To Molly

Diana and I talked about you for weeks. We pretended like maybe she wouldn’t bring you home on my birthday but it was a foregone conclusion. I wanted a Corgi for the same reason so many guys in my age group had probably come to love them — because of Ein from Cowboy Bebop. That night you hid under the futon. You stomped around our little house and barked. You jumped into my arms and we were ride or die from then on.

A corgi puppy lays down with her head on a garden hose
Small times, big eyes

You were a great puppy and learned so much so fast, including how to terrorize the cats and how to flompf over onto my feet and look up at me with your ridiculous caring eyes when I was upset or feeling sick. You defended the back yard with vigor from an early age and could shout insults at every other dog in the neighborhood at a college level by age 2. You were a superstar in your obedience classes and you always took care of Brutus, who was the other man in your life even though he was a Pomeranian.

A mature Pomeranian and a baby Corgi on a lawn chair
That little old man told a lot of stories, huh?

You only got sick a few times and you were terrible at letting us know. Apparently you were sick for years — some kind of lesion or tumor pressing on your brain, giving you an insatiable appetite and turning you into a trash can scoundrel. The first big illness happened not too long after Harper was born and a confusing mess of symptoms turned out to be diabetes. I’d always been terrified of needles and yet I learned, along with Diana, to give you two shots a day, every day, for the rest of your life. The first shot I’d ever given was to my mom when she was having treatment for terminal cancer. You were the second.

You went blind after that, which was a crime. But it never stopped you from cocking your silly dog eyebrow at me or still giving me those same caring eyes when I was feeling down. Harper loved you to pieces but I think her size or relative closeness scared you — you would give her endless kisses when you’d come across her in the tiny-baby-carseat, and she would laugh her baby laugh, and you would corgi-talk back. It broke me up sometimes to have a reproducible moment like that in my life.

But the more she walked the less you could see, and you had less chill about pretty much everything as time went on. She thought you didn’t like her and took it as personally as a 3- or 4-year old can. I didn’t understand quite what was going on, but I knew you’d let her hug you if we went for a walk, so we did more of that and you both seemed happy enough.

A Corgi on a leash with a young girl, both are sitting on grass
Harper and Molly

Maybe that was the tumor, too. You got a little grumpy over the years, and I wasn’t ever sure if that was because Brutus died, or the diabetes, or a combination. I know you learned to love Lilu, who took care of you as faithfully and happily as you cared for Brutus. It must be a herding dog thing.

You would do it for her, too. Incredibly, even though you couldn’t see, you would still raise hell if Lilu didn’t feel well and berserker around the hallway, barking at all hours of the night. It was usually something small, that she needed to go outside and throw up grass, but that didn’t matter to you. You would even get agitated when Harper was sick, even if you didn’t want her to ride you around the living room. You took care of your family.

I am sorry that I couldn’t say this stuff to you tonight in person but I am a thousand miles away and the tumor in your brain finally announced itself by sending you into a cluster of seizures from which you wouldn’t recover. By the time I talked with Dr. Wuensche about what could be done, you were already knocked out, and we decided that we shouldn’t wake you up. You almost died earlier this year and I sort of said goodbye, just in case, but you lived. I’m glad you did because it meant we got to pin a coda at the end of what turned out to be your third act.

Since that happened, I let you up on the couch more and cared a little less about getting your hair all over the place. We hugged and walked and you passed out on me and snored your adorable dog snores more than once. I’m glad I got to spend the whole summer with you asleep at my feet while I worked. I’m glad you got a bath this week, and a haircut, because that always made you happy. I’m glad that you weren’t alone at the end.

If you weren’t being boarded with Dr. Wuensche, you probably would have been alone, so I’m glad he was with you. Or you would have died in front of Lilu, so I am grateful that didn’t happen. I think you would be too, because when she worried you worried. I am sorry I was not there for you tonight, even if you wouldn’t have known the difference.

Diana and I talked about what to do, and we cried. We’re in Florida. It feels ridiculous to cry in Florida, but we did. She gave you to me for my 29th birthday, and that seems like forever ago instead of seven and a half years, and you are without a doubt the best gift I’ve ever received. You made me so happy.

The last time you got sick I thought that losing you would cure me off dogs for good, but now I don’t think that’s true. I’m crying in Florida again but it is because you are leaving and it was so nice to be with you that I want to do it again someday, even if it has to be with another dog. I think that losing an animal only hurts because it is so good for so long until it isn’t, and then the pain doesn’t last. The good outweighs the bad by so much. Having a dog is a rational act. It must be.

Brutus liked to dress up so we got you in on that act before your first birthday. We dressed him like a jack o’lantern for Barktoberfest and I’d taken to calling you Mollybug for some reason, so Diana found you a ladybug costume. We went to the park and had a nice day and the most true thing about you is that since you and I got together, I put together a pretty big pile of nice days. I love you and I will miss you and I guess I wanted to write this because I couldn’t say it directly to you, but I think all of this is what I meant when I would say “Mollybug.”

So: Mollybug. I’m gonna take you with me to the next dog, but not for a little while, okay? Thank you for being a good girl and sharing so many nice days with me. We will take good care of Lilu. Good night.

Josh Berthume

Josh Berthume

Josh is a simple tyrannosaur.
Denton, TX