If you've followed me long enough, you should know that I have a dog. Chances are you've seen her before, both in pictures that I've uploaded here, and in some of my videos.
Let's talk about her. Where to start...?
When I was about 10, my folks got me a Beagle. We called him Olie. We loved him. After a time, though, things kinda fell apart and we had to give him away for a while. He stayed with my Grandfather, who's wife simply LOVED the little guy and spoiled him constantly. Whenever we went over to see him, Olie's heart sang and he howled to the heavens. After some months, though, my grandpa's wife left him, and she'd grown so attached to Olie that she, well, decided he'd become more her dog than ours. Which, I guess, was true. I still remember the last time I ever saw him... we'd just left grandpa's, and she was going in just as we were heading out. She dragged Olie away from us, probably just stopping by to get some of her stuff. But, like always, Olie remembered us and howled at us to come and pet him.
You guys know this story. You've heard it, before. After the adults decided we couldn't see Olie anymore, I cried and cried and made lots of silly, angsty art about it. I'd never see him again, so he basically was dead in my own little world. I didn't think I had it in me to love another dog, let alone another beagle.
But then Molly happened. Molly had a checkered past. Her early life is sort of a mystery, but we have a vague idea that she was a abused by her original owners in Ohio. Maybe she was bred to be a hunting dog, but didn't make the cut? It sounds like she lived her early years trapped in a cage, four or five feet off the ground. Whatever happened, it gave her PTSD. She was eventually rescued from that life, and brought to Maine. She was taken in by a woman who ended up having to give Molly up while she sorted out her own problems, and she was passed on to the woman's sister, Mandy. Mandy took care of Molly for a year or so, but also had to give her up after a while. She was so busy with college that she didn't feel she could be present enough to give Molly the care that she deserved. Molly did make some friends while she was there, though. Mandy had, like, four cats to keep her company. So yeah, Molly got really comfortable being around cats, and for a long time afterward, she'd get emotional any time a cat was nearby. It made me feel bad for never getting one for her to play with, but... I'm allergic to cats, so... >shrug<
Mandy put Molly up on Craigslist, and when my mom saw her, she just KNEW that this was the right dog for us. No competition. It wasn't even a very good photo, she just had this sense about it. And it paid off. We drove over to Mandy, who was a coupla' hours away, and picked up Molly. I still remember it like it was... yeah, you know how the rest of that sentence goes. I remember how old I was, how chubby I was at the time, I remember exactly what time of day it was, I remember what Mandy's house and some of her cats looked like. I remember meeting Molly. She was sooooo sweet. But, being a rescue dog, also very shy. When she rode in the backseat with my brother and I, my brother, Dillon, leaned in too close to cuddle her and she yelped at him. My mom looked back, and Molly just had this look of "Let's just... take this slow, all right?" and so her life with us began.
Molly was a very unusual beagle in that... she was quiet. She rarely howled, and she only whined a little bit whenever we came home. She got used to us a lot quicker than we expected she would. On the first or second night (can't remember which) this happened.
That's a photo I took of her sleeping on my brother's bed. She slept with me, too. After those first coupla' nights, though, she was relegated to sleeping in her own bed, though she tried to get back in bed with us more than a few times after that.
Molly was the best thing that could come my way. I NEVER called her "good dog," I'd always call her "good girl" because... it just sounded nicer, and I wanted her to know how sweet she was. She was a little chubby early on, as house beagles tend to be, but she thinned out a bit after a while, as you can see in other photos. We'd play, though it was... different than how a lot of dogs play. We'd put a bouncy ball in a sock and let her chase it around the floor, we'd get her to stand on her hind legs and dance for a treat (we'd dance with her), and while she was still a little "no touchie" for a while, she grew comfortable enough with us that she didn't even mind being petted while she ate.
So yeah, personality quirks... like I said, her traumatic childhood left her kinda damaged. She didn't make much noise, she didn't like to rough house with other dogs, and she was EXTREMELY submissive around us. If she ever started following that beagle nose of hers, all we had to do was "bark" her name, and she'd freeze in place, slinking on the ground. Olie would've just run off until we couldn't see where he was.
