No bones about it

Scout, Colchester’s top dog, will lead Fourth of July parade

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Erin Bessy, left, and her daughter, Julia, sit with their dog, Scout, behind their house in Colchester.  No doubt Scout’s serious expression indicates that she is contemplating her patriotic duties. PHOTO | OLIVER PARINI

Erin Bessy, left, and her daughter, Julia, sit with their dog, Scout, behind their house in Colchester. No doubt Scout’s serious expression indicates that she is contemplating her patriotic duties.
PHOTO | OLIVER PARINI

By Jason Starr
The Colchester Sun

In an 8-year-old Labrador retriever named Scout, Colchester has found a fitting representative of American independence and perseverance to lead the town’s Fourth of July celebration

The dog, a rescue from Arkansas adopted by the Bessy family of Colchester, survived two months in the woods around Middle Road in the dead of winter earlier this year after running away from a petsitter while her owners were on Christmas vacation. Her rescue became a community effort in Colchester’s village neighborhoods and her return, scrawny and scared, to the Bessys warmed the hearts of many in the community.

Scout recently was named grand marshal of Colchester’s 46th annual July Fourth parade.

“We thought it was something that brought the community together,” said event coordinator Jennifer Turmel of the Colchester Parks and Recreation Department. “We haven’t done something like this before … and we thought it would be perfect.”

Scout will lead the procession riding in a jeep down Main Street starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Fourth of July celebration continues with an evening party at Bayside Park and a fireworks show at dusk. For the community’s active-minded, the day will begin with a 5-kilometer “Fun Run” starting at 8 a.m. at Union Memorial School. On-site registration for the run begins at 7:30 a.m.

“We typically get a larger crowd and a crowd that stays out later (when the Fourth falls on a Saturday),” Turmel said.

Community effort

Scout endured the coldest stretch of the coldest winter in recent memory in the woods around Middle Road. The Bessy family was out of town, and Scout — a naturally skittish and shy dog, according to owner Erin Bessy — scooted out of the front door of the neighbor she was staying with. She wandered for 52 days, spotted occasionally by residents, before a food trap saved her.

Social media was a key tool in spreading the word and recruiting people to help by leaving barn doors open and food out.

“It was, frankly, very traumatizing,” Bessy said. “She is part of our family. We knew she was out there, and we couldn’t get her home. And it was unbelievably cold. It was a very emotionally draining experience.”

Scout has been a friendlier and more relaxed dog since the incident, Bessy said.

“We couldn’t say no,” she said of the Parks and Recreation Department’s request to name her parade grand marshal. “Without the help of the community, she would have been lost to us. Having her as the grand marshal is a way to thank the community and show that she is home and doing well.”