In Remembrance of My Golden Retriever Molly, 1996-2010

by John Soares on August 7, 2010

My sweet dog Molly passed away recently at the age of 14 after a brief decline. I really miss her.

Molly's sweet smile.

Molly's sweet smile.

Molly was born on the north shore of Kauai in 1996 and spent her first two years there. I taught her to swim in the Kilauea River, and she quickly graduated to fetching sticks in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, one of her favorite things to do.

Molly loved to chew on sticks at the beach.

Molly loved to chew on sticks at the beach.

Molly was very attached to my other golden retriever Hana, who was a few months older. They were constant companions and would explore the world together and spend hours wrestling and play fighting. After Hana died in 2004, Molly never wrestled with another dog.

Hana and Molly at Point St. George in Crescent City.

Hana and Molly at Point St. George in Crescent City.

Hana and Molly at Klamath Beach near the mouth of the Klamath River.

Hana and Molly at Klamath Beach near the mouth of the Klamath River.

Molly loved the water and would take herself swimming in any stream or lake, or the ocean. Once on Kauai I camped at Polihale beach on the west side with the two dogs. I left them on the beach and went swimming in five-foot waves. Brave Molly followed me out and was swimming just beyond the surf zone. Suddenly a larger wave appeared and broke on top of us. I dove down to avoid it, but Molly was right on top of me, so I pushed her away. I popped up and looked for her, but couldn’t see her anywhere. Then I saw the wave reaching the shore, and there was Molly trotting up the beach. She had surfed the full length of the wave, aided by my push.

Molly especially loved being outside and was a great hiking companion for my many outdoor explorations in northern California and the western United States. She was always game for even the most difficult cross-country explorations.

Molly ready for anything.

Molly ready for anything.

What I Loved Most About Molly

  • She was loyal, devoted, and obedient.
  • She was always up for a walk.
  • She was always so happy to see me.
  • She loved to have her head rubbed.

Molly, thanks so much for all the love and companionship we shared. Stephanie and I will always remember you.

John and Molly take a snooze.

John and Molly take a snooze.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

ThomG August 7, 2010 at 9:08 am

John, so sorry for your loss. I know exactly what you’re going through, as I lost my 14-year-old Aussie shepherd/chow cross Scully in June. Dogs are more than companions, they’re friends who know all of your most intimate thoughts and secrets – and never ask for anything in return but a scratch on the head and a hike once and again.

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Thom, I know you love dogs and hiking with dogs — you wrote an excellent book about it.

Dogs are so good at giving unconditional love.

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Kathy Lancaster August 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

John – What a beautiful tribute to your beloved Molly. It is so hard for me to imagine you without her – you have had Molly and Hana (and then just Molly) since I met you! My thanks to you and Molly for the many wonderful hikes and swims Bodhi and I shared with you. As I write this I can hear your voice saying “you’re a great dog, Molly”, and she truly was. She will be deeply missed by all who loved her. With much love from your friend Kathy (and – of course – Bodhi!)

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Kathy, next to Stephanie you were the most important “mom” for Molly. She loved being around you, and she loved hanging out with your Bodhi. Give him a good scratch behind the ears and a big kiss from me.

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Danielle August 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I feel very fortunate to have been Molly’s next door neighbor for 2 years. Always a joy to come home & share love & affection with her. Such a gem she was ! Thanks for sharing all the great photos. May your heart be held in her loving presence that in some unknowable way I imagine will always be with you. much love, Danielle

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Molly loved being your neighbor, and I know well the feeling of coming home and seeing her run up with a stick or leaf in her mouth. She had you and everyone else to be with, and she got to explore the neighborhood.

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kirby August 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm

So sorry to hear this, Uncle John. She was always a sweet doggy… I will remember her fondly.

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Thanks Kirby. I watched Molly grow old while watching you grow up to become a remarkable young woman.

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Rebecca August 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

What a sweet face your Molly had. There is nothing better than a best doggy friend. I’m sorry she’s gone. 🙁

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Rebecca.

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Stephanie Hoffman August 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

John,

Thank you for sharing Molly with me for the last four years. Your tribute to her was very touching and loving. Even though she had slowed way down in her later years, Molly still had the heart of a lion and the will of a tiger. I will always remember her sweetness and complete devotion to you.

Long live Molly and her spirit!

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Thanks Sweetie. You were such a loving mom to Molly. I know she really loved you and appreciated all you did for her.

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Gambolin' Man August 8, 2010 at 9:50 am

John,

It hurts, I know. Dogs are truly our best and favorite companions. Funny, I think I’ve grieved over my departed animals throughout my life more than I have over my departed friends – can’t explain that one! (Close family members, with the exception of my father, who died estranged in 1985, are still living.)