She was sooooooo cute. One of the sweetest things she'd do was just look up at you while you were petting her or saying things like "good girl," and... she'd lick her lips and gulp, like she was EATING our kind words. ARRRGGHH, too sweet. And she was one of the most emotional dogs I've ever met, but it was in a very subtle way. Oftentimes, she'd just let out this very small, barely audible wheezy noise, more like a gasp than a whine, especially if we were talking to her. Just LOOKING at her from across the room was enough to make her tremble. If she's sitting down and she sees you walking in from another room, her tail goes up and down really fast, just, like, an inch, like, "tappity tappity tappity," and if she was standing up, she'd get so antsy she'd sound like she was tap dancing. Heck, one time I was talking to someone else for a few minutes, but I was right in Molly's field of vision, and she just fell apart as I went on, like "That's my boy. He's my favorite. Oh, just listen to him."
Right from the beginning, Molly acted like an elderly person. She just wanted everything to be calm and quiet and comfortable. She was... therapeutic for me and my family. And I'm sure she helped me out with my autism, a fair bit. But yeah, she was very particular, and very delicate. She always sat down in the most ladylike, show-offish way she could, she'd trot ever so proper-like, and she'd "scoff" or snort whenever she was trying to tell us something.
She had her weird quirks too, though... the biggest one being that, if she ever made a mess, she almost always did it in her BED. Who knows why? Maybe she didn't want to ruin anything else? Then again, she probably did spend a chunk of her life trapped in a cage. Still... we ended up replacing her bed a... few times.
In all her years with us, though, she never even licked us (except maybe absent-mindedly, and only, like, once a year). She'd just sniff you a bit and... look at you. Again, we think quirks like these are a result of her abusive upbringing. If the scar on her chin is any indication of anything.... yeah, she probably got kicked a lot.
She didn't like to be near feet, and didn't get along with bigger, rowdier dogs (though she was all right, and even motherly, with smaller, well behaved dogs like Dachshunds or puppies), and for the longest time, she didn't like to be picked up (at least by her rear). She'd cry if anyone tried picking her up, until one magical day after we'd moved to a new place, when she met
Rebecca is, simply put, my best HUMAN friend in the world. We've been pen pals for most of my time on DA, starting a little while before we found Molly, and she came over from France for a few months one year to move in with a relative in America. When she was getting ready to return to France, though, she flew up to Maine and stayed with us for a week. That was a great week. On one of her last days here, she managed to pick up Molly and hold her on her lap... and Molly was completely cool with it. She just llllovvved Rebecca. After that, Molly had less issue with us picking her up, holding her, and even carrying her around if we ever felt like it. I've done this more than a few times in recent months.
This also happened just a few days within the death of Lisa, my stepmother, who meant a lot to me... what timing. When it was time for Rebecca to go, she told Molly "I'll never see you again," and... yeah. That kinda came true.
Well... not quite. A few days ago, we skyped, and I carried Molly into the room so Rebecca could see her on webcam. After getting to know Molly, herself, and after losing one of her own dogs, she knew how hard things were getting for me.
See.... Molly really WAS old. When we got her, we thought she was five or six, but then she got cataracts and the doctors told us she was actually 9-10 years old. This was a bombshell for me. I couldn't stop worrying that... we wouldn't actually get to be with Molly for very long, that we'd only have her for a coupla's years at most. At the years went by, I kept thinking "This is going to be the last summer. This is going to be the last family trip we bring her on. This is her last Christmas," and so on. She ended up holding out for us for a good 7 years, though, so it didn't make much of a difference in the end, anyway. We still had her for a good long while.
One thing that was always kind of interesting to me was that, well, this means that Molly and Olie were born around the same time. So if I ever wondered where Olie was or if he was okay, I just looked at Molly and she gave me all the consolation I needed. She... HEALED me.
I think about the day we first got her, flash back to that car ride home... and then I blink, and seven years go by, just like that. That's most of my time on this website. Our life with Molly started, and ended, in what seems like no time and all... but I wouldn't trade a day of it. If I could do it all over again... there's a lot I would give up for that.
I look back at this...
And... just LOOK at that description.
"I don't think I'll ever love any dog as much as my first dog, but I really love this one..."
But the thing is... I did. I think I ended up loving Molly a LOT more than Olie. I COULDN'T IMAGINE, back then, my teenage self, just how much Molly would help me make it this far. She was everything I needed in a companion. I don't make friends very easily. Oh, sure I have a lot of SKYPE friends, I brainstorm with people in Australia and Europe and even Japan, but... yeah, that's just it. Those people are all really far away. I'm friendLY to everyone I meet, but I don't actually connect with very many people in person. There's no spark there, no zing, except for once in a great long while, and even in those cases, I will go above and beyond to never let them down as a friend and they just ignore me anyway for... whatever reason. THIS is how far and wide I have to look to find real friends outside of immediate family members.
