Thursday, May 9, 2013

What I Learned From Molly

In the early morning hours of Thursday, May the 9th, we lost our sweet Golden Retriever, Molly. Three weeks ago she had been diagnosed with cancer and given two weeks to live. She lived three weeks and two days before passing away at the age of 11 years, 7 months. Her last three weeks were largely spent doing all of her favorite things. Pam created a “bucket list” and took pictures of all of her adventures. Most of the time these past weeks she has been pain free, happy, and close to her old self, but the last 24 hours were quite terrible. Even so, when the end came Pam and I were both holding her and reminding her of how much she was loved and just what an indescribable blessing she had been to our lives. When we think of her, we will forget this last day and be grateful for all the many wonderful days of joy that she brought to all of us.

Like anyone lucky enough to own a dog, I have learned many things from mine over the years. But, Molly took me to school all of her life. From Molly I learned that I should accept anyone, regardless of who they are, what they look like, or how old they are. Molly believed that everyone she ever met was a potential scratcher and that if she loved them enough and they ever got invited over to dinner, they would probably love her back by slipping her some food. From Molly I learned to take my medicine, every day, without whining. From Molly I learned that a house full of teenagers was possibly the best thing ever, and I was crazy for not having a house full every night.

 From Molly I learned to never bother my neighbors, and stay in my own yard unless invited over. From Molly I learned that I should always be extra nice to young children, even if they were annoying, and loud, and pulled on your ears, because they were just kids and didn’t mean any harm. From Molly I learned that you always feel better about yourself after a bath. From Molly I learned that if you haven’t seen someone you love for a while, you should show them how much you missed them by bringing them a gift and making a big fuss. From Molly I learned to turn the other cheek, to forgive everyone for every stupid thing they ever did, because surely they didn’t mean it. 

From Molly I learned that the only two things on the face of the earth that weren’t any good to eat were uncooked celery, and uncooked carrots, everything else was nothing short of awesome. From Molly I learned that if someone leaves you alone, if you love them enough, they will always come back. From Molly I learned that the world is chocked full of millions upon millions of potential friends, those who you know, and those you haven’t met yet. From Molly I learned the value of a good nap, and that the best way to ride in a car is with your smiling face hanging out of the window.

Someone asked me once whether or not I thought that dogs go to heaven when they die. I replied, “If not dogs…who?” If our lives are judged solely on the merits, the streets of gold will be teeming with dogs with only a few humans to clean up the mess. But just to prevent some insufferable spiritual snob out there from writing me a theological dissertation of the doctrine of salvation, let me close this tribute to Molly with the lyrics of a song my brother taught me over forty years ago when my dog, Roman, had died:

                        “When I was a lad and old Shep was a pup,

                         Over fields and meadows we’d stray.

                        Just a boy and his dog, we were both full of fun,

                       We grew up together that way.

                      I remember the time by the old swimming hole

                     When I would have drown beyond doubt.

                     But old Shep, there he was, to my rescue he came.

                    He jumped in and helped pull me out.

                   Now old Shep he has gone where the good doggies go,

                  No more with old Shep will I roam.

                 But if dogs have a heaven, then there’s one thing I know,

                 Old Shep has a beautiful home.”