The way out here

She was a good dog

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 10/14/21

The way out here can often have the illusion of perpetual sunshine-filled days and one harvest after another. But just like everywhere else, the grey clouds roll through here as well, both literally …

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The way out here

She was a good dog

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The way out here can often have the illusion of perpetual sunshine-filled days and one harvest after another. But just like everywhere else, the grey clouds roll through here as well, both literally and metaphorically.

It was Monday, and I had been driving all day, making deliveries for the farm. It was a good day, to be honest, but the rain had been falling for most of the trip and was keeping a slight chill in my bones as I attempted to defrost in the heat of the vehicle between stops. The weather, although dreary, had not managed to dampen my mood, however, and as I neared home at the end of the day, the clouds began to part and the sunshine appeared as a consolation for the remainder of the day.

After work,  I picked up my son from the sitter and began the trip home.

This is about when I got the call. It was my mother and the cell service was spotty, but I managed to have a short conversation with her through the crackle. “We had to put Molly down today.” It echoed through the phone.

Apparently, she was on her way home from the vet, where she had been with my old black lab. Molly was my high school pup, introduced to me in the summer before I began my freshman year. I can still remember the day my dad unceremoniously pulled in the driveway and plopped the 10-pound, midnight-black puppy in front of me. She had been named already by the folks who initially raised her, but the name was perfect anyway; Molly quickly became the name of my best friend. We ran around the yard together and she accompanied me wherever I went.

One time she wandered a bit too far and was picked up by strangers, only to be returned later through a crazy story all its own. She went in my boat and rode in my truck. She was as much in love with my high school girlfriend as I was and eventually walked down the aisle between us carrying the rings that would unite us in marriage.

When I would leave for college, she would sleep in my room and whine for days. When I came home she would lick me and constantly attempt to sleep in the bed with me. She was not my first hunting dog, but she flushed birds for my first-ever solo chukar hunt, often more thrilled to be out for a run than she was focused on hunting.

She was a lover of people and I dare say a poor guard dog because of it, but she had a heart bigger than most people I know. There’s a saying that all dogs go to heaven. I don’t quite know if that’s true, but if it were, then she’d be right there at the front of the line.

When my mom called, I didn’t feel anything right away. It must not have really sunk in. But as I search for a picture to use and gather my thoughts, remembering all the things I’d been through with Molly, the thought of her no longer being there to meet me when I pull into mom’s house has me struggling to see my keyboard clearly.

The way out here, dogs are an amazing part of life. We use them for hunting, we use them for security, and we use them for company. I often think about something my late grandmother told me, to put it in perspective. To a human, we have a dog for maybe 15 years or so, give or take, depending on the dog and circumstances. They are a part of our lives and although significant, they are with us for a brief time regardless. To a dog, we are their whole lives. They work for us and love us and give us as much if not more than we give them.

As a horse trainer, my grandmother always liked to think of things from an animal’s perspective. Molly shared some of the most formative years of my youth. High school, college, my first job or two, my marriage, and even the birth of my first-born son. Fifteen short and fast-lived years to me, but a full and eventful life to her.

The way out here is full of adventures, many of which we share most personally with our four-legged companions. The bitter truth about years of good memories is that they will always end in a goodbye. I could say many wonderful things about my dog, Molly. I will always have a few regrets as well. The summation of her legacy will be forever sculpted in my heart as simply this: She was a good dog.

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