And it's the same with Dogs. I'm friendly to every dog I meet (as long as they don't growl at me or whatever and be an asshole), but I don't really CONNECT with most dogs because, well, they're doofy. Molly, though? Being a rescue dog, she just understood us. She understood me. On a very deep level, she APPRECIATED us and was eternally grateful to us for giving her a home, because she'd seen how bad the world could get. Olie, as good a boy as he was, didn't get us on that deep of a level, and just acted like a five year old kid on a sugar high most of the time.
All the same... a dog won't judge you, or say you're too needy or clingy or whatever. They just... look at you and make you think everything will be all right, because they'll always be there to make sure you're okay. A dog will watch over you and gaurd you while you're asleep at the airport. You don't even need to ASK them to do these things, it's just who they are. And the reason I keep describing them the way I do, with such vague, human terms, is because I DO think of them like they're little people, to some degree.
Molly had that look. She had a way of doing that like no one else. She was sooooo beautiful, especially for a Beagle. A lot of beagles' faces just get kinda lumpy or grumpy-looking, especially in old age, but Molly's face, even as grey as it got, was ALWAYS beautiful. She had the most humanlike eyes I've ever seen on a dog. And we always knew how much she loved us just from the looks she gave us. Even if she was ever in pain... just looking at us seemed to make her feel better.
This is Molly, last year, sniffing the sea air at our family getaway, "Contention Cove". Even at her ripe old age of 14-15, she wasn't showing many signs of it. Oh, sure, she couldn't jump as high, and her eyes and face were grey, and she slept more, but her personality didn't change one bit. I'd always tell people, "She's old, but she doesn't show it." But then she got a bump on her bum, right above her tail. Just one. I think you can spot it in this next photo.
We thought it could be anything. A tumor, parasites beneath the skin... we took her to a vet who said it was only skin deep, that it was nothing to worry about. But then she got another... and another... and another. She had a harder time walking around. She was having pratfalls on a daily basis. She kept... BITING and licking the growths, risking infection. And this spring, large patches of her skin started peeling off.
I got angry. I blamed myself for the skin problem, said that it was because we let her get too dry over the winter, made her wear a coat for too long, didn't bathe or brush her enough, told myself I could make her better if given enough time, just to make sure she'd be more comfortable in her last days than she was then... because I like taking care of her. I like making her comfortable. But I was just being a fool.
I've seen people keep their dogs alive for too long, pushing them to the point where they don't wanna eat or move or anything, and shit pure liquid almost every time, and look like they've crawled through a warzone. I swore to myself long ago that I wouldn't let Molly get to that point. I wouldn't let her get anywhere NEAR that point. And so, determining that she had skin cancer, we put her to sleep yesterday. Good timing, too, because in the days leading up to this... her condition was spiraling down, FAST. The original growth was HUGE, now. It had its own blood supply. More skin was falling off. What could we do? I'd actually thought I'd gone through most of the grieving process, that initial shock, days beforehand when we'd first DECIDED that we'd be putting her down, soon. Then, yesterday happened. All day, leading up to vet's arrival, I tried to keep on a happy face, and tell myself that it was better this way, that she'd be free soon, that we were doing her a favor. I sat in her room while I worked on Shadow of The Devilman. We basically made a goodbye party out of the day. We gave her all of her favorite treats until she was bloated like a balloon. Ice cream, meatballs, peanut butter... carrots. We took her out for one last walk. We sat in the shade and took photos. We said our goodbyes. She even licked my mother's hand at one point. Then the vet came. She was really nice. She gave Molly a sedative. Molly got dozey before long. She asked, last minute, if we had any second thoughts. I wanted so badly to shout "I'VE CHANGED MY MIND! I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!" but we don't have the money to get those moles sliced out of her or put her through chemotherapy... and how much longer would she live, anyway? A Year? A year and a half? Most of that time would be spent miserable. The sickness had just invaded too much of her body at that point. And yet... she was still happy. I wonder how long she would've fought on to stay with us, how long she would've suffered to keep us happy? To keep me from being lonely whenever nobody else was around? She was so sweet, she'd wag her tail until it snapped off like a twig. I couldn't... make her.
