Category Archives: dogs

The Papillon Gambit

Izzy and Minnie on the Hunt

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

I love my two Papillons, Minnie and Izzy. Minnie is coming up on five years old while Izzy is coming up on two. They are from different breeders and have completely different personalities but they are a perfect pair and a great team.

They both are sweet and incredibly intelligent; in fact they are scary smart and they continue to surprise us with their scheming and attitude.

I try to walk them around the lake near our home two to three times a day. There are a lot of ducks as well as geese, not to mention other birds, squirrels, and rabbits for them to track and chase. I know that is nothing unusual for anyone with a dog, most dogs love to chase and to hunt. However, lately these two have pulled something new that none of our other dogs have ever done and which we have not taught them to do, though I wish I had. I hate to admit it but I do encourage their bad habits.

Recent they have adopted a classic military strategy to outflank and surround the ducks and geese. One will go down the bank of the lake and chase them toward the other who goes higher and then comes down to cut off their retreat. It is amazing to watch. They both have different methods of the hunt. Most of the time Izzy plunges headlong to the attack, but Minnie, she quietly sneaks up, almost crouching and tiptoeing as she stalks her prey. 

When they perform what I now call the Papillon Gambit, it is Izzy who goes down the bank to flush out the prey, while Minnie sneaks around the flank, but last night they switched roles. It was amazing to watch. Yesterday, during their morning walk Izzy took the low road on some Muscovy ducks while Minnie went high and dove down. This time the ducks didn’t realize it until the last second and for the first time I actually saw them take to flight in order to avoid being trapped. But this time they barely escaped. In a near panic the ducks turned and flew away from Minnie and a large drake barely avoided being snatched out of the air by Izzy. Had she got him it would have been really interesting. 


Minnie and Izzy 

Now mind you, Minnie and Izzy are not very big, even though they are large for Papillons, Minnie is 12 pounds while Izzy weighs in at 13 pounds. Papillons do vary in size, some as small as 3 pounds and some up to twenty, but most fall into the 6 to 8 pound range. Minnie is actually a bit taller and longer than Izzy, but Izzy is built like a tank. She doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her, but as our vet said when he first saw her as a puppy, she is sturdy. The ducks in question are bigger than either of them, the males (drakes) average 10 to 18 pounds in weight while the females are a bit smaller. It is really funny to see such little dogs stalking such big prey. The one Izzy almost caught was large, probably in the 15-16 pound range. 

For those that don’t know much about the breed, they are Spaniels. Like other bigger breeds of Spaniels they are not afraid of water, or mud and occasionally will dive into the water to go after ducks or geese. They are also considered to be among the top dog breeds in terms of intelligence. They are incredibly sweet, loyal, and unfortunately sometimes they are a bit headstrong, with an attitude that you wouldn’t believe. That being said I have never seen two dogs work in tandem as these two girls do. They execute perfect flanking movements in order to trap their prey, you’d think that they were foxes or wolves, but they are Pappies.


Back in the 17th and 18th Centuries Papillons were a favorite among French royalty, in addition to being great lap dogs they doubled as great ratters, keeping the royal palaces free of vermin. It is written that Queen Marie Antoinette carried her pet papillon with her to the guillotine;  nothing is written as to whether the dog shared her fate, but I can imagine that the Papillon took a bite out of the executioner’s leg. Likewise, Madame Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, cherished a papillon called Inez. Despite being small, they are tough little dogs, and while incredibly sweet and friendly they are fearless. I find that quality quite endearing. 

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The papillon also appeared regularly in paintings featuring the 17th and 18th century royal children and ladies at court done by such old masters as Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck.Since we haven’t had problems with rats, Izzy tries to catch any flies or other insects that might come into view. It is fun to watch her trap and kill flies. 

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I have to say, that these two girls bring me a lot of joy and are exceptional therapy dogs for my continued struggle with the ongoing effects of PTSD. God I do enjoy them and how can I not?

