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Plenty of party planning

Musings from the Hill

The celebratory date is May 16 and, while I’m writing this at the end of March, that date ranks high on my list of things to look forward to.

She might prefer her birthday, which is May 1, and I’m not forgetting that for a moment. My calendar already has the appropriate stickers.

Turning fourteen for a golden retriever is a huge accomplishment, no doubt about it. For all the dogs I’ve loved, none has ever reached that milestone — or even come close. Still, it’s the date Molly came to live with me that I’ll mark.

It was a struggle to get her out of the stranger’s car (it’s still one of the hardest feats for her) but she came eager to explore (until I caught her). There was food (some), a set of tiny bowls in a rack and a decrepit “bed” which disappeared as soon as she seemed comfortable here. Rapidly we were left alone. I didn’t know then that steps would be a major hurtle. Yes, I had been told that Molly didn’t “do” steps but was assured two or three would be no problem. (Everybody has them, don’t they?) They were. They still are for her agility seems to vary with the day.

Never have I had a guest seem so completely at home so quickly. Two large Orvis pads were still where Henry had left them. Recognized for what they are, she walked over immediately and lay down. Molly was right at home — and equally so when she discovered the second in the bedroom.

Feeding has never been a problem. (She never saw that small set of bowls again.) She’s always voraciously hungry and, yes, I spoil her. We share the fruit at lunch and I have added a little canned food at dinnertime. I think she needs variety whether it’s true or not.

Molly arrived in a alarmingly roly-poly state. A strict diet had to be enforced: 1 cup dry in the morning, 1 cup dry at night. The instructions are on the cup that came with her food — and, mustn’t forget, she also has a lovely earthenware jar for “Molly’s Treats.” I keep that for a bedtime snack for she wasn’t always eager on going to bed when I was. It wasn’t too many months until she lost ten pounds and her doctor pronounced her fit. It’s been many months since she’s been on a scale and will be more before she is again so I can only guess — and hope I’m doing right by her.

Molly has learned to tolerate Gloria the cat. Frequently she rises (not too far) to bark her hoarse bark and might even lurch at the cat. Gloria knows it’ll go no further and ofttimes they’ll reconcile with a nose-to-nose (never sadly when I have a camera handy).

Those who might recall my earlier columns (don’t worry; you’re forgiven. There will not be a test.) might know she arrived with a series of health problems. Her face and body are covered with wart-like protuberances. Having lost too many goldens to cancer, I worry but they don’t seem to change. She has something wrong with her larynx which causes her to wheeze at times and her bark might sound like a youngster’s croup cough. It can’t hurt her much for she doesn’t hesitate to sound off when she has a reason. (I don’t have to understand.) She was described as arthritic and can be slow at times. I commiserate. Probably worst are two large bags of substance in her “armpits” that cause her legs to splay. Her good doctor advised major surgery, the “lamp shade” and a lengthy recovery . . . times two. Back then I accepted her as a short-term love and didn’t want to put an old dog through such misery. I have never regretted that decision. Her stance may be awkward but I see no indication it bothers her one iota. I don’t think it has gotten worse.

She’d like to accompany me on every trip I make in the car. Getting in isn’t bad but getting her out again is next to impossible. She’ll lie by the car if she believes I’m going out — or wait, just watching, from her doggy door. I definitely get a heartfelt greeting when I return.

She is such a sound sleeper that, were I to pet her then, she’d jump. She’s never gotten over that — or what I interpret as a suspicious need to stiff the treat in my hand before accepting it. I guess a little paranoia is within bounds.

Cake and ice cream (a LITTLE) then for the first. Perhaps we’ll share a steak on the 16th (you know 99-1%). I pray the guest of honor will attend while we’ll search for a new cause to celebrate.

Which, I wonder, is the greatest gift: to love or be loved.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. “Her Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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