Our Little House Is Emptier, But Not Empty



I wrote last week that our lives had been exceptionally crazy over the previous 10 days.

On Saturday, we had to say goodbye to our little red wiener dog, Molly. Through the power of modern science and lots of love, we helped her over the past two years through a heart ailment. Her vet gave her 6 months in July 2011, and she defied all of their dire predictions.

Until about 2 weeks ago, she maintained a good quality of life. Like many dachshunds, Molly had a seemingly insatiable appetite. We always knew when she wouldn’t eat there would be something terribly wrong.

As treatment after treatment proved ineffective the last week, we knew we could not ask her to fight any longer.

Molly’s journey with us began when Dale’s aunt called and asked me to take a dachshund that belonged to a friend of theirs. She was concerned; these people had gotten Molly as an impulse purchase, and after they decided she wasn’t what they wanted, they confined her to a 4 foot run in their backyard where she bred at will with a much larger dog.

I wrote about my experience with that owner recently for Pet360.

When Molly joined our family, she was also fearful, especially of thunderstorms and men, including Dale. But thanks to his natural loving disposition and lots of patience, he eventually helped bring out hers, too.

Molly loved to give kissies (licks), chew on rawhides and solve the riddle of Kong toys or roll her kibble ball around the party deck and retrieve the treats. Her favorite pastime, aside from kissing, was eating.

She also enjoyed barking at the large predatory birds that fly over Our Little House. We could be on the deck or in the car and yell, “Bird!” and she would jump in the air barking. Sometimes she saw them even before we could.

When she couldn’t walk the road with the other dogs anymore, she liked being treated like the queen she was, taking rides in her stroller.

As with any animal loving family, I suppose, our long marriage is marked by the pets who accompanied that decade and represent eras in our lives.

My Maltese Angel, Ana and Tuffi, given to me by Dale as high school graduation gift, represent the beginning of our adult lives. Hershey, who was our first rescue and only dog child after the Maltese, was with us during a fun and carefree time when we spent a lot of time boating and camping.

Kerri with Dakota, Molly and Emma, KC cir. 2005

I will always associate Emma with the years we had our horses, as she not only loved going to the barn with me everyday, she once saved my life from a charging mare.

In addition to being that one last connection we had to that favorite aunt, who died in 2007, Molly represents the beginning of our lives at Our Little House.

She joined our family as our third rescue in 2003, two months before we began construction. She rode with us on countless trips down here from Kansas City, content in the backseat with her sister, Emma, and a rawhide.

Almost to the very end, she always looked to see if there was a rawhide waiting for her in the backseat of the truck, even though our weekend trips ended six years ago.

She was part of our pack of three until Sade joined us when we moved full time to Our Little House, and eventually she was the senior member of the 6-pack.

Typical of dachshunds, she was the sweetest dog on the planet, yet bossy when she wanted something. She could boss Emma out of a rawhide, make Dakota move from her spot on the couch and tell us about it when she wanted a cracker or her water bowl was empty.

Since Saturday, all of us, including the dogs, have been trying to adjust without this larger than life personality in our small space.

Each dog has taken on different behavioral issues as the pack adjusts.

Of course, it has been hard on Dale and I as well. No matter how many times we go through this, it never gets easier. Dale spent quite a bit of time the first four years lying on the floor near the sofa, couch skirt held up, peering into the dark space underneath where Molly would hide when he came home, coaxing her to come to him.

When she finally decided he was ok, about the time we moved here full time, they were best buds (it helped he gave her anything her heart desired).

The 6-pack is now the Fearless Five.

They’re helping us through our grief and reminding us that Our Little House is emptier, but is not empty, and so are all of our hearts.

What are your favorite memories of a furkid?

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26 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Argh Dale and Kerri, that was so hard for me to read and I’m so deeply sorry for your loss of Molly. Sending all of you prayers. Here’s a story of mine you might like as far as empathizing the depth of a human and a dog.