Have a great weekend,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Ghost Dog Central

mollgrin

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Time for something a little less serious. People that have read my writings on this site over the past year know that I love dogs, and that my wife and I have had some very interesting furry babies throughout our thirty-two yearlong marriage.

We have two Papillions now, Minnie Scule and Izzy Bella. We had two dachshunds who both lived over 15 years, one of which, our Wire Hair Dachshund, Frieda, paid my wife and I visits after she had to be put down. Frieda, God love her was a total pain in the ass and fought us for sixteen years because she was the alpha dog and we were just the incompetent help. We figured that after that that she had a job helping to run Purgatory.

A few months after we lost Frieda, and we still had our fat smooth hair dachshund Greta, and Judy was at the vet and a lady had a small puppy in her arms that looked to Judy to be a red long hair dachshund. The puppy was a rescue that had been found covered in tar alongside North Carolina Highway 24 near Cape Carteret. Judy told the lady that we had lots of experience with dachshunds and that they could be quirky and gave the lady our number. A few days later the lady called and said she could not keep the puppy as her older dog could not handle her.

We went out and we met the lady and met Molly. Molly was not a full blooded dachshund, but a beautiful mix. When her fur grew out we figured that she was a Papillion-Dachshund mix, and according to many people appeared to be a designer dog. She was beautiful, and had a wonderful personality. It was love at first sight for me, she became “daddy’s baby.”

She, like Judy had to deal with long separations from me as a military pup, and when Greta passed away in 2003 she became an only dog. After I came home from Iraq terribly goofed up, often depressed, hyper-vigilant and sometimes nearly suicidal from Iraq, Molly helped keep me alive. When I was stationed as a geographic bachelor in Camp LeJeune, Judy had a partial Achilles tendon resection, and for about a month had to come down to my place in North Carolina because our home has far too many stairs and she could not navigate them. Of course Molly came with her, and Molly decided that she did not want to go home. Home could not compete with being able to go to the beach, or chase deer and other wildlife which existed right outside my door.

This did not impress Judy and so because we loved Molly’s Papillion temperament we got Minnie. But while I was in North Carolina Molly had to have surgery to remove a painful, but benign tumor from her right shoulder. The surgery was done at the same vet where Judy had Frieda put down when Frieda’s renal failure became acute. I got home with Molly who made a fast recovery and that night I sensed something odd. I sensed Frieda, and I began to see small dog sized shadow figures. Frieda had come back. When Molly and I returned to Virginia, Frieda came with us. I have occasionally felt her presence and seen the same shadow figure. When we came back from North Carolina Molly began to show the effects of Kidney disease as well. In February, knowing that Molly’s condition was getting worse we got our other Papillion, Izzy, a little dog who is very much like Molly, laid back, playful and exceptionally sweet. Though she was blind and sick, Molly was good to Izzy, and Izzy was always sweet to Molly.

We lost Molly on May 11th and it was very difficult, but Minnie and Izzy have been great. Since we lost Molly I have felt Molly’s presence in the house and in the car where we spent so much time together. However, something happened Monday which was fascinating. Molly returned in an unusual way.

Judy goes to help a friend’s little boy get to the bus stop a couple of days a week. To do so she gets up earlier than me and then I get up. I have terrible insomnia and all sorts of weird crazy dreams, and night terrors as a result of my time in Iraq and my battle with PTSD, and mornings are difficult. I was never a morning person, but now I’m really not one. When I was in Carolina, Molly would get up on the bed and if I hit the snooze alarm too many times would either nudge me, kiss me, or bark at me to get me up. Monday I had hit the snooze alarm and as I rolled back over I felt a dog walking on the bed. I thought that either Minnie or Izzy was up so I looked up and there was no dog. So I rolled back over. The alarm went off again and I hit the snooze. A couple of minutes later I felt dog steps on the bed, and then had a nudge in my back. I got up, and since no dogs were there I realized that Molly was back. I thanked her, and got up.