No, we had to do this. I held her in my arms as everything went dark, doing my best to hold back my tears until her heart stopped. I just kept whispering "good girl... good girl..." in her ear cause I wanted her to go knowing how wonderful she was.
I think that a person's (or animal's) last moments are their most important. You can't let them be scared at such a crucial time. hence, the sedative that just sorta put her in a happy place. If she got the lethal injection right off the bat... she'd probably be scared, wondering what was going on, confused as everything went dark. Still, better than taking her to a place she'd be unfamiliar with, scared out of her wits. It happened in her bed, in a blanket that smelled like me (she prefers sleeping on things that smell like us), and as soon as she died, I... I couldn't hold it in anymore. It happened slowly at first, then we took her to the car and started driving, and I sat next to her body, swaddled in the blanket, and I just kept crying more and more. And as the evening went on, it just... yeah.
I wanted so badly to take her with us to the cove, one last time. Anything to have her around just long enough for that. Some of my happiest memories, moments of perfect contentment, were in the car, on the way there, with her standing over me, just sniffing the air through a crack in the window. She was such a cuddlebug, and the cove was her favorite place to be. She was always at peace, there.
And so we buried her there.
And I bawled like a baby all day. Today, too. I couldn't even do anything to help dig her grave, because my arms felt like Jelly at the time.
The hardest part is that my mind just won't let her go. All night, all day, my mind's been... TRICKING me into thinking she's still here. I keep thinking "Uh oh, I'd better go check on Molly..." right as I'm listening to a song that someone dedicated to her!
RIGHT AS I'M TYPING THIS DOWN, even! I keep hearing her nails click-clacking on the floor in the next room, I keep hearing her sighing, I keep getting up to go to the bathroom and thinking "I'd better check on Molly again so she doesn't have an accident," I KEEP THINKING THAT OVER AND OVER, every few minutes, at some points, I keep rounding the corner, expecting her to have moved her bed in the doorway. To see her looking at me, in the dark, as I leave the bathroom, on my way to bed after showering. And then I break down again, waving my hand around like a crazy person, kneeling down and... petting and holding someone that isn't there, to comfort myself. I just... keep hearing her, and seeing her, and looking for her. I keep wanting to see if she's okay, even though she's miles away, now. Just today, I heard her again, and... and... I got so overwhelmed, I just HAD to get up and go to her bed, hoping against hope that this was all a dream and... somehow she'd be sitting there, looking at me, still. But she's not. And suddenly, my world is a whole lot emptier than it was just yesterday. I pick up the few hairs left of her on the bed, hold them between my fingers... and I can't stand.
One of the hardest things for me... and I know this is going to sound stupid... is missing her touch. I'm already struggling to remember all the sounds she made. Maybe it's because I'm autistic, and sensations like touch are just, like, a HUGELY important thing to us, (as important as smelling is to a dog), but whenever I was feeling down, stressed, scared, lonely, all I had to do was walk into her room, and see her looking at me. I'd crouch down, hug her, cuddle her, feel her face against my cheek... and I felt better. I felt safe. She was so warm and so soft, and no other dog I've petted ever felt the same. They were all thicker, smellier, grubbier. They shed more. Any time I was having trouble dealing with something, she was the most comforting thing in the world to me.
...And now I have no way to ever feel that again. and I want SO BADLY to feel it, to feel her. And I don't think I could ever try to get that feeling again by... just getting another beagle, a "Molly 2" or "New Dog." When I say "I don't think I could love another dog as much as her," I REALLY MEAN IT this time. Even if I got a puppy, no dog could even hope to understand me as well as she did. No dog will ever love me as much as she did. And you know what? That's just fine. I don't want anything to top that. I don't care how long it makes me sad. I want HER to be my dog. ONLY her. She's all I need. She's special, and I gave so much of my heart to this one dog that any other dog, would inevitably be a step down. And again... that's just fine. I'm not going to let this experience kill me. I'm not going to become some lonely old hermit who never enjoys life beyond the reach of his own keyboard. And I'm going to make certain that I see Molly again, waiting for me in the afterlife, as dumb and cheesy as it must sound.
Thank you for taking care of me, Molly. Thanks to you, I was never really alone. And I will never love any dog as much as you. I wasn't your daddy. I wasn't your big brother. You were my friend, more than most people will ever be. Thank you, Molly.
(this journal will be updated with more photos as I find them. You can see more of them in the video version of this journal.)