Love me, love my neurotic, ancient, ravenous dog
Most people are surprised to learn we are a two-dog clan. I often write about little Nicky (aka She Who Rules), and nothing about Widdle’s dog, Molly. So here’s the scoop.
Molly is a gigantic, shambling black Lab who lives in the fenced back yard. Widdle adopted her as a wee pup. She slept inside back then. He even took her on the road, back when he had a traveling job. Then one day Molly decided she did not wish to set paw indoors ever again, and she never has--with one nerve-wracking exception.
One night, when a hurricane seemed imminent, Widdle literally dragged her 90-pound bulk into the kitchen, where he’d made her a pallet of towels and sheets.
She crouched there, spraddle-legged, and proceeded to pant hysterically for hours. She refused to stand, sit or lie down. Finally, when the wind and rain stopped, Widdle opened the back door. She bolted into the night and hit the ground running. Then she dug a hole and passed out in it.
Molly’s holes—there’s a bottomless topic. The very first time I went to Widdle’s house, I noticed a large hole in the grassy side yard. It looked like a meteor had landed.
“What is that?” I asked.
“Molly’s recliner,” he said, and it made perfect sense.
Over the years Molly has dug several other recliners, for different times of the day. At 7 a.m. she might be in her Barcalounger (ha, get it?). By 3 p.m. she’s moved to her cabana, in sync with the sun’s rays. Her snug holes seem to soothe her old bones.
Widdle long ago made her a nice sleeping area in the storage shed, next to her automatic feeder. He even installed a heat lamp for her. She seldom uses it—the shelter, not the feeder. Boy, does she use that feeder. But she’s not big on shelter: She also has a large, expensive doghouse she’s never so much as sniffed at. She prefers the great outdoors.
Many a morning, Widdle has walked outside after a bitterly cold night to see Molly comfortably wedged in one of her holes, sleepily thumping her tail, with frost covering her coat from neck to rump.
Speaking of Widdle, Molly is a one-man dog and Widdle is her man. She has no interest in other people. I can’t count the times she’s stalked off as I was petting her. A friend who’s had a lifetime of Labs said, “I’ve never seen one so aloof.” Happily, she appears to be mildly fond of Nicky; that’s a relief, as they spend lots of time together and she outweighs Nicky by 75 pounds.
The years have forged an understanding between Molly and me. I’ve learned that she will eat anything: burned birthday cake, over-salted vegetables, hard biscuits. She has learned that my cooking errors will be laid at her feet. When I open the back door and yodel, she comes running.
Molly is almost 14 now, but still lively: Recently she escaped by crawling through thickets and brambles to scale the almost vertical slope of a drainage ditch. She immediately marched up to the corner store, which sells the best fried chicken in town. She hung around and cadged handouts for hours.
Animal Control eventually A) returned her to the yard and B) left a ticket on the doorknob. When we got home, she still had grease on her muzzle.
Probably not the best diet for an old dog, but what a way to go.
Julie R. Smith, who will miss Molly more than she admits, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.