Saying Goodbye to the ‘World’s Best Dog’

Molly (left, above) with Guinness, Mike and Erica’s other dog and best friend. Molly was put to sleep a few days ago after an accident that was gradually paralyzing her.

My brother-in-law Mike and his wife Erica lost their beloved chocolate lab, Molly, a few days ago.  Mike posted this very moving essay on his Facebook page, and I had to share.  It is a beautiful tribute to how dogs fill the gap left by children who’ve grown up and moved away — as Mike puts it “with the added bonus of no back talk or allowance.”  He rightfully called her “The World’s Best Dog.” RIP, Molly.

This Saturday was the one of the most sad moments in recent memory for my family. Molly, our twelve year old Chocolate Labrador and loyal friend – broke her back a couple of weeks ago running like a puppy around the yard. She slipped, hyper extended her aging back and, well you get it. She seemed fine for several days and we never knew anything was wrong. Then she slowly started to lose her balance, had trouble walking and then eventually – no amount of money nor the greatest of veterinarians could prevent her from becoming paralyzed.

Molly was the dog I never wanted – we already had a friggin’ dog and I certainly didn’t want another one. I liked dogs, but they were just dogs, nothing more. Besides, they shed and they smell and they don’t have the courtesy of cleaning up after themselves. The nerve . .

But my 14 year old son wanted his own dog, so months of wife and family pressure gave way to a trip to the breeder to find a new friend for my son. He wanted a Labrador. He chose her, he named her, he was supposed to take care of her. Of course, it’s the story you often hear – grumpy man doesn’t want stupid dog, but once dog arrives and takes over the house and all the cars – the fabric of the home begins to change. And that’s what happened, this “dog” became an integral part of our lives – transitioning us from a two-kid household, to one where the kids have left home, graduated college and started careers. They never returned, but dog was still there – now “our dog”. And that’s what happens. The dog replaces the kids with the added bonus of no back talk nor allowance.

Molly went everywhere we went. Endless ski vacations, camping, trips to the beach, swimming, hiking, gardening (helping to uproot newly planted flowers), washing the car (stealing towels and other valuable tools). She accompanied both boys to their respective colleges, helping them settle into their dorms.

And in the blink of an eye, 12 years have passed, and this dog is so entrenched into your lives you cannot imagine waking up without those soulful eyes staring down at you. But the years do pass by, and in one of life’s cruel tricks, your dog has aged so much faster than you.

And so on Saturday morning two weeks after her injury and after agonizing for hours, we called a mobile Vet to come to our home to end her life in the place she most enjoyed, her own home in her own backyard. There was no way Molly was going to die in a clinic on cold stainless steel table. We led her out to the backyard and gave her one of her favorite treats, peanut butter stuffed inside a cow bone. She licked away blissfully on a beautiful sunny morning while lying down next to us as we held her. Fifteen minutes later, she was gone.

There is no greater loyalty in the world, no stronger bond then that between man and dog. Unless you’ve known the love and peace a dog can bring into your life, it’s hard to comprehend the anguish surrounding a decision that will end your dog’s life. “Dog people” will know what I’m talking about, others will roll their eyes. Regardless, no matter how humane the decision to peacefully release your friend from the confines of pain and suffering, you never escape the guilt of “but maybe I could have done more.”

I found this poem on the web any years ago. It moved me then, but now of course it has a very special meaning.

Sweet dreams Molly. Thank you for all the happiness you brought to so many lives.


If it should be that I grow weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle cannot be won.

You will be sad, I understand.
Don’t let your grief then stay your hand.
For this day, more than all the rest,
Your love for me must stand the test.

We’ve had so many happy years.
What is to come can hold no fears.
You’d not want me to suffer so;
The time has come — please let me go.

Take me where my need they’ll tend,
And please stay with me til the end.
Hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time that you will see
The kindness that you did for me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I’ve been saved.

Please do not grieve–it must be you
Who had this painful thing to do.
We’ve been so close, we two, these years;
Don’t let your heart hold back its tears.