    • Kerri says:

      Oh, Mike, that was a lovely story. My mother was also afraid of large dogs. We had a shepherd/collie mix as a child, but then we had only small dogs after Smokey. When we rescued our Emma, who could look pretty scary, my mom was wary only for a second. Those two bonded like nothing I’ve ever seen. Our furry kids are so special, aren’t they?

  2. Donna says:

    I’m so sorry about your sweet Molly…it’s never easy losing a four-legged friend…but it sure sounds like Molly had a wonderful life with you.

  3. Susan says:

    What is it about those brown eyes that seem to go right to your heart? Do you have little memorial spots in your garden for your departed pets? I have little engraved rock markers for mine.

    • Kerri says:

      Two of our dogs, Molly and Hershey are buried in our yard here, as is our two cats, Cali and Tabitha, who both died within days of our move here. I’m waiting on memorial stones I ordered last week for all.

  4. Susan says:

    I have always loved doxies. I grew up with a doxie-beagle mix. She ran the house. What a character! She had to be put down when I was in college, as she was in poor health towards the end. My Mom got a mini doxie 7 years ago that is just as opinionated. Loveable too.

    My other love is parrots. Rescued ones. I have an African Grey that I got as a rescue and had her for 21 years. My other Blue Headed Pionus died at 11 years. Both short lives as parrots can live much longer, but I loved the the beauty and companionship they gave to me and my family.

    We love our animals!

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, Susan, our Dakota is a Doxie/Beagle mix. She is a character, the best of both breeds! I didn’t even know bird rescues existed until I did a story on one once.

  5. Amy says:

    So sorry to hear of Molly’s passing. So hard 🙁

  6. Fran McLean says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. As hard as it is, always remember that you gave her the best 10 years of her life. She was blessed to be rescued by you and Dale. I have three babies of my own. Two chihuahuas and a Doxie/chi mix. They are a huge part of me. I have had to let two of my babies go in the past and I know when it comes to these three, it will be so very hard. But I wouldn’t trade this time with them for anything. Here is a big HUg from one fur mama to another. I also posted on your Facebook page. I just wanted to make sure you know how sorry I am. Fly free over the rainbow bridge little Molly.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, Fran, thank you so much for taking the time to come here and post, too. I told another friend of mine that you do all you can do as a pet parent when you treasure every moment of time that goes by way too fast. Hugs back to you, fur mama.

  7. Carol says:

    My thoughts are with you. It is hard to lose our best friends but you know she had the best life with you that could be had. RIP Dear Molly.

    I had a rescue Great Dane who came to me with the respiratory part of distemper. I laid on the floor with him him for weeks hand feeding him. He was the dog of my heart. We lost him at 12 years old, extremely old for a Great Dane, but he was my constant shadow and gave me hours of love and adventure.

    Our dogs are never forgotten, always remembered with love.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, my, that is old for a Great Dane. What a loving family he found, I’m so glad you adopted him. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  8. Pamela says:

    I’m so sorry you’ve lost your precious girl. No, it never gets easier.

    And yet the joy of living with dogs is so great that it’s worth the suffering of losing them too soon. At least it is to me. And it sounds like to you.

    I also blog about dogs at Something Wagging This Way Comes. And although it’s been nearly 4 years since I lost my lovely hound mix Shadow, she still graces the header of my blog. I’ll be redesigning Something Wagging to give the place of honor to my current dog, Honey. But I still feel a bit sad at not seeing Shadow at the top of my blog every day.

    Peace to you and your entire family as adjust to life without Molly.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, yes, we do, Pamela. Just after Molly passed, i told Dale I didn’t know if I could go through this 5 ore times. The pain in the heart is one of the worst. But we will. Sometimes I think we must be some type of masochists to put ourselves through this, knowing full well how it will end in too short of time. But then we feel all of the joy and love they bring us during those short years and it is all worth it. Thanks for telling me about your blog. I will check it out. I know it will seem strange taking your Shadow from the header, but Shadow will never leave your heart. Hugs.

