We weren't surprised at the sadness we felt after our sweet Lab, Molly, died in November. We expected to miss her deeply, but could not have predicted the over-whelming sense of loss that faced us each day. She had been there for each of us as we returned home from work, her tail wagging so hard that it could have knocked over a small table. She was my security blanket when Tom was gone; I didn't worry about intruders coming in without a warning. We missed her happy Lab smile and the "grin" she would display if she thought she was in trouble. I missed her when I took a nap on the loveseat in our bedroom. She would manage to curl all 130 pounds of herself behind my bent legs. And, of course, we missed her beautiful, amber coat, her soft ears, and her amber eyes fringed with curly blond eyelashes -- eyes that seemed to gaze into your soul.
But Molly was gone and the weeks passed, and as people do when there is a gap -- we started thinking about filling it. We had wonderful offers of beautiful dogs, but something kept telling us -- not yet.
Finally, after a time, Tom said that he really wanted another yellow Lab puppy. We both agreed that we would wait until late summer. We decided that we wanted a female and that we would name the dog in honor of Molly. She would be "Malone" -- from the Irish folksong, Molly Malone. I really think that what we both wanted was Molly.
Early and middle March was a transition time for my daughter and her family. They were moving from one part of the country to another and it was an opportunity for them to visit us. As we discussed their upcoming visit, Mary reminded me that she would have her two dogs with her and we agreed that they would be welcome. Tink and Booty were our houseguests during that time and we were impressed at how well they behaved and how much pleasure they brought to us. They both had plenty of love to give and won us over with their energy, playfulness, and good doggy manners. We felt our broken hearts beginning to mend.
This is a photo of "the girls" -- Tink and Booty in front and Colleen, Mary, Annie and Abby in back. Their Daddy (bless his heart) is the only male in the family. Tink and Booty don't get on the furniture unless invited.
Not long after Mary's family left, "Dear Abby" published a series of letters about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of older people getting puppies when there are so many older dogs, especially mixed breeds, who need homes. Tom and I talked seriously about our plans for a Lab puppy, how easily Tink and Booty had fit into our household, and how quickly we developed affection for them. Our minds, and hearts, were being changed.
We decided that we would be open to an older dog needing a home and that, if we weren't going to be set on a Lab, we would also be interested in a smaller dog. We hoped that the right dog would appear in late summer, after we returned from our vacation.
Tom's brother called last week, telling Tom that a dog had appeared in their neighborhood; he had been locked in an empty condo and left there. Mike and Kent were in possession of the dog and were trying to find his owner; they were listing him on Craigs List and putting picture posters around town. The little dog was in good condition; they had taken him to a vet, who said that he was about two years old and had been neutered. He was well behaved and house broken and was having the time of his life with their dog, CoCo. He had on a nice collar and someone had bathed him and (tried to) give him a trim before leaving him -- probably hoping that someone would find him and take him home. The question was: Did we want him?
By the time the phone conversation ended, they were both calling him "Malone" and he was responding to the name.
Tom came and told me about the dog and I responded with, "We agreed that we wanted a female and that we wanted to wait until after vacation." He asked me to keep an open mind and I said I would, but that we agreed that we wanted a female and that we wanted to wait until after vacation.
Later that day, after I had time to cool down and open my mind, I asked Tom if he wanted to go and see the dog. Which we did. Which we thought was adorable. And which we now have at our house (after waiting several days to see if his owner claimed him.) His name is Malone. He's not a Lab, he's not a female, and he's not (and never will be) Molly. But he's ours now and the first thing I told him is that he is at his home. He won't be left anywhere and he'll always know whose he is, where he belongs, and that we love him. That's the least we can do for a member of our family.