22 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to the ‘World’s Best Dog’

  1. This has me in tears! A few years ago my 12 year old black lab died. Her baby, who is now 13, is nearing the end of her days, and my mom’s Golden Lab is 14, and in her final weeks of life. It’s crazy how much we love these gosh darned pesky animals that shed and smell bad and make life a million times better!!

  2. Add my tears to the parade of wet cheeks. My yellow lab is 10 and I know I’ll have her for just a few more years…arthritis in paws and wonky thyroid. She’s a rescue…and wasn’t even a dog when we “met”. She has a happy heart now…and will break mine when…

  3. What wonderful stories…real tributes to what pets add to our lives. Thanks for writing!

  4. Anyone who has an animal in their life understands how much unconditional love they bring to us. My family has always had dogs and cats and each and every one left a paw print on our hearts. Having to make the decision to put a beloved pet to sleep is always heart wrenching but we do it so the animal does not suffer.
    I know my husband John feels as I do and so do my daughters. The pets we have in our lives have taught us how to be kind and caring to our four legged friends. Bless them all and their owners to care so much!

    • I remember how much you loved “Boy,” your great old dog, and how much he loved you and Uncle John back. You are a terrific mom to all your four-legged friends (and to the many two-legged friends who love you.)

  5. We just had to make this terrible decision for our beloved old schnauzer, LuLu. It is a sad day and the grief will ease. But none of us would trade relief from this pain for a life without our dogs! K

  6. Thank you for posting this. We are about to get a dog and I recently wrote a blog post about the significant place I expect our pooch will occupy in our family as the kids grow up. Though this story was poignant, it reinforced my belief that pets (we are also cat people) solidify family relationships. I’m sad for your family’s loss, but happy for them that they had such a special companion.

    • I just read your blog post on the dog and loved it! We too are thinking of getting one. I’ve heard it’s like having a two-year-old all over again; has that been your experience?

  7. I am a cat person and I am crying so hard for you. It does not tak bonding with an animal to understand..just a feeling heart. God bless you!

  8. Less than a month ago we went through the same agony. The poem says it all. One dog can never replace another. They are all unique and worm their way into your heart in different ways. We have a new one now, but I sorely miss my Libby.

  9. We have always had chocolate labs so I completely related to the story and the photograph. I hope your brother-in-law and family will have the happy memories of Molly without the sadness of grief. On our blog I’ve written twice about the role that our dogs have played in our family. They have always been part of our lives and I hope they always will.

  10. What a beautiful post. I respect and applaud the decision to do what is right for Molly. It is a selfless and humane way to let an animal go, without the suffering and pain. Thank you for sharing and for posting the poem. I have a 6 year old pit mix. I know that this day will come…someday….and I hope that my husband and I can do what’s right at the time. Great post, great tribute to Molly. I hope she’s running and fetching to her heart’s content 🙂

  11. Beautiful tribute. Had me in tears as I think of my 17 year old cat and how much longer she may or may not have left. It was a lovely way to end her journey, in her backyard with her favorite treat. I wish my own dog had that same last pleasure. They are your best friends, your family, confidantes, and the one who will make you smile when you need it most.

  12. R.I.P., Molly. You were loved, that much is clear, and the world was better for having you.

  13. Pingback: It’s D-Day (for Dog) Today! « The Sandwich Lady

  14. So soulful, and so timely for me.

    We had to euthanize our 18 yo furry “daughter” Monday evening.

    We still have irreparably shattered hearts; but, your incredibly moving essay lets us know that we are not alone in grief.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Rick and Sheila Young.

    • Rick, glad it was of comfort to you and Sheila…as I point out in the intro, my brother in law Mike actually wrote this when his wonderful dog Molly passed away. I will pass your thoughts along to him. So sorry about your own loss. We have two dogs and love them so deeply that we can’t imagine being without them, although we know that time will come. Please give my love to Sheila, my cherished friend from PSU.

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