|SOMEWHAT GRAPHIC IN NATURE
I have this dog named Hogan. He is a big mean son of a bitch. He loves me. He loves my wife. And no one else. He tolerates the in laws, but only because he knew them when he was a puppy. Everyone and everything else is as a target that he is bent on destroying. At times over the last dozen years I have seen him kill other animals, and I have often thought he could kill a man. To us he is a friendly dog. To others he is a warning. Do not come any closer.
Eleven years ago we bought Hogan a puppy. Thatís what we always said. In truth we wanted a nice dog too. She was a beautiful little girl named Mollie. A German Short Haired Pointer. Such a beautiful little girl. I think I will never forget the day Mollie came to live with us, the day she met Hogan. He was furious and ferocious in his welcome. He towered over her screaming like a wild beast. His hackles were up, his eyes were bulging and slobber flung from his mouth with every bark. At first we thought we made a mistake. After thirty minutes of non stop threatening from Hogan we were about to give up. Only Mollie didnít seem to care in the least what Hogan said or did. She had decided to love him, and that she did, for the rest of her life.
I can still see her on that day, a fraction of his size, standing below and in front of the snarling beast. Her ears pulled back as he barked, her eyes squinted as she stretched into his face. At times her nose was inside of his massive jaws. She loved him, and she wasnít going to allow him to change that. I remember having to dry her with a towel after two hours of Hoganís showering drool. From then on they were friends.
Mollie was a high strung dog, full of energy, and wanting to hunt. We lived in town, and had no idea how much exercise a dog of this nature needed. She was always ready to go. She was as gentle as Hogan was fierce. A perfect mate for this killer. Then came the day we moved with our dogs to the farm. That first day we stood by dumbfounded as we learned the truth behind Mollieís loving face. She was a killer, a killer of extreme swiftness. Within seconds she had found the few old chickens left behind by the previous owners. Within seconds she killed said chickens, and the list goes on from there.
Mollie was a coon killer. She hated raccoons, and groundhogs. Skunks were fair game too. She felt no pain when she was on a kill. Many a time she came home all bloody from the fight, her skin torn and prickled full of thorns. Pain was not a factor. Mollie was truly a killing machine. Hogan remained a killer too, but nowhere near the killer Mollie was. Still when she came to us she was every bit as kind and cuddly and beautiful as she was the day we first met her.
Deer were a pastime for Mollie. She loved deer. She loved them raw, cooked, hanging, laying in a field and on the hoof. I once watched her punch into a young deer and knock it to the ground. From there she plunged into the soft tissue. She was a killer. Many young deer met their death the day they met Mollie. No matter how brave and protective their mothers, Mollie had her way. She loved deer so much that once when I had shot and lost a deer to the early winter darkness, all I had to do was call home and say, ďturn Mollie loose.Ē Within a few seconds she found the trail and the downed deer. She was so good at tracking downed deer that I often would call home and request a little assistance. She got to the point that whenever she saw me in camo or carrying a gun she would go wild with excitement. Mollie was a hunter, and a very good one at that.
Everyone knew Mollie. She was the friendly dog. She never jumped on anyone, and never showed aggression of any kind toward a human. She was just absolutely adorable. No one could resist petting Mollie, no matter what the circumstance. She had many special talents, the hunting thing was just part of the package. She could open doors. Really. She could use her nose and teeth to open doors. Once while photographing a bride at the studio Mollie opened the door and ran in to meet this new visitor. I screamed and ran, knowing that Mollie would think nothing of stepping on a white bridal gown. The bride, Sarah Gutman, just smiled and reached to pet her. No one could resist Mollieís charm.
The comedian Ben Stein once said that there was never a better dog to sleep beside than a German Short Hair. Mollie was no exception. She was the perfect sleeping dog. She liked to sleep between my wife and me, taking up the full length of the bed. Once asleep she was unmovable. If we wished to sleep in the bed we had to conform to her shape. This was never a problem. We loved to have her there, especially in the winter. She was warmer than three blankets. Perhaps the best part about sleeping beside Mollie was in knowing how much she loved sleeping with us. Nap time was like a little slice of heaven when Mollie was near.
Mollie made sounds like no other dog I have ever known. She had sounds for everything, and soon we learned to identify her needs by the sounds she made. Often we tried to imitated her sounds, and often she would respond by making the sounds back to us. She was as smart as she was lovable, and never was there a more loveable dog. I mean that. She was the kind of dog that you always felt deserved more love than you were capable of giving.
Yesterday Mollie was out late. This worried us because she is an old dog now, and a long day and night of running means a day or two of recovering from the exertion. Her joints cause her problems, and her muscles hurt her so much sometimes that she can hardly walk. We knew she would come home sore. When she got home she showed no sign of fatigue. She never did. She knew no pain when she was on a hunt. It was always the next day. So we gave her baby aspirin and we went to bed.
This morning I got up early to let Hogan out. Mollie was content to sleep it off. I woke my wife, and she got up for a drink and gave Mollie a few more pills. We both got back in bed, and Mollie slithered up between us. We knew she was in pain by the noises she made. Laying there I massaged her legs and back muscles. She moaned with approval. I noticed her breathing was kind of fast. She kept taking short quick little breaths. I reached over and took her head in my hand telling her to slow down a little, and she died. Right there in my hand, she died. Oh I pray God I die like that.
Right now we are sick. We are heart broken and angry. We are also grateful that Mollie lived the life she loved right up until she died. There was no long sickness, no need for a vet. She simply lived and died this morning. And to help make sense of it all I write, and I remember. Oh I wish you could see the picture in my head of that fearless little puppy lovingly looking up into Hoganís snapping jaws. And I wish you had the opportunity to wake up next to the comfort of a dog like Mollie. God how I miss her, and it hasnít even been a day.
I could go on telling stories, like how she could trick other dogs into doing what she wanted. One of my favorite tricks was how when she wanted up on the couch, and there was another dog on it, she would go to the toy box, pull out a toy, play with it for a short while to get the other dogís attention, and then walk away from the toy. As soon as the other dog went to play with the toy Mollie would jump onto the couch and lay down, never once looking back to the discarded toy. It was just a prop used to get what she wanted.
I mentioned how she killed those chickens. That was the only time she did that. When we started raising our own chickens, we showed them to her, and told her they were not to be hurt. You could see in her face that she wanted to, but she never once hurt our birds. She treated cats and kittens with kindness too, rubbing up and down their length, but never hurting them. She somehow knew what was fair game and what was not, a very smart dog.
Tonight will be the first night in eleven years that Mollie doesnít sleep in our bed. She is outside, in the ground in front of the plum tree, just outside the kitchen window. How fast the warmth left her body. How slowly I hope her warmth leaves ours. Today we lost a friend, a best friend. As I packed the earth around her I told her I would miss her until she returned. She knew what I meant. She was a smart dog, my little girl Mollie.
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