It was the Spring of 2008. My wife and I had just moved into our new home the previous December. We had agreed that as soon as we had settled in and the time was right we would get a new addition to the family. Of course, I clearly told her that I would have nothing but another lab. My wife grew up around pets her entire life; this would be our first pet, so she was very excited. I got my first lab from a local “newspaper” breeder. She was a great dog, family member, and hunting companion. I had always had an issue with paying, what I considered to be a lot of money, for a highly breed puppy. Of course since my first lab was pure blooded chocolate lab (both mother and father were chocolates) and I had no problems with her, I thought nothing of getting my next lab from a local news source.
So the hunt began for our new puppy. I searched the papers daily for a few weeks until I found an advertisement for (2) pure blooded chocolate lab females. I loved the idea of having two, so I could at least have my pick of choice. We called the people with the ad, met them, and of course brought home the cutest loveable puppy.
We named her Molly. Molly was 7 weeks old when we brought her home. She was truly a perfect puppy. Very sweet, loving, easily trainable, ridiculously smart, non-destructive, and best of all not too hyper (which we all know how hyper some labs can be). We had her crate trained in what seemed like no time. It was the best time to have a new puppy. It was the start of spring, the days were now longer, and the weather was great. This would be the 2nd lab that I would get to train. As most of us duck hunters know and follow, I knew Water Dog and Gun Dog like the back of my hand. I had implemented many of the techniques in training my previous dog. Unfortunately, I had not followed the guide as well as I should have. This would not be the case with Molly. Before we even got her home I had set out in my head that Molly would be the best of the best.
For the first several weeks after we brought her home, I would come home from lunch just to play fetch with her. She absolutely was the most playful puppy and loved to fetch. Of course, just as planned with her training, she progressed with no flaws from one stage to the next. By 4 months old, I was sending her on line retrieves of close to 75 yards.
I would like to mention, that my wife and I had also discussed that we were ready for a human addition to the family as well. Just as you would expect, we found out we were having a little boy sometime in late May 2008. Life could not be any better; we had a happy family and now would be adding another member. I was over joyed to know that our little addition would be able to grow up with Molly. As we all have, I could play the scenes in my head of them chasing each other around the yard, going on our first dove hunt together, etc.
I have to admit; at times I thought my wife loved Molly more than me. She walked Molly every morning. My wife’s job allowed her to be more flexible than others. Molly was essentially her running buddy. During the day everywhere Mama went, Molly went (most of the time riding shotgun). The two of them bonded tremendously during the course of her pregnancy. All I could do was sit back and feel the blessings that surrounded me.
Through out the course of Molly’s life, we maintained her vet check ups, boosters, etc. There was no expense or anything with regard to her health that was overlooked.
Fall of 2008 came as quickly as the previous 6 months. It was now October, the time had changed back, days were now shorter, leaves were starting to fall, and temperatures were cooling. It was a typical beautiful fall in Tennessee. Sometime around early October Molly had started scratching quite a lot and started having some bald spots on her back. In addition, she had not been eating as normal as usual. Of course, we took her to our vet to have a look over. The findings of the visit were not the best. We found out that she had hereditary mange. Our vet said she probably inherited this from one of her parents. He indicated that we would probably have to keep her on medication for the remainder of her life and possibly have her dipped regularly. We thought of the long term consequences, but nothing would detour our love and willingness to do anything for our beloved Molly.
We had planned a trip to Asheville, NC several months before. This would be a good trip, actually last trip, to get away before the baby came in December. We loved Ashville, as this was the place that we had fallen in love with each other. So we booked a quaint little cabin in the woods, packed our things and headed for the mountains.
Although Molly was as obedient as any dog I had ever owned, she, as most dogs, followed their noses to where ever it led them. However, no matter how far she had gone, as soon as I called her she would come running. To make a long story short, there was apparently a large pile of trash (of some sort) somewhere in the woods surrounding our cabin. Unknown to me, until the middle of the night, did I know Molly had been rummaging through this trash at every opportunity.
As you would expect, she kept both of us up all night rushing to the back door to use the bathroom. Molly continually had diarrhea for the remainder of the trip. However, she never skipped a beat with regard to her demeanor. Other than the upset stomach, you would not have known anything was wrong.
We returned back from the trip the Monday before Halloween. This week now seems like a slow motion film and unfortunately is a vivid as any memory that I have of Molly. Starting that Monday, she ate very little. Her stomach problems continued and she was trying to go to the bathroom constantly. By Wednesday I was starting to get concerned so I rushed her to the vet. They performed all the necessary research procedures, but could not figure out what was wrong with her. We decided to schedule her for exploratory surgery the upcoming Monday. Still up to this point, I had a slight concern, but nothing major. I honestly thought that she had just picked up a parasite or something of the sort in the trash pile from the previous weekend. I assumed it would pass and everything would be OK.
That Friday night was Halloween. We had invited several friends over for the evening. We put Molly’s Halloween outfit on her (she was darth vader from Star Wars). That night I new something was terribly wrong. She was not at all her self. Her face was very sad and I could tell she was in pain. She just stayed in her kennel all evening. That night I let her sleep with us in our bed. Her stomach was making the worst sounds I had ever heard. I called the emergency vet to talk to them but there was really nothing we could do. They suggested to keeping a close eye on her that night and taking her to the vet first thing in the morning. I held her next to me all night, just hoping and praying that it was something that could be fixed.
The following day was my wife’s very first baby shower. All of our family was coming to town. I tried my best not to worry her as I did not want to upset her for this special day. I was at the front door of the vet at 7:30 when they opened up. The people there knew me quite well, as well as Molly. They all loved her to death because she was such a sweet puppy. I briefly met and talked with the vet and he told me we did not need to waste anymore time. He needed to proceed with the surgery to find out what was wrong.
He said he would start as soon as he closed @ noon. I gave Molly a big kiss and hug, told her I loved her, and headed home. I knew the minute that I left that something was wrong. I was terrified that this was the last time I would see her.
It was now nearing 12:45 and I was pacing the floor waiting on the phone call from the vet. I finally received the call around 12:50 and the news the vet had to share brought me to my knees. Molly’s digestinal track was destroyed. Her stomach, intestines, everything was balled up like a ball of yarn. He said the odds of her living were 20/80 and that’s if he could somehow take her apart and put her back together.
By this time, my wife stepped outside to tell me goodbye. She was just about to leave for the baby shower. I could not hide my sorrow any more. We both sobbed like never before and held each other. We rushed down to the vet to try and make sense of it all. Upon further discussion with the vet, we had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I asked the vet to bring her out one last time so I could we could see her and tell her good bye.
Molly was just over 8 months old when we lost her. Her intestinal deterioration was a result of a degenerative digestinal track, which per our veterinarian was a result of bad breeding.
Molly touched our lives possibly like no other dog, actually puppy, will ever do. We miss her greatly to this day. I hope that she is somewhere running and playing as happy as can be, being the precious puppy that we love and remember.
Thank You for sharing this story. I know you loved Molly with all you heart and I am so sorry that your family had to experience this disease. I know Molly gave you a lot in return the short time you had her. I won't ever get another Labrador from a backyard breeder. I did it twice and my Timber had some problems from that.