I miss Molly, but it seems that she is going to remain a part of my life, anytime that I hit the snooze too often. 

Call me crazy, but I can live with ghost dogs.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Friends, Puppies & Laughter: the Cure for the Celtic Funk 

  

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Last week really sucked and I do want to thank those of you who have been so kind to offer words of encouragement on the site or on other social media platforms. Last night was a contuation of the funk. I did not sleep well, had very strange dreams and nightmares and when I got up this morning I was in a deeper funk than I was anytime during the past week. So I just want to say thank you for the love, concern, support and prayers. 

For those that don’t know my family background, we are mostly Scotish, Irish and English with a little bit of French Hugenot and a smidgen of Scandnavian mixed in. Thus I am predominately of Celtic stock which can take a melancholy mood and make it worse, the only fixes for such a foul temper is some irreverent humor and beer. The humor I have enjoyed and I will enjoy the beer in not too long. 

Without reciting the litany of all the events that happened last week, including some that we will still have to face that could make last week look good, I have to say that I am in a far better state of mind that I was just a few hours ago. There are three things for this. First are the friends, many who have known me for years who have offered uncouragement and did not preach at me. Likewise there are my friends that I am getting to know who follow and comment on what I write here, as well as those on Twitter. It would take so much time to mention everyone who has been so kind and I fear that I would leave someone out. But you all know who you are and I have responded individually to all of you. God bless you and thank you. 

  

That being said last week I felt like my life was a bad country and western song and kind of reminded me of the opening scene of the movie “Stripes” starring Bill Murray. After losing his job, his car, his girlfriend and having dropped his pizza on the ground he simply said “and then depression set in.” I have been so depressed this past week, and I am sure that when I see her next that my shrink will note in my chart that I am officially suffering from clinical depression. But my friends I digress…

Today started out as crappy as any of the past week. I got in to work early, checked my e-mail and then went down to my empty chapel having locked my keys in my office. I had to get security to get the master key to let me in so I could open up the chapel for the throngs of people who do not show up. Then I had to get an external hard drive to take to the Apple Store as my old MacBook Pro went crazy and crapped out on me yesterday. I can either spend big bucks to have it repaired or pay a couple of hundred buck more for the new and improved model. 

  

I got to the mall where the Apple Store is located and found out that it did not open until eleven a.m. I mean that they don’t even unlock the doors until eleven. So I am standing in Barnes and Noble, which by the way is open wondering just why the hell I can’t walk the mall even if no stores are open. So in frustration I go to the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble to get a cup of coffee. In front of me is a couple who looked far older than me though I am sure they were probably about my age. The difference is that they were dressed like grown ups, something that to Judy’s consternation I am incapable of doing. This couple were either on their way to or on their way from church and the wife was agonizing over what type of tea to purchase, maybe it was for a gift or for their own consumption by the woman was deeply serious about what would be a key decision in life. 

So the girl behind the counter, the barista, I think that is what we call them now asks me what I would like. 

I responded with my standard line, “plain black coffee.” When she asked if I wanted her to leave room for creame or sugar I responded “no I drink it dark and bitter like my life.” That was more true than usual this morning, usually I mean it as a joke, but today I was quite serious. When I said it the church lady looked up from her quest for the perfect tea and almost in shock said “you poor man.” Somehow that cheered me up a bit. I attempted to assuage her obviously genuine concern by giving her a big smile and a wink. gave her a big smile and wink. 

I sat down and had my dark and bitter coffee and as I did so my Facebook and Twtter friends were offering words of encouragement. Finally the mall open its doors and I was able to go to the Apple Store and drop off the external hard drive to get all my data from the old computer. 

When I got home I was treated by Minnie and Izzy. There is nothing like the greeting of sweet puppies to melt one’s heart and to cheer one up. That was nice. Of course Judy and I were able to talk about the week, reflect on Molly and our concerns about what she might face. We had some good laughs and then I saw a quote that made me laugh harder than I have all week. It is from Stephen King.

