It’s fitting that D-O-G is God spelled backward.
Last week my parents’ dog Molly, a sunny golden retriever of nearly 15 years, had to be put down. She wasn’t so happy in her final weeks, though, having contracted a form of cancer. Mainly she ate little and slept much, and what she did eat came from my mother’s stove: chicken livers, sausage, popcorn.
She slept on towels and was moved inside to get out of the rain. My mother carted her around in a wagon.
Molly came from good stock. Her (dog) mother was owned by one of my father’s co-workers, and another of my dad’s co-workers was her namesake. “Mary Molly of Shenandoah” also contains my first name, and that of both grandmothers, as well as our old street name. (We’re Southern; we like connections.)
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God only knows how this happened, but we managed to snap a photo of Molly and her puppy siblings in 1994, all lined up and still, when we went to pick one out. Molly bounded first out of the pack toward us, so we knew she was the one.
Molly grew up around the trails of Cooper Creek Park, but was shy about bounding into the water. But she did find a few tennis balls around the courts, and she acquired a massive collection through the years. She was also fond of eating scrap paper.
Like many Americans, Molly was mobile. She moved several times in her life. After Shenandoah Drive, she went to another home for about 18 months on Morningside Drive; then for the last year of her life, she lived in Midland.
I was fortunate to live in the same city as Molly for her last decade. When I lived away, my dad’s letters to me would always include news of Molly: “Molly is sleeping by the fire,” or “Your mother has taken Molly on a walk.” If you are a pet owner, you know how much this creature is half-person, and how easy it is to talk to him.
The way God cares for pets is, most obviously, through their owners. Good owners pay attention and take them on walks and to the vet for checkups, and keep them clean. Pets usually have extended family, too. In Molly’s case this included Dr. Hank Hall and the staff at Northside Animal Hospital who treated her like a queen since her adoption; and the Rev. Doug Hahn of our church, St. Thomas, who came to the “funeral” last week and prayed for her and read a poem about dogs.
God may send humans to care for the animals but I also think the reverse is true.
Molly’s exit from this earthly life was peaceful. Dr. Hall explained everything. He placed her on a towel and Molly received strokes and pats and kisses as the medicine did its thing. In her last days, she’d had problems with her tear ducts, and sure enough, a tear dripped from one of her eyes as she lay on the table. She has been cremated.
Kind people have reached out to my mom and dad — people who know how the house is emptier and the back yard seems to have a ghost in it. A boy next door drew them a card.
Meanwhile. My dad has taken to this joke: Want to know if a dog is man’s best friend? Put her in the trunk of your car with your wife. Drive them around for an hour. When you open up the trunk, which one is happier to see you?
Contact Allison Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.