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Molly & me: letting go

By Harry Burrus

When I began volunteering to walk SPA dogs, I was immediately drawn to a medium-large black lab named Molly, a classic beauty. Her amber eyes penetrated like lasers. She had me.

Molly had been at the SPA over a year and was 17 months old. She was not walked often because she was difficult: hard to leash, a strong puller, and afraid of strangers and most street dogs.

For the next 10 months, Molly and I walked together. When something frightened her, I was like a rodeo performer, holding on as best I could as she bolted down a hill. Molly was agile, powerful and intelligent. She responded well to instruction and learned to sit, lie down, and stay on command. She absorbed affection and returned it in kind. She loved to play ball and to jump into the water troughs.

No one expressed interest in adopting Molly. Then one day a man named Carlos asked about medium-large dogs. I showed him five. Four were great with him, affectionate and responsive. Molly, though, did not leave my side and even growled at him. When I asked which he liked, he replied, “The black one.” He said he valued Molly’s loyalty to me. I assured him that once she knew him and his kindness, Molly would be loyal to him too.

To ease her transition, I rode with Molly in Carlos’ vintage pickup to her new home. Molly was going to share a life with horses, cows, chickens, and an old dog name Guardian. The golden light and countryside dust rushed through the window with Molly in my lap, looking out at the road and then up at me with those incredible, timeless eyes. She licked me on the chin. As I held her on her first car ride, I realized this was my last time with her and I thought of Tennyson’s “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Since that epic journey, I encountered Carlos’s wife twice. With a smile, she told me that she’s jealous of Molly because she thinks her husband cares more for Molly than he cares for her.

I didn’t lose Molly. I miss her greatly, but I am happy for her new life. I will never forget those mesmerizing eyes and her wonderful personality. We each have a piece of each other that will always exist.


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