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why God? Why me?’ And the thundering voice of God answered ‘There’s just something about you that pisses me off.’

I about hurt myself laughing and now I feel so much better. I’m sure I will quote it the next time Job is in the lectionary readings for a Sunday. Perhaps a tiny bit of blasphemy is the best medicine after all. 

  

Have a great Sunday, and thank you for everything.

Peace

Padre Steve+ 


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The Legacy of Molly

mollybag

Molly is now with us in spirit. As I wrote yesterday I feel her presence whenever I get in the car, where she and I spent countless hours. But her influence remains because if it was not for the happy, sweet and cheerful Papillon side of her we probably would never had considered getting a Papillon. Molly was a rescue, what some might say an “accident” in our lives. However, if she was an accident, she was the most wonderful accident that one could encounter. As we found out with Molly, these little babies are tough and have an attitude to match. They are sweet, but when they want they can be defiant as hell, something that I find most endearing.

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When Molly abandoned Judy to keep me alive we ended up getting Minnie, or her as she is known by her full name “Minnie Scule.” Minnie has been wonderful. She is sweet, smart and compared to Molly a bit on the serious side. In February, with Molly showing the effects of age and Minnie needing a play-mate we got Izzy, or “Izzy Bella.” Of course like all of our dogs we don’t always go by those names. Minnie is sometimes just known as “the Scule” while Izzy has a number of nicknames including “Bella, Belle, Izzy and Bellaisama”  which in a way almost sound like Mafia nicknames. Molly had her own share of nicknames being Molly Fur, Fur Puppy, the Moll, or just plain Fur. In the past few months these two little dogs have become inseparable buddies and partners in crime, this has led to us simply calling out “Pappies!” when we want their attention.  The two little brats respond to that very well.

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They play incessantly with each other and us. Those who have pappies know that when they start playing that they can get are known as the “zoomies” where they run like little bats out of hell and make you chase them. When we first got Molly we lived in places without fences, which meant when she got the zoomies she made us chase her around the neighborhood and through the woods behind the house until she was tired and we were angry. Thankfully we have a fenced back yard and when Minnie and Izzy get the zoomies it is a bit safer for all concerned.

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We miss our Molly but we are blessed. Again thank you all for your wonderful expressions of sympathy and condolence this week. Those words have meant so much to both of us.

Tomorrow I am going to publish, or possibly begin a short series on Armed Forces Day which occurs this weekend.

Have a great night,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Presence of Molly

 

wherewegoingdad

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”  Milan Kundera

Molly Fur is still with me. Though we had to have her put down Monday I have felt her presence, especially as I drive too and from work. You see Molly was my constant companion and that wonderful furry baby spent innumerable hours traveling with me in North Carolina and on what seemed were our endless treks between Emerald Isle and Virginia Beach.

Molly loved riding with me and it did not matter how long or short the the trip was she had developed her own rituals for the rides. She would take a drink from her water dish before leaving the house, ensure that she had peed before hopping into the car and then take her place either in the front seat next to me of the back seat, centered so she could look over my shoulder. She was a comforting presence on those long trips and she savored every moment of them, especially when we would stop at a drive through for lunch and she would get her “Molly Burger.” When we got to our destination she was always happy, if coming home to Virginia she would joyfully run to Judy at the front door, and if heading back to Emerald Isle demand that I walk her to the beach, all the while hunting for deer.

I have never seen a dog savor life as much as Molly and thus I am not surprised that I still feel her presence in the car. Yesterday was funny because I thought I saw her shadow in the seat next to me and I reached over to pet her. She wasn’t there, but I could feel her spirit. That may sound weird to some of you, even religious people who believe in an afterlife, but somehow exclude everything but we contemptible human beings from it. I think that one of my favorite passages in the Bible is the one in Romans chapter eight which talks about the creation awaits its redemption, even groans for its redemption, and having heard Molly groan I know that this means dogs and other furry friends too. Personally I don’t give a flying fuck if any supposedly Christian leader condemns me as a heretic, for believing this.  But as Mark Twain said: “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man’s.”  Since I am already stoking the fires of Hell that according to some await me let me echo the words of Will Rogers who said “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went,”   even as I totally agree with the late curmudgeon Andy Rooney  who said “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”   I can feel the flames heating up, can’t you?

So, since I have already been condemned as a heretic to Hell even by some Christian “friends”  who have had the nerve to do so on social media, this matters not.  For I know that Molly is with me any time I get in my car. She is now like a guardian angel and I can feel her presence and frankly I would rather have her spiritual presence and the presence of my Papillon Pack of Minnie Scule and Izzy Bella around me than most people. A friend of mine noted that I have to start training up Izzy in “the way of the dog” not to replace Molly, but to be my next guardian angel. Thankfully, the little girl is already working on that.

So until tomorrow, thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and love.

I wish you all the greatest love and joy possible. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Memories of Molly & Thanks to Friends

 

molly and orioles hat

Dean Koontz wrote:

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”  

As most of you know from what I posted yesterday we had to have Molly Fur, the wonderful dog who saved my life after Iraq put down at the age of fourteen. I knew her loss would hit me hard, however I have always tried to conduct myself in such situations as would Mr. Spock on Star Trek, or Commander Data in Star Trek the Next Generation before he got the emotion chip implanted. That being said I knew that I would cry, however, little did I expect that every time I turned around that I be crying.

Honestly I feel a lot like Robert De Niro playing the mobster Paul Viti in the movie Analyze This, where he tells his shrink played by Billy Crystal: “The other day, I was watching a commercial with a kid playing with a couple of puppies, I cried for forty five minutes! You slap a pair of tits on me, I’m a woman!” But I digress…

Molly meant more to me than almost anything in life. I am convinced that had she not come to live with me when I was stationed in Camp Lejeune away from Judy, that I would have succumbed to despair and found a way to die without making it look like suicide. I probably would have driven off the bridge to Emerald Isle or driven into the trees lining one of the state highways on the way to or from work.

However, having Molly there kept me from this because I wondered what the effect would have been on Molly. Stanley Coren wrote:“The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them.”  I couldn’t do that to her, she loved me too much and would not have understood.

Having Molly with me in North Carolina gave me someone to come home to, and her cheerfulness and devotion kept me going through some of the darkest times of my life. Just having her waiting for me when I came home made all the difference and today for the first time I came home from work and Molly was not there to great me. It really hit me again, that she was gone .

mollybag

Molly was so irresistibly funny, sweet and beautiful and she lived her whole life that way, caring for Judy as much as she cared for me. Molly would sit with me on a huge bean bag chair and watch baseball, sometimes she would be looking at the television so intently I thought she had to be watching the games at least as much as she was comforting me, especially during the 2012 season when the San Francisco Giants won their second World Series title. She hardly left my side during those games.

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Thankfully, Molly never developed the taste for beer that our now Senior Dog on Deck, Minnie has, otherwise I would have probably had to pour her out of the beanbag to chase the deer around the house.

Over the past couple of days Judy and I have been showed such care and love by family and friends, in person as well as on Facebook. Likewise I have received so many kind words and thoughts from people who follow me here or on Twitter.

I know that sometimes social media can be poisonous and filled with vitriol. However, that being said such is not always the case. There are a lot of wonderful people out there on Twitter, Facebook and in the blogosphere.  The kindness shown by people people that I have never met in person who follow me on this site and Twitter has been amazing.

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I think Molly will always be with Me

Your kindness  reduces me to tears, just like Paul Viti, and just like is happening to me right now as I wipe the tears from my eyes. But those tears are not tears of sadness. They are tears of appreciation and thanksgiving, to Molly who saved my life, and for all who have taken just a few moments of time to offer a word of kindness. Those words have enabled me to remember all those times that Molly made my life better, helped keep me alive, and in the process probably made me a better person in spite of myself.

