DISCLAIMER: This is not gut busting funny. There might be some latent snark. But I’m basically writing a little love note to Molly Dawgs, whom I’ve had the pleasure (and pain) of knowing since she was 10 weeks old. . .way back in 8/98.
So we have this old dog. She’s not much to look at these days. Her once sleek black coat is dull and sheds in dander-riddled clumps. Her perfect little muzzle has gone gray. Her belly too.
She was born in mid-summer of 1998 and a few short weeks later, I plucked her from her siblings and mother out of a dusty yard in the mountains of west-central Pennsylvania, wrapped her in a towel and drove her to Baltimore in the front seat of my red Geo Metro.
She didn’t come from a breeder, although her mother was a pure-bred Labrador Retriever and her Father must have been close.
What she lacked in papers, she certainly made up for in promise.
She looked at me all doe-eyed and I felt my heart hurt a little.
She rode the whole way to Baltimore barely making a peep.
My heart and head started hurting way more after that honeymoon of a trip.
She was a mess of a dog! She ate shoes, and furniture, and clothes, and ant traps, and part of a live rooster (one time – long story). And pillows, and down duvets, and whole racks of ribs, and cat litter, and dead fish.
She ran and swam tirelessly.
She drove me to tears on more than one occasion with her antics. . .but no matter what: It was me and her.
I had just moved to Baltimore and I had no friends and I had rented a dilapidated 2-room waterfront shack in nearly the middle of nowhere. The place had no heat and terrible plumbing.
Many a Friday night, Molly and I would sit alone together bundled up sharing some spaghetti for dinner listening to the radio (I couldn’t afford TV). And after I had a few glasses of red wine (because I could drink red wine then without a headache), we’d listen to Jimmy Buffet CDs and dance and play around a Kerosene heater until the dawn nearly broke.
And Saturday morning, we’d go to the grocery store to buy bagged salad, canned soup, more spaghetti, peanut butter and sliced cheese. . .because sometimes I couldn’t even afford dog food. Molly ate what I ate.
Maybe we’d also visit my Dad who lived not too far away. . .And Dad would look at my gigantic wool hat and sweater in a concerned way and ask if I was warm enough. I always answered affirmatively, ’cause you know, I had Molly.
Dad? He still knew I was dirt poor. So once in a while, he’d call and tell me he had left an envelope of cash – usually $100 at the bar not too far from where he lived. I’d go to the bar, get the envelope, buy a $6.50 shrimp salad sandwich on good crusty bread and a $1.50 draft. The rest? Gas, Kerosene, kits to fix the shitty assed plumbing in my shack. (Yes, I learned how to solder copper pipes). I never wanted any help but he did it in a way I could accept.
And after that first long winter, I got a job I hated and I was still dirt poor, but after putting in some time, I discovered a perk: A new employee. He was funny with dark hair, dark eyes and a quiet, gentle-confident kinda’ air about him. . .
We talked a little but he didn’t seem to be interested. Or maybe he was shy? Or had a thing about dating co-workers?
I had to know. I also had to go away for work. Someone had to watch Molly. I couldn’t afford to kennel her or have a dog sitter. Plus one time I asked the neighbors to dog-sit and all they did was drink a case of beer I had in the fridge and let the dog eat dead fish all afternoon and crap all over the house. I was young, I didn’t realize neighbors that have their car repo’ed from the bank make lousy pet sitters.
My Father had reminded me over and over that you should never trust a man who doesn’t like kids or dogs. And I was just young and brave enough to test his theory.
So I mustered all my guts and called this funny, handsome guy at his home. . .and asked him if he’d like to watch my dog. In return? I’d treat him to dinner. (A diabolical plan, no?)
Imagine my surprise when HIS FATHER answered the phone. Chris was living with his parents because he had recently moved home after working for a few years in Colorado.
Rumor has it when I called and his Father answered, his Father said to him “I think it’s your boss.” Poor Chris, who could have guessed how painfully accurate that remark would become.
Luckily for me, MY DAD was right too. Molly loved Chris. Chris loved Molly. And for some inexplicable reason, they both loved me.
We got an apartment. We got a bigger bed. (Sleeping with a guy and a 70 lb dog in a twin bed gets old fast). We got a cat. A house. Another cat. Another dog. Earned a Law Degree. Got married. Renovated a house. Lost a Dog. Got another cat. Lost a cat. Got another dog. Worked on some more hard-earned professional certifications. There was another cat. Had a baby. . .
And always, Molly was there. Our little Binky Boo Bear.
She sat with us quietly when we were sad. She trembled a little when Chris yelled at the Jets games on TV. She had great dog friendly vacations with us. She still pilfered entire racks of ribs. . .
And then one day about 4 years ago, she started limping: Hip dysplasia.
I remember emailing my Father – a little distraught.
He called later. ”Ah, DL, the sad thing about pets is they never live as long as you do.”
Dad himself didn’t live much longer after he told me that. . .
Molly was there for that too.
In the past few days, as Molly has been in a seemingly serious decline. I’m struggling with my options.
And I’ve been thinking maybe Dad only got it half right: Yes, never trust a man who doesn’t like kids or dogs. . .but certain pets become so much a part of your life, their legend will live forever. . .a lifetime pet.
If ever there was a lifetime pet, it would be one that brought Chris to me, as Molly did so effortlessly – with all of her bad manners and adorable wiggling and tail wagging.
I firmly believe the best way to exit this world whether you are human or animal is to leave with your parts spent in a peaceful, quiet way.
Molly has had a decade and a half of happily wearing out all her parts. And as difficult as it will be, Chris and I are determined she exits this life peacefully.
Her beautiful doe-eyes look exhausted. She doesn’t like leaving messes in the house. She is unable to walk to the park. She’s barely able to walk around the block without assistance. Her tail doesn’t wag.
We owe her peace.
Just before that, I’m going to hug her so, so tightly, and I’ll whisper in her seemingly ageless jet black velvety ear, “thank for all you have given me, which in a way, is everything.”
Then I’m going to feed her the biggest package of “chicken dogs” I can find (Molly’s most favorite thing ever. . .which could explain the rooster incident). And maybe some ribs. . .and a filet wrapped in bacon. . .
The time is drawing near. Godspeed, Molly Dawgs. We will always love our Binky Boo. Thank you for everything!