Well, if Muffin was my childhood dog, I’d have to say Molly was my KIDS’ childhood dog. We got her soon after Rusty (as soon as we were ready to try another dog…which wasn’t very long!). My oldest son was six years old and my youngest son was just a year old. My youngest son does not remember life before Molly.
Molly was a great dog…the perfect dog for our family, really (especially after what we’d gone through with Rusty). I’ve never known a gentler dog. I think the best thing about her was how good she was with kids. Experts will tell you you really shouldn’t get a dog until your youngest child is at least five years old. Some even say your youngest should be ten. But who listens to experts? Not somebody who really, really wants a dog. And it worked out with Molly…the kids would climb all over her and use her as a pillow and she’d just lick them in response. I don’t think she ever even growled at anyone much less bit them. (She DID growl at motorcycles, though…and big trucks. In fact, if one was parked too close to the sidewalk or ON the sidewalk, I would have to actually pick her up because she wouldn’t walk past it.)
She was a puppy when we got her…an old puppy (ten months old), but a puppy nonetheless. She’d never lived with a family before. Her whole life up to that point had been spent in a cage, so I suspect that’s why housebreaking was such a challenge with her. After she peed somewhere in the house, she understood that she was never again supposed to go in that exact spot. So the next time she’d go in the house, she’d go about three inches away from the previous spot. She needed to be taught that every single spot in the house was off-limits for relieving herself. And about the time she got that, we moved to a new house in Coralville. So we had to start over.
She was not a dog who did a lot of tricks. She could shake hands and she’d fetch the ball once or twice, but that was it. Once or twice and she was done.
And she did not like to go outside in the rain. Or if the grass was too long.
My husband will tell you she was “a good dog, but dumber than a doornail.” Don’t listen to him. She may not have done what you told her to do, but I don’t think it was because she didn’t understand…I think she just didn’t want to. She was actually a very wise dog…all you had to do was look into her eyes to see that. Especially toward the end.
I still smile when I remember how she’d come running if anyone said “Oops” for any reason. She had very good ears…it didn’t matter how far away she was, she always heard “oops,” and she always came running as fast as she could! “Oops” to Molly meant somebody dropped some food on the floor. And if there wasn’t any food on the floor when she came (i.e. you happened to say “oops” for some other reason), she’d look at you like “Well??? Where is it?”
Molly was the first dog I had from puppyhood through old age. She started to slow down a few years ago. She developed a thyroid condition, then arthritis. She got really sick a year and a half ago…so sick that we thought that was the end. But she pulled through. We got another dog right after she got better (Mouse, who I will blog about in the next post…and that will be the end of this series). Mouse was about four times her size, but Molly was still the alpha dog. She and Mouse got along really well. In fact, she really perked up when Mouse came to live with us. Our vet said that’s not uncommon…sometimes bringing a young dog into the house when you have an old dog is the best thing you can do for that older dog’s health. I think he’s right. I don’t believe Molly would’ve lasted as long as she did if we didn’t have Mouse. We got another eight months with her after she was so sick…and then last summer she got really sick again…and that was the end. She was fourteen.
Unfortunately, it happened when we were all out of town, so I never really got closure. And the reason we were out of town was my oldest was moving halfway across the country. So I lost my dog and in a sense I “lost” my son at the same time. But it was never going to be easy to let Molly go…and I think she knew that. Maybe that’s why the end came when it did? If she had any control over it, I’m certain she let go when she did because she knew I would have a very hard time saying good bye. So she spared me that. She didn’t actually die on her own…the vet told us she wouldn’t make it until we got back, and she was in pretty bad shape, so we had her put to sleep. I still wish I’d been here…seems like the least I should have done for such a good dog. We’re going to bury her ashes this spring and plant something pretty over the grave…maybe that will give me the closure I need?