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For the love of Molly

"A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty." ~ John Grogan

December 27th 4:15pm:

I just saw one of the most heartwarming reunions ever. I am sitting in the MSPCA Angell Animal Hospital waiting room. A beautiful Newfoundland was being discharged from the hospital. I got the feeling that he has been here for a while. His family was waiting in the reception area. The double doors opened and the big Newfie (as they are nicknamed) came barreling through the doors and literally into his family’s arms. You could hear then cry with delight as he bounded toward them; there was no doubt in anyone’s mind who witnessed this reunion that they were his and he was theirs.

I am sitting in the waiting area next to them as a anxiously wait for a neurologist to exam my dog and then come talk to me. We already saw a regular doctor and I am exhausted. My dear Molly has had one hell of a time the past several days and to be honest, so have I; thought I had it all pulled together until I saw the Newfie and his family back together and now, I am a mess.

Anyone who has spent even five minutes with me knows how crazy in love I am with my basset hound mix Molly. We have been to hell and back together and I was just commenting to people recently how well she has been lately. She has had quite a year with multiple health issues including surgery for an ear hematoma, a laceration repair, and some hind leg problems. I should have known that this calm in our lives, both with her health and my own, would not last very long.

It has been a nightmarish past five days getting the run around from other incompetent vets and watching her suffer a lot of the time with piercing cries due to the agony she was in. They think she may have intervertebral disk disease based on her symptoms. I am so angry. I kept telling these other vets (including an ER one) that something wasn’t right. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew something was. She has too high a pain tolerance to be this vocal…she must be hurting so bad. I can’t stand to see her suffer. I know to some people she is just a dog. But imagine having a connection to a living being, any living being, and having to watch their agony; but yet not be able to get them the help they need. It is heartbreaking.

December 27th 8:45am:

I am home. Molly was admitted to the hospital last night. I am devastated. She was seen by the neurologist and he said that they will do an MRI in the morning, but they are certain she has a herniated disk in her spine and it has caused nerve damage. They think she will walk again and have adequate pain control, but she has most likely lost bladder and bowel control for the rest of her life. She is about 9 ½ yrs. old. They did not present this to me as an option verbally, but I have to decide now if I should put her through a painful surgery with a long recovery and possible complications. The option is that I don’t and she is put down because I cannot take her home like this and let her suffer. Am I physically and emotionally able to care for a dog who needs to have her bladder expressed 4 times a day, not to mention managing the fecal incontinence? They say you cannot put a price on a pet but the reality is, I am looking at about $6000 this week in bills and I am on disability. That does not include what it will cost me to manage the incontinence issues as well as the vet bills to deal with bladder complications, medications, etc. They found she has a heart murmur as well which is caused by something called mitral valve prolapse. It has not caused any heart damage and does not require any medications right now but the reality is, I am sure it will be an issue at some point. I can’t even believe I am thinking of putting her down. What is the best thing for Molly? How do I make a decision like this? I feel like I am playing God. I feel like I am being selfish.

December 30th 1:50pm:

Molly is laying quietly in front of me on the rug. She had the surgery. There was more disk material to remove from her spinal cord than they anticipated. She must have been suffering so much. To the amazement of the vet staff and myself, she is not only walking already, but is going to the bathroom on her own as well. To me, it feels like a miracle. They say she is not out of the woods yet and her post surgery recovery will be long but we should know more for sure as the weeks progress. She is amazing.

There was something very powerful emotionally about going into Boston to pick up the dog you thought you might never take home again. It changes things. It made me stronger because now I know when the time does come for Molly to leave me, I will be able to make the right decision for her.

So how did I finally make the decision to do the surgery? I guess it came down to asking myself the important questions. Is she likely to have a good quality of life afterwards? What constitutes a good quality of life for her in particular? Will I be able to take care of her? If I run into a crisis with my own health issues, will I have support? Once I pay the vet bills, can I still pay my own basic bills/medical costs? Because of the positive outcome she has had so far, it is easy to sit back and say I made the right decision but really, there was no right or wrong decision. At the time, it was a no-win situation that I could not predict the outcome of. So I had talked more with the vet, researched her condition (for hours and hours!), and prayed. And in the end, I made the decision I thought was best for the love of Molly…


  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog Christine! You are truly inspirational! Keep 'em coming!!


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