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TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Scout, a golden retriever owned by West Linn resident Melissa Heinonen, might be the most popular dog in Oregon with more than 60,000 Instagram fans. After their two dogs had passed away, the Heinonens were very lonely.

So the West Linn family went shopping for a new dog and found a golden retriever puppy, which they named Scout. He was wonderful and cute, just like any puppy, but he has turned out to be so much more. In fact, Scout seems to be turning into a world figure. Melissa Heinonen, mother of the family, is beside herself with excitement and pride.

“My kids suggested we put Scout’s picture on Instagram,” Heinonen said. “Now he has 60,000 friends all over the world. Now we post one or two photos every day. Scout is absolutely gorgeous. He looks like a show dog. He’s mellow and calm for being such a young age.”

Humans putting photos of their cute dogs on Instagram is not uncommon, but Scout, who is almost two, seems to have some indefinable star quality that merits a much stronger attraction. The response to him has been tremendous, and the comments on Scout’s Instagram photos are gushing with admiration. Apparently what the world needs now is Scout. Heinonen wants to feed that attention.

“Scout can educate and inspire people and make them happy,” Heinonen said. “My dog is a philanthropist.”

Yes, this furry philanthropist has proven to be a fine fundraiser. Thanks to Scout, the Heinonens have met up with other dog enthusiasts in Lake Oswego and West Linn, and they gather to promote and raise money for many good doggie causes, like dog shelters, Oregon Dog Rescue, the recent Oregon Humane Society telethon, Paws for Cause and Golden Bond Rescue, which saves dogs from the disturbingly popular dog meat market in China.

Besides starring at fundraisers, Scout now gets all kinds of stuff in the mail, like dog clothes, dog beds, dog treats and much more. Heinonen and a friend have created a product in Scout’s honor, called Paws, Wishes and Kisses. It is a little box filled with items that celebrate the life of deceased pet.

Although he is already famous, Scout is not a finished product, and Heinonen has him on a stringent course of self-improvement. He does tricks like holding a bunch of bananas in his mouth and is taking puppy classes at PetSmart to earn certification as a Canine Good Citizen. Once he is old enough, Scout will have a career in pet therapy.

Heinonen said, "Scout is getting a lot of attention. I want more people to know Scout because he can make them happy.”

The people Scout is making happiest are the Heinonen family.

“Scout isn’t just a dog,” Heinonen said, “he’s a lifestyle.”

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