She wasn’t MY dog, but she was “my best pal” dog.
When I first moved into my little apartment over four years ago, I was introduced to the two dogs who ruled the home complex, Sam and Molly. Sam was a bit of a mutt, scraggly, long-tailed and a tad standoffish. Molly, on the other hand, was a black-and-white pit bull who took quite a bit of time to get to know this newcomer.
My new home was located at the far end of the covered walkway from the main house. Over the next several months after I arrived and was settling in, it began. Molly taught me well, since I was not properly doggy-trained at this point and was really new at figuring out this whole new dog language. I don’t remember how it all started, but Molly would slowly doggy-stroll down that covered walkway and begin to bark at my front door. That was my cue to become the appropriate Molly welcomer.
Slowly, I’d open my door to find Molly, tail wagging and eagerly waiting. I eventually learned that she’d come for a treat; I’m a bit of a slow learner. It had been a very long time since I’d had pets to find goodies for, so instead of trying to find an acceptable table scrap for her, I finally broke down and bought bag of bacon-flavored, bacon-looking dog treats. Apparently, Dolly found them acceptable, because she found her way to my front door most mornings for a treat.
I’d break the strips into fourths and feed them to her gently, one-at-a time. Molly’s manners were impeccable; she gently picked up the treats with her tongue, never once grabbing for one. I’m kinda’ sorta’ sure she even chewed with her mouth shut.
After treats, I initiated what would become a standard petting routine. I started with her ears, and after an appropriate ear-hug, I’d move down her nose and rub her forehead from the tip of her nose to the top of her head. After that came a solid back rub from her dog collar to the beginning of her tail. I think she actually signed a time or two.
During warmer months, after I’d fed Molly her treat and she’d had her appropriate Molly-hug-massage, I’d sit on the doormat and we’d talk. I’d tell her about what my plans were for the day and ask her about hers. Often, she’d flop down at my side and we simply enjoyed the beginning of a beautiful day.
When it was hotter and more humid, I’d open the door to my apartment and Molly was happy to come in, slowly taking her time and eventually lying on the cooler wood floor and taking a short nap. When she was ready to head for home, she’d awake and head for the door.
Late last year, the sun hit Molly’s face just right and her eyes simply shined back at me; a conversation with her owner revealed that Molly’s cataracts were getting worse. As I watched her one morning as she headed for her home, I saw Molly – literally – head right into the wall in front of her. From that time, I walked her to her door, hand on her collar, so she wouldn’t bash into anything unexpectedly; that would have been scary for both of us.
Slowly, Molly’s three-year-ago fight against cancer returned … and so it came. Molly’s owner told me that her/my Molly wasn’t doing well, and that the vet was coming to the house to put her down. I was invited to come over to give her a last hug.
Inside, in front of a warm, toasty heater, Molly was lying down on fat, comfy puppy pillows. Her head was cradled with an extra cushion to ease her breathing. I was given time to thank her for all the friendship and memories we had, and how grateful I was that she had chosen me to be her friend.
And yes, I cried ... as I am now. Miss you, Molly. I hope Puppy Heaven is fabulous for you!