I mourned losing Henry. Living happily with anything alive for ten years is a feat for me.
My beloved pet died April 26th. Less than a week later I was in Florida thoroughly enjoying the three dogs who lived there. I knew I needed the companionship of another pet. (Cats don’t quite do it in my estimation.) I knew as well, for the phone message was there when I returned, that Henry had suffered longer than any of us had realized. It was time for him to go.
So searching the internet (don’t we all?), I located a marvelous site that offered available golden retrievers of all ages throughout Ohio. It was a temptation but one that would necessitate an overnight (time to meet, time to reflect and decide, and then maybe time to buy) and I just didn’t see that in the cards, certainly not in the near future.
The beginning is hazy but I know I filled out the application for Canine Rescue in Westfield. I didn’t really want a rescue dog; I wanted another golden retriever. Marcia called within hours! She’d just learned of a thirteen-year-old golden near Rochester who’d be put down if a home couldn’t be found quickly. Healthy with some arthritis (but not bad) and good with cats.
At that age it would be a short-term love to be sure but why not? The three references I’d provided were called so that, ironically, one seemed to know the news before I: “I hear you’re getting a dog.” It was exciting.
Then again, what was I getting into? Thirteen is already old. How short-term is “short term”? I knew Henry would have gone with any family (if he’d had to) and fit in quickly (as did Buddy) but could I trust that luck again? What was I going to do with as old stranger?
Communicating by email, I was soon given her name: MOLLY. And assured with her would come food, bowls and a bed. Plans materialized as the days passed and I was able to clear my calendar.
Then a glitch! Molly can’t do stairs. Doesn’t every home still have a few to reach indoors? I called her owner who assured me three or four would be navigable. I also learned Molly weighted ninety pounds, is very obedient and wants to be told what to do. Leaving soon for the West, she was only relieved the dog had a new home. Oh, she added as we closed the conversation, are you used to a dog who sheds a lot? Bring her on.
I arrived home late on Wednesday evening to find a message: We’ll be at your home by ten tomorrow morning!
Enter Molly. She waddles. She wheezes. She’s loving. She’s gorgeous.
Pretty much dropped of in the driveway with a partially filled bag of food, a tiny set of bowls and a fur-covered “bed” already pulling apart at the seams. I dropped the leash that had just been handed to me to pick up her belongings and had to immediately gallop down the driveway in quick pursuit! There’s plenty of pep in this old gal!
Her papers said she didn’t take walk any more — guess nobody cared to try for we’ve explored and walked plenty. But how to know when she wants to go out? And what about those steps? There aren’t many but it was more than Molly could easily — or willingly — handle. Also, the dark tiles seemed to be off-putting. But, after one more long walk, I said “bedtime” and was flabbergasted to see her walk straight down the hall and climb up on the good doggy pad near my bed where she stayed until breakfast. Hey — this is easy . . . and I’m happy.
The first days have fled in pleasure with those stairs being the only trouble. My home though offers many options. Molly had willingly explored the front deck (up and down — once) before settling on another deck closer to where I sit. While still on lead, she discovered the lake, walked right in chest-high and, I suspect, might still be there had I not finally guided her to a flat area where she could navigate a return to soil.
That was the last time she’s been on a leash here. She can, using the deck, go in and out on her own and loves to explore while knowing her limits. One time she walked with me down the driveway but, when I made a second trip, she chose to sit and watch nearer the house. Made sense to me.
She willingly got into the car (the biggest surprise to date) though getting her out is next to impossible. She’s had her first vet checkup (apparently after a few years’ hiatus) with grooming on the agenda. That was also neglected and more than I can handle.
And whoever said she was good with cats either fibbed or didn’t know Gloria. No, that’s not fair to my cat. Molly — as old and arthritic as she’s supposed to be — gives healthy chases if she spots the black one. It remains a standoff at this point but, as with everything, progress continues.
Molly is a dear sweet dog filled with love.
Short-term? Let’s take each precious day as it comes.
I’m so very grateful.
Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.