Sunday, April 08, 2007


We found Molly at the pound where she had been abandoned. She was timid and not well-bred. We never found out who her parents were or what breeds any of her other ancestors were either. We could only guess. Even though she had apparently been born under humble circumstances, she had dignity. She was kind. When she looked at you with those soft eyes, you knew she could see right into you and you could keep no secrets from her about what kind of person you really were. Our children took to her right away. She was with us for eighteen years and now she’s gone. All we have left are pictures and ashes. As soon as the snow melts, we’ll bury them in my wife’s flower garden, where she liked to lay in the sun.

Molly’s time overlapped my children’s lives from elementary school to adulthood. She frolicked with them in the yard when they were young children. When they became teenagers, She let their boyfriends and girlfriends pat her as they were introduced. They are grown and gone now, but when they learned Molly was fading, they made a trip back to say good-bye before we had to put her down. As I watched each one lean down and whisper to her, I wondered what they were thinking about. Was it how she never barked when each was sneaking into the house after their curfew? She let us know whenever a stranger came near the house, but even in the dark of night, she always knew when it was family coming home. Was it in the way they walked? Was it their scent? However it was, Molly always knew who belonged there and who didn’t, and she never told any tales. She would take their secrets to the grave.

She’d been deaf for more than two years and there were cataracts on her eyes. Still, she maintained her dignity and she could sense the mood of whoever was present around her, something she had always done. She got along with everybody, but she didn’t force her attentions on people. Whenever I hugged my wife or one of my children, Molly would come over and nuzzle between us. She never approached outsiders, but waited nearby and allowed them to approach her, preferring women to men.

As I younger child, I liked dogs quite well and I had a German Shepherd who was a constant companion until she had to be put down too. After getting a paper route, however, I realized that some could be a real pain in the butt and, though I can’t lean over far enough to see for sure, I think I still have scars to prove it.
I was beginning to lose faith in the species until we found Molly at the pound.

As a puppy, she paper-trained fast and there was never much need to discipline her. She only needed to be told the rules once, it seemed, and she’d remember. She wasn’t the type to perform tricks and she didn’t need to be told what to do. I never said, “Lay down,” or “Sit.” Molly did what she wanted and it always seemed appropriate. She was so good at being a dog that she made me want to be a better human.

For most of her life here on Christian Hill, the neighborhood’s dogs went where they wished and they were well-behaved. They didn’t bark too much or chase cars or get into the trash. They may have fertilized the lawn in spots, but that’s it. The neighbors knew them all by name and where they lived. But they’re all gone now; Molly was the last one.

During her life, Molly was a good example for her human companions. Nobody had to tell her how to be a dog and she didn’t sweat the small stuff, always seeming to understand what was going on around her. She did start to lose it at the end though, but don’t we all? She was incontinent, occasionally. She forgot things, sometimes. She’d go for a stroll and forget how to get back. A couple of times, she wandered down to the Village and appeared lost. Donny Chandler called from his garage and we’d go pick her up. Two other times she didn’t come home and my wife called Harvest Hills to discover that she’d been picked up on the road heading out of town and acting confused. When she made her final trip to the Fryeburg Veterinary Hospital, she seemed to know it. She lay peacefully on her favorite blanket and hardly flinched as the hypodermic needle went into her leg. We weren’t surprised to observe that she died as gracefully as she had lived.

This column was first published in March, 2005

1 comment:

Sasi Kumar said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

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