Everywhere I go people ask me how Molly is doing. It’s very gratifying to hear how concerned my friends are about her, and it also demonstrates the incredible emotional power that animals have in our lives. So many people have told me their own stories about a beloved pet that had to be put down and how horrible a thing it was to do. And yet, somehow in the telling, they are transported back into great memories of their time together, and soon the stories begin, stories of humor and tenderness, that make the pain of loss somehow worth it in the end.
Molly has good days and bad. This past Thursday was a bad day. She had no appetite, was listless, and showed no interest in even being patted. Every now and then she would let out a soft groan where she lay on the floor, as if in pain. I began to think that the decision that I haven’t wanted to even think about was at hand. But then Friday morning she began to rally. Her appetite returned along with some of the old perkiness and enthusiasm for snuggling. Before the end of the day and ever since, she has been something approaching her old self.
I gave Molly her weekly bath Saturday, and was reminded that she indeed is sick. As I ran my hands across her back and sides I could feel her ribs and the hard edge of her backbone, something I have never been able to do before. I had to take extra gentle care, since at times she stiffened at my touch. This was particularly sad since she has always loved bath time. Now, it seems a labor.
But, she still eats, goes to the bathroom and seems happy and engaged, so I suppose that the round- about answer to the question, “How is Molly”, is Molly is doing alright. For me, the hard part is the waiting. I so wish that I could look into her eyes and ask her how she’s feeling and once, just one time, she could answer me in English, “I feel like crap, Dad. Its time.” or “I feel perfectly fine! Don’t worry about me. You’re doing a great job.” But she doesn’t speak my language. She speaks a dog language full of feeling and intuition, packed with raised eyebrows, cold nose nudges and heavy sighs. I must pay close attention, or I’ll miss something.