01 December 2009

farewell miss molly muffin (mmm)

that was her name when i picked her up in cheyenne, wyoming in the sierra trading post parking lot. she wasn't a very happy dog - in fact, she was a snappy dog. and a big older girl, at that (85 lbs and almost 11 years old). i was a little anxious about having her in the car with me and not knowing what she was capable of. she'd been through a lot and probably had no idea what was going on. muffin's human mom got alzheimers and her family in kansas city relinquished her to ATRA when she went into a care facility. then she went to live in a home in wyoming, but that didn't work out either. i agreed to foster her at my home in denver. it was thought she would do best in a home without other animals and i had recently sent father and daughter airedale team, duncan and gypsy, to their forever farm in kansas. i really had no intention of fostering again - there is a satisfaction to doing good by these precious animals, but it is still heartbreaking for them to leave you.

but i'm a sucker, and priscilla asked, so there i was driving to wyoming to meet a pretty muffin airedale. it took us about 3 months to really trust each other, but i fell in love with her right off the bat. only problem was, i felt silly standing at the park calling out her name, 'MUFFIN'! so i prefixed it with miss molly and she became triple m to me. of course, she had lots of nicknames and songs to go along with them - munchkin, muffinhead, boo, miss thang, etc. such a smart girl - she picked up on it very quickly and was always so responsive. i never had any problems letting her off-leash. even when we walked down to the park one night and surprised a skulk of foxes. i let her chase them for a few seconds and then called her back with no incident. and the time camping when the moose approached our campsite she was at attention, but looked to me for direction. 'no, molly, no moose chasing today, please.' i got a ticket from the city of denver a few days before she died for 'dog at large' because she was walking right next to me off-leash when the dog cops drove by. i'm inclined not to pay that $80 ticket just out of principle.

she'd been with me for about a month when i found out she was a frisbee dog. we were camping with a group of friends and dogs and someone had a frisbee laying next to their chair. miss molly pranced over, gently picked it up in her mouth and started tossing it around for herself. i started throwing it for her and she would run run run to catch it and when catch it she did, she would proudly return to me with the disc. she loved to fetch balls, too - almost in an obsessive retriever sort of way.

her love of running and jumping is probably what did her knee in. in january, at 11 years old, she had an expensive knee surgery (tplo). even though she was older, she was still very active and with no other health issues, so we decided to go ahead with the procedure. in the process of healing from that, she tore the ligament in her 'good' knee, rendering her somewhat lame for a couple of weeks. it was determined that surgery was not the best option while still healing from the first one, so we tried a less expensive and invasive doggie knee brace. the theory being that the brace would provide stability in the knee while the dog would build up scar tissue where the ligament was torn. the scar tissue can make it appear that the ligament had grown back together and allow miss molly more mobility. she didn't like wearing the brace - we probably used it for a couple of weeks before she started getting around quite well without it.

mmm was with me for one year and 3 months and that's enough time to get really attached to any companion. earlier this year she was diagnosed with a melanoma in her mouth - a tumor right inside her bottom teeth. to remove the tumor would mean removing most of her lower jaw and either way she wouldn't be afforded many additional days. the doctor (the exceptional ryan cavanaugh at alameda east) gave her about 9 months and that was pretty spot on for when she began to deteriorate. she was spoiled more than ever before in those 9 months and was just about 6 weeks away from her 12th birthday when we sent her to airedale heaven. molly was a beautiful soul who captured the heart and attention of anyone around her. especially me. i miss you, miss munchkin. you will be forever in my heart.