For Valentines Day my girlfriend, Andrea, gave me a small stuffed dog. She knows I love stuffed animals and I love this one a lot. Being stuffed, it’s hard to tell for sure, but she sure looks like my Border Collie, Molly.
She looks enough like her, that I named her “Molly” as well. I sleep with the stuffed version because the real deal is in California living in the mountains with my ex who loves her just as much as I do. She has the space to give her a good life and I do not – just another casualty of transition.
Molly is getting on in years. This December, she will turn 15. Molly came into my life when I lived in Houston. We drove out to a ranch in Fulshear, Texas, a tiny town of less than 2,000 in beautiful country west of Houston. She was part of a litter of working dogs on a big pecan ranch that also had sheep. The Border Collies were the sheriffs there – keeping the flock in order.
I believe the family who had the litter wanted the mother to get back to work and let the puppies go a little early. Molly was so tiny I could hold her in the palm of my hand. It was my ex-wife who came up with the name “Molly” and I loved it.
Puppies are a lot of work and Molly was no exception. I had to get up at 3am to go to work so I would take Molly out to go potty and praise her when she did. After that, my wife would handle the duty. We adopted a second puppy at the same time, a German Shepherd named Gypsy. She and Molly became good friends but had their moments. (Gypsy passed in 2011)
Molly grew quickly and was very smart. She loved to chase anything and return it. Tennis balls were her favorite but if one wasn’t handy, she would bring things to you until you threw one. I remember a nap one day where I fell asleep on the couch and woke up with dog toys all over me. Molly had dropped them one by one on my chest in hopes that I would find one appealing enough to throw.
We put in a pool and Molly took to it like an otter but never jumped in without permission. She loved to swim. Molly learned to chase the Frisbee too. Since we lived in a neighborhood where there was plenty of car traffic, I taught Molly to lie down when I said: “Molly! Down!” Even if she was at a dead run, she would drop and not move until I called her. This was most useful around cars. Molly is an obedient dog mostly because she just wants to please.
Molly moved with us from Houston to Atlanta, then later, on to California and back to Dallas. When I transitioned and my wife and I split up, Molly stayed with me in Dallas. She didn’t care one way or the other what gender I was. She followed me everywhere.
Since it was just she and I in the house, she wanted to be wherever I was. This was sometimes a problem because of her age…she had some problems climbing stairs. I slept upstairs and for a while, I carried her up there when I went to bed at night. The stairs were bare wood and she had trouble getting a good grip.
Last May, I had to move out of the house and into a shared condo with a friend. She had kitties and no yard. I had to give Molly up. My ex-wife agreed to love her for me and care for her, so I drove Molly to California to live. I’ve seen pictures and video, my beloved dog is well cared for and seems happy.
That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. I do. Every day. I see pictures of her on a photo flipper in my room and on my phone.
Her stuffed counterpart also reminds me of Molly. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I really love the stuffed Molly a lot. But I miss my real Molly so much it hurts. She will be 15 this year and I just don’t know if I will ever see her again. I try and put that thought out of my head.
It’s just another staggering cost of transition. I’m not complaining (OK, I am a little) because there was no other viable option. I’m super glad Molly is being well cared for, I just wish I was the one doing it. I love my roommate, Katie…but I sure do miss having my best friend laying a few feet away wagging her tail at the mention of her name. Someone who is always there, no matter what – accepting me regardless.
Friends like that are few and far between.