According to my most trusted news source, Facebook, today is some sort of National Dog Day. I feel like I need to apologize to Duchess, Henderson, Herbie, Betsy, Lucy, Willie, Willie 2, Tilly, BJ, Sasha, Lizzie, Sassy, and Flower (plus some others, I’m sure.) I don’t recall us ever celebrating them on this Facebook holiday, but I hope they felt like every day was Dog Day with us! My dad always says that when he dies, he wants to be reincarnated as my grandparent’s dog. We learned to love dogs from them, although we don’t search area Publixes for the savory flavor rotisserie chicken as they have been known to do for their canines.
My love for dogs has been deep and lifelong, but my appreciation for their intuitive and healing powers has grown over the last 5 years. I could write for days about the funny and eerie stories from each of the 4 legged family members that we’ve had. However, I’m narrowing it down to three. The three whose lives are intricately woven into Molly’s story and our journey of grief.
This is Flower. (aliases: Fowie, Flower Power, Funeral Dog, Best Dog To Ever Live) When Molly was 4 or 5, Santa brought Molly a Golden Retriever puppy. Since Samta brought it to her, she was given exclusive naming rights. She scoffed at each of our suggestions, and was adamant that her name was, “Flower.” It took time for the dog and her namesake to grow on us. She was WILD! She spent months at a training facility, with the promise that she would come back knowing a plethora of commands. As it turns out, “a plethora,” for Flower meant one. But I guarantee you, for the next 14 years, that dog would come a running when you said, “Here!”
Flower was the best friend to every one in our family. She went to work with Dad, she made use of the pool whether we were enjoying it or not, and she would find her way into the bedroom of whomever was sleeping the latest so they wouldn’t be lonely. The night that Molly went into labor, she tried her hardest to alert us. When she made it into my room, I assumed her old lady bladder was full and escorted her out front. Flower was the reason that I got to see and speak with my baby sister one last time. Fortunately, she was old and a little senile. When we returned from the hospital, she was forlorn, but she bounced back pretty quickly. She was a gift to us in that first year. As broken as we were, she was always happy to see us, and we couldn’t see her without seeing Molly.
Here is our Sassie. (AKA: Sass, Sassers, Sassafrass, Prozac)
A few months before she died, Molly rescued this baby. She had been used for breeding, and when she had to have a hysterectomy, her owner had little use for her. Molly, as usual, flew in to the rescue. Sassie and Molly were inseparable. While Flower tried to warn us, Sassie did not leave her faithful master’s side during her immense suffering. In fact, when Mom found Molly, Sass was right by her still. It’s ironic that the children she could no longer bear is what led those two together. Immediately after, Sassie went into almost a deeper grief than we did. It was gut wrenching to watch her stop eating and look so sad. She went on Prozac, which actually caused a few laughs. When guests came, they had to sit on the floor because Sassers was usually flat on her back with all four legs in the air on the couch. Sassie immediately took to me. She was such comfort that spring and summer as I commented between Carrollton and Nashville. Eventually, Sassie’s broken heart won and she was back with the person whose example I could never match. Each night as Sassy curled up beside me to sleep, I’d stroke her neck and think, “I’m petting exactly where Molly did. My hand is touching hers.” I don’t know if I’d have survived without her.
So we’ve seen how the dogs handled the immediate situation of the trauma. Now, I’d like to share with you how a dog has helped with the long term survival of a broken heart. Meet Mary Nell…
This little butter ball was born on Election Day in 2012. Santa brought her to me that Christmas. I thought Santa was crazy. I was drowning at work, making it home just in time to fall in to bed and cry myself to sleep. How could I care for a dog when I could barely take care of myself? Then I looked at her face, how could I not take care of her?? Ironically, she has taken care of me. I know I’m obsessed with her. Basically all of my social media is centered on her, and I am always thinking of her and talking about her! You know the orbs that sometimes show in pictures and people say they are spirits? That happens with her. She’s a complete spaz, no lazy Pug here! But sometimes, she’ll literally be running laps around the house, she’ll stop and stare at nothing. I know it’s not nothing. I know she feels Molly. When I have a meltdown, she jumps in my lap, and uncharacteristically stops and just lays with me. She knows Molly, she knows when I hurt, and she knows that her sole purpose in life is to make me laugh and let me cry. I can’t imagine loving anything more.
So on this Facebook Dog Day, let me encourage you to ROCK with your dog. It’s RADICAL to think that dogs are so in tune with our needs and spirits around us. If you’re OPEN to the healing a dog can bring, your world will be more full of KINDNESS. If someone you know is grieving, let them love on your dog. The dog won’t tell her that she should be over it, the dog won’t feel uncomfortable and run away, and the dog won’t tell her it’ll be okay. The dog will be and let be. The dog will hurt, the dog will love, the dog will heal. Woof.
More than meat loves salt,