Thank you all so much.

Blessings, Love and Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Saddest Day: Rest In Peace Molly Fur

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

It has been a tough day at Padre Steve’s home as we had to put our oldest dog, Molly Fur down. It has been a day where we have shed a lot of tears.

Dean Koontz Wrote:

“Dogs, lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.”

Molly was fourteen years old, a half Dachshund and half Papillon mix who was a rescue. Molly was the most amazing dog that we have ever had the honor of loving. Some people talk of being dog-owners, but we are dog-parents as we have never had any children of our own. Our dogs have been our children and we have been blessed to have all of them. Frieda, who was literally the “Dog from Hell” held us hostage for sixteen years was smart, beautiful, devious, and conniving. She fought us to be the Alpha of the family to the end of her life.  To her we were just the incompetent help.

Greta, our second baby, was sweet and lovable. But Greta was basically a “cookie-cutter” Wiener Dog. She was serious, and dour, and one hell of a tough dog. She was strongly territorial and woe betide any big dog who infringed on that territory. She took a mouthful of fur out of a Chow once, but I digress, this is about Molly…

Molly the Wonder Fur… I have a feeling that this article will eventually become the outline of a book, because Molly was amazing. I posted a short note about her loss with a picture of her running down the beach in North Carolina on my Facebook page after we put her down. Both Judy and I have been crying a lot today, even though it was time and Molly was suffering. Since posting that note I have been comforted by the comments of many friends, especially those who knew and loved her, of course reading those made me cry more, but I think that is okay. Anyway, let me tell the story of Molly Fur here. Gilda Radner said: “I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” 

We had lost our first dog, a Wire Hair Dachshund named Frieda while I was deployed to Okinawa, Mainland Japan and Korea in April 2001. In October 2001 my wife Judy was at the veterinarian with our other Dachshund, a smooth-hair red named Greta, or Greta-Poo for a routine visit when she met a lady holding what Judy presumed to be a long-hair Dachshund puppy.  The lady explained that she had found the puppy along North Carolina Highway 24 in Carteret County covered in tar. The lady had cleaned her up and had brought her to the vet to get checked out and to get her immunizations. 

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Since we had a great deal of experience with Dachshunds Judy told the lady that they could be quirky and that if she needed any help to let her know. Three days later we received a call from the lady explaining that she could not hand the puppy as it was too much for her older dog and asked if we wanted her. Of course I said yes. We got to the lady’s home and were confronted with a dog that certainly was not a full-blooded Wiener Dog. The puppy had legs and her ears were mounted wrong, but she had a long Dachshund body and brilliant red fur. She looked like a little red fox. I fell in love at first sight and we took her home, thus began the saga of Molly the Fur.

Now Greta our Dachshund was not thrilled to have a puppy. Greta was mommy’s baby and was not going to let anyone come in the way. She was not happy and ensured that Molly knew that, however, Molly was undeterred and one day when Greta tried to bully Molly, the Moll kicked her ass. After that the too maintained a state of detente, not really liking each other but working together to raid the cupboards, steal food and to raid the kitchen garbage can. When Greta had to put down in June of 2003, Molly became an only dog-child.

Molly was always smart, in obedience school she was not the most obedient but she charmed people and she was the class clown. As she got older she became scary smart, but unlike Frieda who used her brains for nefarious purposes, Molly was simply inventive, resourceful and undeterred in finding solutions to any obstacle that she faced. Likewise, Molly’s cheerfulness and sweet demeanor was something that endeared her to everyone who ever got to know her.

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Looking for Birds and Squirrels 

Molly was also became daddy’s girl and despite the fact that I was often deployed or frequently on the road that never changed. Molly was daddy’s girl from day one until the end.

We almost lost Molly when she was seven, when she developed a strange spinal infection. It was a difficult battle and she was in a lot of pain but she overcame it and had completely recovered in about a month’s time.

