Wednesday, February 15, 2006

So Long, Molly

Molly and Bridget
Click to embiggen

I'm very sad today and I'm really writing this for myself. Molly passed away yesterday evening.

We got her in '99 from Reno Animal Control. We think she was about 3 years old at the time, but we really don't know. Mrs. G stepped into her cell to introduce herself and Molly up and gave her a big sloppy kiss. That settled that! We took her home and gave her seven more years than she would have gotten otherwise.

Molly was large for the breed, English Springer Spaniel, slender all her life, drop-dead gorgeous, very athletic and was obsessed with tennis balls, sorta like a canine Serena Williams. She was the fastest thing on four feet, and when she caught up to a ball she would likely as not go ass over teakettle. Then she would bring it back and drop it at my feet, "let's go again, Daddy!". Some of the neighborhood kids called her a "stampede". She also loved to chase squirrels, to the point I cut the lower limbs off the pine tree in my front yard to keep her from climbing it. She never caught one and wouldn't have known what to do with it if she had.

She was very gentle and calm of demeanor when not playing ball. She was very trusting. You could do anything with her. She never once even play-nipped at anyone except other dogs. She wouldn't have hurt anything for the world. She was quiet and never barked very much. She was always ready to go for a ride in the pickup.

We had a lot of good times with her. She was member of the family.

A couple of months ago, she started having a little trouble getting into the pickup. We figured she had worn out her hind legs, as she had been diagnosed several years ago with mild hip dysplasia. She had slowed down chasing the ball a couple of years ago, so we just figured she was getting on in years like us. A few weeks ago she started leaving food in her bowl. By now she sometimes needed assistance to get to her feet, so we took her to the vet.

The vet noticed something we hadn't: her lower legs and feet were about twice normal size. The pictures showed an angel-hair-like bone growth, symptomatic of some internal problem. This turned out to be a huge tumor on her liver which had pushed her stomach out of the way. That was why she couldn't eat much. The doc said she didn't have long to live.

All we could do was give her a little extra attention and try to keep her comfortable. The doc sent us home with some steroid pills which helped. With them, she could get to her feet OK. I still threw the ball for her, but not very far. She sorta padded after it and brought it back. A couple of times tired her out.

This past Monday, she seemed better. She took a whole 3/8-mile walk with Mrs. G for the first time in weeks. She padded after the ball several times. She even kept me company out in the garage while I did a little mechanical work. In hindsight, it almost seems like she just wanted to get a normal day's activities in one last time.

Yesterday she refused food and water. She was more sluggish than normal. I knew this was serious and told Mrs. G to expect the worst. We knew we had to make The Decision pretty soon.

She saved us from having to make that decision. While Mrs. G was petting and talking to her, she simply exhaled and didn't inhale any more. She died like she lived, quietly, no fuss or bother. Mrs. G came and got me from the other room and I pronounced her at ten minutes to seven.

Molly's passing leaves a big hole in our lives. Even Bridget was looking around for Molly and seemed confused by her absence, even sad. We've gone through the loss before. We know to skip Denial, Anger, and Bargaining, and go right to Sorrow and Acceptance. It doesn't ever make it any easier. As Richard Petty said on Dale Earnhardt's passing, "It don't do no good to put a question mark on what the Lord done put a period on." Ungrammatical, but it makes the point.

When you make the decision to keep a dog, please bear in mind that this is the occasional price you have to pay for all the fun, and the unconditional love and trust they give. All they want is a home where they feel safe and wanted, food, love, and a little attention. They want to be wanted just like we do. They give it back tenfold.

We'll get over this, and in a few weeks, or a coupla months, we'll go rescue another one. It's for damn sure worth it.

Please forgive my babbling. If I'd waited a coupla days I probably wouldn't have written this, but today I had to.

No comments: