Every once in a while, you meet someone really special — someone who makes a big difference in your life, someone who is an inspiration and models exemplary qualities.
Such was the case with Molly, a yellow lab who came to me as a pup. I am convinced that Molly was a human in a dog’s body, for she understood English as plainly as any kid and could speak it as well. Well, not exactly in that way, but with her high level communication skills, she let you know exactly what was on her mind. And, she had plenty of opinions.
As Molly grew, she made it her business to watch over certain aspects of our home and family. She was part of a lab/retriever group I had at the time — a fairly rambunctious, rag-tag, street smart group that had come from different backgrounds. Molly was crystal clear about who ran the show and simply stepped into the roll of mothering them all. Each and every one of them listened to her; if Molly said it, it was so. It was amazing to watch as she soothed others just by her presence. The group was made up mainly of boys who got into everything they could find. They kept Molly quite busy.
Molly was crystal clear about who ran the show and simply stepped into the roll of mothering them all.
So, it was not surprising one day when I heard barking downstairs. In my world, barking is as natural and common as birds singing, so I tend to listen with one ear. This bark, however, was different. It was Molly using her emergency bark. I dropped what I was doing and raced downstairs. I flung open the door; Molly was standing straight in front of me with a rather disgusted look on her face and an expression that said, “What took you so long?”. “Molly!” I exclaimed. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” My voice was frantic and high-pitched. Without a word, Molly turned around and led me into another room where I found Tommy, an older golden retriever, with his head down toward the wall and his collar caught on the faucet attached to the water heater. He was panting and obviously frightened. I reached to loosen his collar. When I did, his head bobbed up, and he looked at me with such grateful eyes. He was so relieved! No telling how long he would have been there if Molly hadn’t sounded the alarm!
I turned to thank Molly, but she was busy checking out Tommy to make sure he was okay. Once she was certain he would be alright, she turned on her heels, dismissing me at the same time, and headed for the water bowl. You get thirsty when you have to bark a lot. Her job was done.
That’s the way it was with her. She knew everything that was going on, and I mean everything. She was a master teacher. I was the student. And yet we were equals working toward the same goals — balance, harmony, loving kindness to all.
“Notice what you notice,” she always said.
One of the many lessons I learned from Molly was to pay attention to the details and to be present. “Notice what you notice,” she always said. I noticed her photo when she was just a pup and the name “Molly,” came to me. She was a very direct communicator, even down to the seat she preferred on the sofa. If you were sitting in “her spot,” she would stand right in front of you and stare until you moved. Once you moved, she would hop up on the sofa and settle right in. She could assess any situation and know what to do. She showed me many details I would have missed. Molly’s teaching method was very Zen-like — straight and to the point with very little fluff. Sometimes it felt like a whack on the head with her, but I never walked away unclear!
If I had to zero in on one of her most beautiful qualities, it would be her loving heart. She practiced loving kindness and unconditional love every day of her life. If anyone was sick, Molly would faithfully stay by them. You just had this feeling she was always looking after us all. She had a mother’s radar and missed nothing. Over the years as the dogs in her group started to cross over, her presence became even more angelic, more specifically directed toward helping souls make their transitions. She remained a constant companion to each and every dog by walking them over the hill, making sure they came back in, and generally overseeing their well-being. One by one, Tommy, Max, Mikey, Alex, Frazier and Sally made their transitions. Molly stayed true to her purpose and waited for them all to ease out. It was only then that she felt her job was done.
Some of the best moments I spent with her came toward the end of her life. Her back legs became weak, which made her stride wobbly and slow. That didn’t stop her from meandering outside, and we spent many hours just hanging out — talking and sharing memories. It was during these times that she reminded me of the important things in life:
- Be present.
- Pay attention to details.
- Know who you really are and be authentic.
- Be aware of the whole — not just yourself.
- Practice loving kindness no matter what.
- Involve yourself in life — don’t just sit on the sidelines.
- Treat everyone like family.
- Don’t waste your gifts by not using them.
- Use them for good every day.
- Do as much good as you can while you’re here.
Molly always knew who she truly was and set out from the beginning to be the best she could be. She graced my life and anyone else privileged to cross her path. She knew she was here to make a difference and used all her gifts to help others — not just once or twice, but every day of her life. I know this much — I am a better person for having known her.
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