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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
So Much to Choose From…
Turn left at the drive through
Keep the Window Down…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Trails Molly…Until We Meet Again
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.