarlett is a boxer-hound mix, but according to facial recognition software, Scarlett is a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a type of African lion dog. Whatever the case, Scarlett is quite a character.   

A few years ago, Dr. Dean and her husband went to a shelter in Atlanta, Georgia, to take a look at the dogs. They were petting Scarlett, and her husband decided to ask about the dog. The owner told him the shelter was going to be closed tomorrow, and since it was a kill shelter, she was due to be put down at any time. Her husband told the shelter owner, “We’ll be back in three hours.”

Sure enough, a few hours later, they went to the shelter and picked up Scarlett. And the rest, as they say, has been history in the making. In spending time as a member of the Dean household, Scarlett has developed quite a few quirks up her sleeves.

For instance, her list of arch nemeses includes bunny rabbits, men, and squirrels. If they get too close to the house, Scarlett would be the first being to let the world know what’s going on. And every stranger would get a good sniff or two to make sure they’re not dangerous. She would warm up to you if you present her with some food.

Given that she was found malnourished in the Atlanta, Georgia, streets, Scarlett would eat just about anything that’s been given to her. She is food-motivated, and she even enjoys eating grass. “That’s the thing with any type of dog that goes through any trauma,” Dr. Dean said. “She never knows where her next meal is coming from, which is kind of sad.”  

But by far the most intriguing things she would want to get close to are dead squirrels. She would attempt to eat them before being dragged away. Eating dead things off the side of the road was most likely the norm in Scarlett’s past life, and like most addictions, old destructive habits can be hard to break.

Happily, however, Scarlett also enjoys the simple pleasures of playing with squeaky toys. She enjoys it so much, she would play detective and try to find where the squeak is coming from, which results in her chewing the toy to shreds. “If a toy is there for longer than three months, it would be surprising,” Dr. Dean said.

Being a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Scarlett’s not a huge fan of cold weather. With that in mind, she’s constantly fascinated with snow. Growing up in the southern states, she had never seen snow before. She would be constantly perplexed by the snow and would never know what to do with it.

Scarlett also loves to run. Every morning, Dr. Dean would take Scarlett on a two-mile run. Dr. Dean would often get comments saying the dog is walking her as opposed to the other way around. Dr. Dean has a hands-off type of leash, which means if Scarlett sees a squirrel and darts after it, she’d be dragging Dr. Dean along with her.

But Dr. Dean loves Scarlett all the same, quirks and all. It’s funny that it’s so, because at the start it was Dr. Dean’s husband who really wanted the dog. Dean was a little more hesitant to adopt a dog since they constantly moved. Eventually she relented, and now she has a dog who’s profusely devoted to her.

Scarlett would follow Dr. Dean everywhere. She adores her owner. She would often watch her as she walks or drives away. “One of the most redeeming things is that I don’t think I’ll ever find a dog as loving or loyal as mine does,” Dr. Dean said.