Molly and Me

A spirited Golden Retriever shows what it means to have heart.


Molly was supposed to be one of those stocky, mellow, “conformation” Golden Retrievers. Instead, I got a wild, driven, field-bred Golden, as loving as she was difficult. I barely knew what to do.

We went to obedience class, where, instead of working for the treat, Molly tried to wrestle it from me. We then went to agility class, where she was extremely fast and crazy. After about two years, the instructor suggested we return to obedience class. When Molly was 5, we tried flyball. That was Molly’s nirvana. She was the perfect flyball dog; she picked up the sport quickly and was a solid team dog within a year.

Molly had a mast-cell tumor removed between tournaments when she was 6. Then, at the age of 8, she ruptured her left ACL. We did TPLO surgery [tibial plateau leveling osteotomy], which wasn’t an entire success. The bone seemed to take forever to heal. But after six months, we returned to agility where she picked up her second novice regular leg. Then it was back to flyball. Molly was so happy!

After all that, Molly’s right ACL gave out. She had another surgery – this time, at the age of 10. She recovered from that surgery quickly and was back to running flyball within three months.

Molly earned her FGD Ch. (Flyball Grand Champion) title in December 2008. The next week, I took her for a private agility lesson, and after marveling at her wildness, the trainer suggested methods for me to better manage her. We were planning to earn that last novice leg at the end of the month.

Then Molly began to show signs of illness. A trip to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center confirmed the absolute worst. Molly had a tumor on her heart; she had about three weeks to live. We made the most out of of those three weeks – lots of walks, visits with friends and extra snuggling. She left me 10 days shy of her 11th birthday.

As I look back on her last year, I am so glad Molly spent much of the summer swimming. She loved to swim so much. I will always remember her as my wild child, and know that her spirit lives on, in a lake, with a tennis ball.

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