Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On the occasion of Molly's 15th birthday

Old Molly just keeps on keeping on. She turns 105 today, if you buy the notion that one calendar year is seven dog years.

Just a few weeks ago, I thought she might not make it to this milestone. She suffered a major seizure, and had a hard time coming out of it. But come out of it she did, and bless her heart, she paces up and down "harr-ing" for her dinner every night starting about two hours before feeding time.

To a great extent, I owe the fact that I am a shepherd to this dog. I had sheep before her, but a retired meat cutter could count them on his remaining fingers, and I thought that I had all I could handle. Working them required so much effort that I couldn't imagine having more than six or eight of them. Molly opened doors for me that I didn't even know were there until she pointed them out.

You can put sheep into a pen without baiting them with grain and having two kids and a couple of neighbors running around like chickens with their heads cut off? Yeah, right!

You can walk sheep five miles through the woods, over narrow bridges, and along brushy powerlines? Cut it out!

One man can lamb out 300 ewes? Get out of town!

But with a good dog -- like Molly was in her day -- all these things are possible, and downright enjoyable.

What's hardest to believe is that this dog, my first working sheepdog, was able to show me these things. I didn't know how to get out of her way for a long time, and when I finally started to, she responded graciously -- as if she had known the answer all along but was just waiting for me to figure out the question and ask it. Not very many dogs would have stood for my incompetence and still been willing to give me so much.

It's been about three and a half years since Molly has been interested in working sheep. She's very stiff in the hindquarters, and there's something wrong with her proprioception that makes it even harder for her to walk. Stairs are a real challenge. She can't see well, can hardly hear, and since cold weather set in, she spends most of her time sacked out on the couch. Which is fine with me. She earned her rest. These are her pipe-and-slippers days, and as long as she's enjoying them, she will have them.

1 comment:

  1. Bless Molly's heart -- you did her proud with this. [I linked to your post.]

    I hope you'll give us an essay about the primaries.