SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2009
My husband and I moved to Asheville, N.C. some 10 years ago. We actually did what many of our friends waxed poetic about as all of us began to age and become more introspective about our lives and all discussion seemed to revolve around “roads not taken.” We chucked it all, our jobs, the home of our entire adult lives and our friends. Well, of course we didn’t chuck our friends but they certainly would no longer be gathering around the hearth so to speak. It’s hard to gather from hundreds of miles away.
A dog is a best friend you bring with you. She loved the move. Always inspired, reclaiming her child doggie self in the “out of doors.” We hiked at Dupont Forest, we hung out in the North Carolina Arboretum, we explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and marveled at all this natural beauty free for the viewing. Off lead was of course her favorite time. Freedom was Molly. Running free, scampering after squirrels, attacking leaves in the fall as though they were a menacing presence and in the summer time she became “butterfly magnet” in chasing maneuvers that truly defied all gravitational pull. She was seamless in her rendition of a bird as she flew through the air in butterfly pursuit with the greatest of ease and unbelievably enough never seemed to either injury herself or actually catch her prey. This did not restrict the joy of the effort. The winter, now that was worth seeing. Dog was in her element. She loved the snow. Falling snow provided interest for the chasing mechanism it availed her of. Ground snow proved even more alluring as it provided the burrowing opportunity so loved by poodles. Most folks think of Poodles as fluffy cute dogs more of a decorator variety but they actually possess hunting abilities. Why, something might actually be found in that snow bank. Ask Molly, she explored them all.
This winter was going to be different. In these last few years age took its toll on our friend. She became an elderly canine. My husband developed a means by which to re-design regular disposable diapers to accommodate our canine friend. Doggie diapers currently on the market are not really horribly effective when bladder and bowel issues become prevalent. However, with the aid of scissors, proper measurement of tail placement on said doggie, regular baby diapers can be wonderful and we employed them daily. Ambulation became an issue, so did stairs. Hearing was difficult and vision declined. The once intuitive, divining, insightful, ” boring into your soul look” our Molly was known for became a vague, confused and faraway look. Does any of this sound familiar? If any of you have ever watched a beloved relative or parent in advanced age it does. All is not lost however. Touch, the universal translator, transcending the need to see, hear or understand became the communicator. Receiving that made her know she was still loved. She was touched, she was carried to the bathroom, she was held up over her water bowl when she could no longer stand so she could take a drink.
There was no apparent pain and on that last morning she wakened me very early by barking. Barking was a noise we never heard at that time. She simply didn’t do it anymore. Arriving in the living room I noted that she was still in place on her bed. She was still all covered up and warm but her feet, all four of them were running in place. They were going faster and faster and the barking continued. Not loud, just insistent. She seemed to be smiling. I am choosing to believe that at the end she was feeling fine, her keen mind returning, her doggie legs once failed came under her power again, nothing hurt, her hearing and acute sight returned as in her puppyhood and she was again flying through the air, perhaps finally capturing that elusive butterfly. Now, theologians will tell you that dogs don’t have souls and hence they cannot dedicate their souls to God. I don’t subscribe to that theory. I do believe dog’s go to heaven. We could seek to emulate their kindness, their joy, their acceptance, capacity for forgiveness and their unparalleled ability to love and most of us would fall far short. One could argue about what constitutes a soul but that surely is more than a start. We will see you again Molly.
Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls