My Molly Has Died

So, yesterday’s MidLifeBlogger’s post was meant to be a Bits & Pieces.  I had three cool things to tell you about, not the least of which is a post on MidLife-Beauty.  But yesterday I didn’t write at all.  Yesterday I mainly cried.

The day before yesterday, my Molly died.  Just those words bring the tears.  Can I write through them or should I take a break……

Her death was unexpected and yet not.  For a year or so she was being treated for a chronic heart condition. “Left sided congestive heart failure with mild pericardial effusion. Degenerative mitral valve disease with moderate to severe valvular insufficiency and moderate valvular prolapse with severe left-sided cardiomegaly. Degenerative tricuspid valve disease with trace insufficiency and moderate valvular prolapse without right-sided cardiomegaly. Atrial fibrillation. Severe pulmonary hypertension. Increased respiratory rate and effort likely related to the pulmonary hypertension. 

Such big words and an awful lot wrong for a little dog who only weighed about 16 pounds. Those last three were new problems as of late July, and we went home from the vet with new meds and a new regimen. Six different drugs, some given every 12 hours and others every 8.  The timing of them, I don’t mind telling you, taxed my math-resistent brain, but I was determined to Get Them Right.  I set my alarm for an hour or so before I’d normally get up so I could start and finish the regimen at reasonable hours.  To amuse myself, I used the Barking Dog alarm on my iPhone, and more than once I thought it was the neighbor’s dog incessantly barking again!

This all happened just before one of our planned trips to LA.  Molly loved to travel.  She had her own carseat, which we called her ‘basket’ and she drove all over the west with me. Her cardiologist, Dr. MacKie, said it was okay for me to take her to LA.

“She doesn’t know she’s sick,” he said, “and it’s all about quality of life now, what makes her happy.”

But I knew parts of our LA stay would require her staying alone and that didn’t seem very happy-making to me.  So I left her home in the excellent care of Dennis and I flew down to LA by myself.

When I got back, she seemed much better. Her energy level was up and she was acting like her old puppy-ish self.  The new meds seemed to be working and I couldn’t wait to take her back to Dr. MacKie for a Recheck. I just knew he was going to tell me that the a-fib had resolved itself.  I made the appointment for exactly two weeks from from he last saw her: Tuesday, August 7 at 3:20 p.m.

On Monday, I gave her a bath, which she predictably hated.  I brushed her and clipped her as long as she would allow it, which wasn’t long.  But still, she was a relatively furry white puffball when we got to VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center.  As we went in the door, I looked for her name on the big board where they welcome all the dogs that have appointments that day.  It wasn’t there and I was disappointed.

As usual, we had to wait a bit for Dr. MacKie.  Molly walked around, she sniffed, she drank water, she cuddled in close and she barked an angry warning at a very large Doberman across the way.  That was Molly, fearless when she felt I needed her protection.

Dr. MacKie came out with his two resident vets (VCASVRC is a training hospital), both women, both looked friendly.  And Dr. MacKie–short, rolypoly, with endless warmth and time to give both Molly and me.  She liked him–because he so obviously liked her.  He sat down with us and we talked a bit about her progress.  I told him she had seemed so much better.  Except, maybe this morning, when she’d been a little off again.  “Let’s take her back and see what the recheck says,” he said.  I gave her leash to one of the resident vets.  They all trotted off together.  Just once she turned around and looked at me. “Bye, bye,” I said.  “I’ll see you soon.  Be a good doggie.” Satisfied, she turned and walked away with the three vets.

And that was the last time I saw her alive.

She crashed on his table.  Turned blue.  He came out to tell me and to offer my choices: he could try to draw out the excess fluid from around her heart, but she might not live through it.  And if she did, we were buying a most a month or so.  Or I could let her go.

I didn’t really dither over the decision.  “I want to hold her while you do it,” I said.

“Of course,” he answered, and led me back to one of the empty examining rooms.

Then he came back and said, “I think she’s making the decision for us.”

And the next time he came in, he was carrying Molly wrapped in a blanket.  I thought he was bringing her to me to euthanize.  No, she was already dead.  He put her in my arms and I felt the warmth and weight of her body. Then, as now, I cried for how much I didn’t want to be without her.

She was so intricately woven into the fabric of my life that there is nothing I do, no small act that doesn’t bring up my grief anew.  I am awash in sorrow, and yet I wouldn’t have given up those years with her for anything.


  • lizzir

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Jennifer Boykin

    Oh, beautiful Jane, I am so very sorry for your loss. So very, very sorry.

  • grownandflown

    So sorry to hear about Molly passing away. We have had a series of 4 chocolate labs since we married and it was traumatic when the first and then second one died. I miss them every day but feel so happy to have had them as part of our family history.

  • kathykate

    love to you and the silence which deafens our homes once our dogs leave us. xo

  • Patti Winker

    I’m so sorry, Jane. Our furry family members take such a firm hold of us that when they leave us, it’s almost more than we can bear. You are in my heart now and as you go through this painful loss.

  • Duchess

    Molly was such a sweet, pretty creature…. You write so well about her last hours and your loss.

  • NL

    I got my baby boy when he was newborn. He had oodles of personality and heart and lived 15 long, healthy, and happy years. I just lost him last year and I will forever miss him as I know you miss your beautiful Molly. I completely understand your sorrow! Some ideas that might help are to donate Molly’s toys to the shelter (eventually), make a scrapbook with pictures of her and you, and have someone that will listen to you talk about and remember her. God bless you and I truly am so sorry for your loss.

    • janegassner

      NL…Your comment hit home, and I thank you for it. I like the idea of donating Molly’s toys to a shelter.

  • KateDavisNews

    Our family of loved ones includes pets who bring joy every day to our lives.

  • Chloe

    Oh no. I’m so sorry. Poor Molly. It is so hard when our fluffy loved ones die. My heart goes out to you.

  • Kim Prince

    Oh, Jane, this is heartbreaking. Poor Molly. Poor you.

  • Donna Freedman

    I am sorry for the loss of your beloved friend.

  • Mary Walker

    So sorry for your loss. She had to cross the Rainbow Bridge but she will be there waiting for you. My husky has not been doing well for the last couple months and I dread that day to come. But we had 2 other dogs we had to put down and I think having to make that decision is even worse. She will be 13 in December and as I’m writing this I’m crying with you. Just remember that she had a good life and she didn’t suffer. You will be reunited someday.

  • Margaret (nannygoats)

    Jane – I am so sorry for your loss. You and Molly obviously loved each other so very much. How heartbreaking. :(

  • Katie Berryhill

    So sorry for your loss, Jane. But I’m glad that she had such a wonderful life with you!

  • Laura

    I’m so sorry that your Molly is gone. Makes me think about how much beauty pets add to our lives.

    • janegassner

      Thank you, Laura. Pets do add so much to our lives; sometimes they even complete them.

  • Stacy

    Good on you, dear. Beautifully written. Perfect. My heart goes out to you.

    • janegassner

      Your words and your post on the little white dog were the impetus to write this now when it’s raw. Your reaching out in that way meant so much.

  • Lucie

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    • janegassner

      Thank you, Lucie, for taking the time to say so.

  • Lisa_GrandmasBriefs

    Losing a beloved pet hurts so very much. I’m sorry you’re hurting. My heart goes out to you.

    • janegassner

      Thanks, Lisa, it helps that there are lots of people like you who know what I’m feeling.

  • Pjpusser3

    Ah Jane. How happy you made her life. Love Laurie

    • janegassner

      I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to meet her, Laur. She would have liked you!

  • Donna Schwartz Mills

    I’m so sorry, Jane. So sad.

    • janegassner

      Thanks for taking the time to write, Donna. It means a lot to me.

  • ann tracy

    I’m so sorry for your loss…<3

    • janegassner

      Thank you, Ann.

  • SharonGreenthal

    The death of a pet is such a terribly sad experience – I write this as my wonderful Lambeau lies here next to me, content just to be at my side. I am so sad for you.

    • janegassner

      Sharon…tell me about your Lambeau.

      • SharonGreenthal

        Here is my Lambeau, named for the Green Bay Packers home field (my husband’s family is from Wisconsin). He is the 4th dog we’ve had since we’ve been married, and he is an absolute joy.

        • janegassner

          Awwwwwww. He’s gorgeous! Thanks for sending the photo.

  • Pam

    Jane, what a moving tribute you have written. My heart goes out to you over the loss of your Molly.

    • janegassner

      Thanks, Pam. It was definitely from the heart–actually, more from the gut.

  • Emeraldcher

    Such a sad sad story but she led a fantastic life it sounds like, all because of YOU and how you nutured and loved her too. I swore after we lost our 3rd dog…never again will I ever let myself be heartbroken again. NO more dogs. That was 2004. 2005 I saw this cute little puppy dog who was abandoned at birth, a mut. Molly is still with us today. Last year, unforeseen circumstances gave us another stray and Sammy is a cuddling love bug of a boy half terrier half whatever! We don’t know and don’t care. They are our “kids” and we love and spoil them to death.

    After the mourning there comes the reality of a house empty. AS an empty nester, our kids are now our dogs and our bio kids are our visitors/guests. A big switch but wouldn’t trade it for anything else!
    The Rainbow Bridge
    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

    • janegassner

      I loved reading about your Molly and Sammy. Reminds me that life goes on….

  • Helen Jane

    Oh honey, I’m so sorry for your loss. Take good care of yourself.

    • janegassner

      Thanks, Helen Jane. I can feel your caring and concern all the way over here.

  • Kay Lynn

    Darn it, now I’m crying at work. I’m so sorry for your losing your Molly. It seems like she had a wonderful life.

    • janegassner

      I’m not glad you’re crying at work but I am glad you got to see a bit of what Molly meant to me. She did have a pretty good life and, in the end, a good death, albeit too soon.

  • Jayne

    My heart breaks for you, Jane. I’ve been where you are too many times. It never gets easier. No matter how long we have them, it’s never long enough. I’m so very sorry for your loss, my friend. Big hugs…

    • janegassner

      Thanks, Jayne. It never gets easier, true. But they are worth every ounce of agony.

  • Shani Ferguson

    She was such a nice dog. Not only fluffy and adorable, but sweet and loving. Can a dog be witty? That’s the word I keep wanting to use.

    I like to think that she waited until she was with the vet, and you weren’t alone.

    • janegassner

      So perfect, Shani, that Molly was witty. Yes, I think it’s apt. I like the idea that she waited till she was with the vet, that maybe that last look was goodbye.

  • Average Jane

    I am so sorry for you and poor Molly. I’m so glad you had as much time together as you did.

    • janegassner

      I’m glad we had that time together too, but damn, I wasn’t ready for it to be over!

  • Debontherocks

    Oh, dear, so sad. My heart goes out to you as you grieve your loss. xo

    • janegassner

      Thanks, Deb. Your saying so means a lot to me.

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