However, that infection and Molly’s recovery showed us that she was even smarter than we had imagined. As I mentioned the infection was painful for her.  She was basically put in enforced bed rest in a large laundry basket, which we were the enforcers. Molly handled that well and let us know that if she was hurting that she did not want to be picked up.

One funny thing that she did was to start screaming like a two year old child whenever Judy approached her basket. It was amazing. If she didn’t want to be picked up she didn’t bark, she screamed a blood curdling scream. When she recovered she went back to normal, but continued to amaze us with the new and inventive ways that she dealt with obstacles.

Molly loved Christmas. Her first Christmas we wrapped her up a toy and gave it to her. She immediately unwrapped it and began to play. thereafter every Christmas we did this and every Christmas she opened her presents with the joy of a child.

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She also came to love the snow, she was never much a fan of rain, but she loved the snow. It was funny during  our “Februwinter.” Molly was not in the greatest shape but handled the amazingly severe winter weather with aplomb, she with Minnie and Izzy who we had just got, had fun in the snow.

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Molly in her first snow, December 1983

Molly always had a sense for when we were hurting or sick. If we were not doing well she became “Nurse Molly.” Judy gave her that name because of her devotion to trying to make us feel better whenever we were sick or down. Since I am basically a Chaplain version of Doctor House, Nurse Molly was a tremendous comfort.

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When I returned from Iraq I was a mess. PTSD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, night terrors and chronic sleep problems plagued me, and often still do. However Molly looked after me and I give her credit for helping save my life during those incredibly dark times when I often saw no hope and wanted to die. Over the years it was Molly’s amazing resiliency and devotion that helped keep me alive.

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When I was assigned to Camp LeJeune a second time in 2010 Molly decided, after a visit where Judy was recovering from Achilles Tendon surgery that she wanted to stay with daddy. How could she not?

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Molly Tracking a Deer in my back yard in Emerald Isle

I lived in an apartment under a beach house in Emerald Isle. Outside my door there were deer, squirrels, birds, and did I say deer? I lived about three-tenths of a mile from the beach and every day she and I would take a walk, she would chase deer and then were would hit the beach. In Virginia we have a small back yard and though there are squirrels and birds it could not compete with Emerald Isle.

One of the things that happened in Emerald Isle was on July 4th of 2011. Judy and Molly had come down for a short visit and Judy wanted to see the fireworks which were being launched from the Emerald Island Pier. The three of us went down to the beach and it was packed with people. I don’t do crowds well, I still get panicky in crowds. I also don’t do explosions well. It wasn’t the main show that got me it was the fact that everyone and their brother’s cousin’ father-in-laws next door neighbor’s roommate were there and were shooting off industrial grade fireworks right on top of me. I was melting down and flashing back to Iraq, Molly sensed that I was not doing well and moved close to me. Then to defend me she looked up and started barking at the fireworks. She was unfazed by the explosions and was determined to protect me. I love her to this day for helping to save my life.

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Visit to the Pet Store: Can I Have one Daddy? 

When Molly came to North Carolina she really came into her own. She almost bagged a few deer, including one which was sleeping just off my porch.Thankfully I was able to stop Molly’s attack with a big tug on the retractable leash with Molly just inches from taking a bite out of the left flank of the unsuspecting deer. I would have hated to explain to the local Department of Fish and Game officials how a 15 pound dog had taken a bite out of a deer.

Molly went everywhere with me and loved the rides in the car. She also loved the visits to the pet store which we call the “cookie store” and the walks on the beach. Just before I returned to Virginia in 2013 Molly went blind, just before this she had caught a butterfly in mid-air. She held onto it for five minutes before releasing it unharmed, except for the PTSD that the poor insect must have had.