  9. Cindyt says:

    Sending Hugs and Kisses to you, Dale and the fearless five! RIP Molly I know you were Loved well. Pekingese dogs have always been in my life and are always associated with different decades and times in my life as well. The first lived well past 20 years old and was a terrific little Lady. The next two were boys and brothers from different litters and different fathers…their mother got around :). They were so very special and helped me through broken hearts, lost loves and other illnesses. And now the twins…boys still full of mischief after 13 years as they usher me into the retirement years. Love You and thank you for sharing your life’s ups and downs. Cindyt

    • Kerri says:

      Aw, thank you, Cindy, we love you, too! My dream has always been to have a dog live to 20, and still have a good quality of life. Lucky you! The farthest we made it was 16. Molly, unfortunately, was the one who had the shortest life, about 12. We take the years we get and always hope and want more. 🙂 Hugs to you as well.

  10. Jodi Helmer says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Your Molly sounds just like my Molly, an eight-year-old black and tan doxie. Reading about her love of rawhides and enthusiastic pursuit of birds (for my Molly it’s squirrels) tugged at my heartstrings. They are never with us for as long as we’d like. Molly was so lucky to have spent her final years in a loving home. You’re in my thoughts.

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Jodi. Our first dachshund, which was also our first rescue, was a black and tan named Hershey. She’s still so much in my heart and now Molly is buried beside her. Hugs to you and your Molly.

  11. I am so sorry that you had to say goodbye to your sweet Molly. She was a special dog, small in stature but big in heart. How wonderful that you rescued her from heartless people who tossed her into a dog run and left her defenseless against bigger dogs. She must have thought she’d gone to heaven when you rescued her.

    We had a black lab mix when our girls were growing up, technically he belonged to the youngest daughter, but dogs of course become a member of the family. This amazing dog protected our girls on walks through the neighborhood and was a favorite with everybody who lived around us. They all knew and loved “Licky” short for “Licorice.”

    In 2000, my husband and I purchased land in the country. It was wild and beautiful but had no house or cabin, so we camped in a tent on our visits there. We usually brought Licky with us on our trips.

    David and I would often start off on walks together, with the dog at our side, exploring all of the glades and forests and prairies of our new property. But sometimes, I would grow tired of walking before David, and would turn back to the campground. Though there were many times I tried to get Licky to stay with David, he ALWAYS followed me back to camp. In fact, there were times I would tell him sternly to “stay” with David and then turn to leave. But, invariably, after walking only a few yards, I would turn around to see if he was following, and of course, he was always there, and always looked sheepish when he was discovered violating the command to stay.

    On one of those occasions, when we hadn’t had the property very long and I was not completely sure of how to get back to camp, I became disoriented and completely confused about which direction our campsite was. (I am notoriously direction-challenged.) Of course, Licky as always, had followed me and sat waiting as I looked in each direction trying to figure out which way to go. I started feeling a little panicked as I realized I was actually really lost. The dog picked up on my sense of fear and panic, and looked at me expectantly, waiting for the command to start off again.

    He seemed eager to leap back onto the trail, wagging his tail as if he was just waiting for me to give him the signal to go. I looked at him and out of desperation said, “Licky! Take us home!” He was off like a shot, with me scrambling to keep up. Sure enough, he led us right to our campsite. I hugged him and gave him a treat, and I never tried to force him to stay with David again. He seemed to know that I needed his protection, and would not let me walk off alone. I loved that dog so much. Still brings tears to my eyes when I think of what a strong character he had, the truest heart of any creature I have ever known.

    May your dear Molly rest in peace, and may you take comfort in knowing you gave her a full life, full of love and comfort and security.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, that is such a special story about Licky. Just goes to show that even when they’re gone, we never forget their loving nature and loyalty. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Kimberly Deur says:

    A very special story. Doxies have been a huge part of the yrs. of my life. There have been others, a couple of Dobermans, a Min. Pin., a couple of Aussies, Boxers, now Chihuahuas. Most were purebreds, now there are two rescues. All came with their challenges and all held a very special place in my heart and family. Loss of these special children is never any easier…and we move on, but we never forget. 😀