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As I have already mentioned Molly, loved to do things with me, and one thing she really enjoyed were the long rides between Virginia Beach and Emerald Isle. On those rides we would stop to get something to eat, usually going through various drive thru restaurants where I would get her what I called a “Molly Burger” a plain hamburger that she would scarf down. Of course she tended to get a Molly Burger any time we went out when I lived in North Carolina.

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So Much to Choose From…

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Turn left at the drive through

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Keep the Window Down…

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Daddy and his Girl, Molly always was interested in the computer

Molly was also responsible for us having Papillons. We came to love Molly’s cheery, happy and funny Papillon side. Now Molly did have a Dachshund side of her personality as well, but she operated as either one or the other, so we never knew if we were going to get the “happy Pappy” of the serious Dachshund. But Molly’s Papillon side caused me to get Judy a Papillon just about a month after Molly a abandoned Judy to move to North Carolina with me. This Papillon is Minnie, or her full name “Minnie Scule.” In February we got Minnie a pappy-puppy named Izzy, or “Izzy Bella.” They are a joy. They are not Molly and they, even though both are full blooded Papillons have wildly different personalities. They are now best buddies and partners in crime.

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Minnie and Izzy 

Molly also shares some of the responsibility of bringing Frieda back into our lives. The vet that I took Molly to in North Carolina was the same one that Frieda and Greta went to, as well as the first that Molly went to. In 2012 Molly had to have a painful but benign tumor removed from her shoulder. When she came back from the surgery I felt a strange presence in the apartment and began to see Frieda sized shadow figures. Judy noticed them too in her visits and when Molly and I returned for good Frieda came with us. Both of us occasionally feel her presence and see her shadow.

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The Wind on the Beach

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” Martin Luther

Anyway, as I mentioned Molly went blind just before returning from North Carolina. The blindness was very quick to develop, and according to the veterinary eye-speciallist was congenital. However, that did not stop Molly, she adapted and overcame. To prevent injury to her eyes we got her a clear visor which covered her head and eyes but still allowed her to function almost normally. She would use it like a blind person uses their cane to figure out where she was, and if needed as a weapon to get our attention. If we had to move furniture around, she figured out what was moved and proudly let us know what she knew. 

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Molly at Age Seven, Not long after surviving a serious Spinal Infection

About a year ago she was diagnosed with the beginning stage of renal failure. She continued to do relatively well until a few months ago when she began to shed a lot of weight. Even so until a couple of weeks ago she still got around fine and gave us little cause for concern. She took a serious turn for the worse last week. On Thursday she stopped eating as she was occasionally throwing up and had developed a bloody diarrhea but Saturday. Judy and I knew that she was in pain and suffering and while I was at Gettysburg we decided that today would have to be the day. I got home from Gettysburg last night and we loved on Molly. Since she would eat nothing else we got her some hot and fresh Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, which she ate joyfully.

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Molly Giving Orders

This morning we made arrangements to take her in. Minnie and Izzy both gave Molly gentle kisses and nuzzled her before we left. I am sure that they knew that Molly wasn’t coming back. The look of concern on Minnie’s face was heart-warming. Judy drove as I cradled Molly in my arms. With the exception of her time in North Carolina this vet, Dr Robin Knoppf of Abbey Animal Hospital has been her vet. Many of his staff have known Molly for years and a number were with us, one a tech named Sean were with us shedding tears for the Amazing Molly Fur.

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Happy Trails Molly…Until We Meet Again

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Just before eleven A.M. Dr Knoppf gave Molly the injection which helped Molly into the next phase of her journey. Judy and I were holding her and Dr. Knoppf had a hand on her as he listened to her final heartbeats. Molly died surrounded by people who loved her.

It was sad, but it was also reassuring for as we looked at her we could see that she was not longer in pain and was at finally at peace. Some believe that what we see in this live is final, but I am not so sure.

I fully expect that we will see Molly again. That being said I have been crying more that I have for any reason since I can remember. Judy has been too, and thankfully the Pappies, Minnie and Izzy have been wonderful.

Thank you for allowing me to share this, and remember to love your furry babies.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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