I hope you have a moment to my “O-bitch-uary” to Osa, beloved companion who died a few years ago. Tom

Osa, part red cattle dog, part chow mix, whose pedigree can be traced to Australia’s wild dingo, has died at age 17, after a long battle with canine epilepsy, strokes, and worn-out hip joints. She fell short of the record for red cattle dog longevity by ten years. Her long-time companions, Tom and Mary, were by her side when she passed, without a struggle or a whimper, into the other realm. Her time had come, she knew it, and her egress from this earthly realm was gracefully crafted and compassionately executed.
 
Osa’s younger days were not the best years of her life. She came into this world a fearful little thing, scrambling behind our friend’s stove at age six weeks in abject terror when the vacuum cleaner came out. Every little noise scared her to death. She remained skittish most of her life. Our friends, the former owners, kept her outside, locked in a small pen with a large German Shepherd, big Bear, who brutalized and bullied her (playfully, our friends always said). But Osa never complained or whined. She seemed stoic, calm, resigned to her fate. Her wild nature seemed suppressed.
 
Mary and I were her salvation and rescuers by taking her (and Bear) on frequent, long and exhausting runs in Redwood Park. Bear, oafish and stupidly loyal, remained at our side while mischievous little Osa would tear off and disappear, chasing a deer down some steep gully, only to reappear later right at our sides a mile up the trail and with, seemingly, a big grin on her face. We never worried about her. More than once, she got us into trouble on hikes in grazing territory, with protective cows, letting her herding instincts rule as she rounded ‘em up much to our chagrin. When we had to return her to her pen, you could see it in her face, her body language: please, she would psychically beg, don’t leave me here!
 
Eventually, her owners divorced and could no longer keep Osa, so we agreed to take her, six years ago, when she was 12. We thought she was an “old girl” then, but she showed us she still had lots of spunk left. And, certainly, we added years to her life, and life to her years, when she became our own little “Miss Goody”.  We gave her the best life and basically spoiled her with constant love, tasty treats, access to our living quarters after she insisted, by banging on the front door, to let her in, delightful but rugged camping trips that took a lot out of her (too much in retrospect), daily walks, and those dog-awful bathes she loved/hated. But Osa was more catlike in her aloofness, in her wild streak—she never licked much, or engaged in outward affection. She loved the little things: a bite of Mary’s cheese, a swim in Lake Anza, rolling on her back on the neighbor’s lawn, eating cat turds (BAD GIRL!), holding her own with dignity and aplomb in a territorial squabble with bigger dogs on the sidewalk.
 
Osa, we always said, was “in the know”. She had a quiet wisdom about her. Can this be said of dogs? I believe so, I believe that the dog has Buddha nature. . .Osa came into our lives as, yes, a companion animal, but also as a teacher who taught us to aspire to her dog-god nature. Her unsung virtues—no strings attached love, patience, perseverance, acceptance, comfort—sustain us as fundamentals life lessons she imparted.
Over the past year, Osa’s decline was painful to witness. I was probably in denial that she was suffering so much. Many would have put her to sleep months ago. Her hips started to give out, and she suffered a debilitating series of strokes that precipitated hearing loss and doggie Alzheimer’s. The epileptic fits then came on sporadically and wore her down. She was such a trooper, though, never giving up, never wanting to let go, always wanting our love, until the final moment she closed her eyes and drifted off into eternal sleep.
 
We took our beloved Osa on a final drive (she loved getting in the car so much, the thrill and anticipation of the drive—it meant one thing: the WOODS!), to lay her to rest off Pinehurst Road down a steep gully under a large Madrone (Mother) tree, with birds singing, the sun shining, the hills looming large beyond, her collar hung from a branch, forever part of the woods she so loved to roam with us.
 
Bye, Osa! We love you and will miss you very much!

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Osa was a great dog. Thanks for sharing your story.

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Gambolin' Man August 9, 2010 at 7:39 am

I have frequent dreams of little Osa – not so many of past dog amigos, though, from twenty years or more ago.

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Donna Thompson August 8, 2010 at 9:58 am

Hi John,
Thanks for sharing your memorial for Molly in this way. Glad Ron and I got to know Molly for a little bit, too. She’ll live on in many memories. Donna

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Thanks Donna! Molly (and Hana) had some really good walks with you and Ron and Tomo.

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allen maxfield August 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

I feel for your loss. I could not live without a canine friend. I will lose mine soon after 15 years. I would like to suggest a book that will help you smile again as you remember your adventures with Molly.

“Merle’s Door”
Anyone who has a bestfrienddog, will love this book.

Stay well,
allen in Mt. Shasta

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John Soares August 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Allen, thanks for the book suggestion, and I know what you’re going through with your old-timer.

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Derek (100 Peaks) August 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I still have occasional dreams of my dog, who passed on over 20 years ago. They can be great friends.

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John Soares August 9, 2010 at 6:46 am

I’ve been dreaming about Molly about every other night. She’s always fine and healthy, and we’re just doing normal stuff.

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Micaila August 9, 2010 at 10:37 am

What a wonderful way to honor your sweet canine companion! Molly was a very cute and photogenic dog. I’m sure you’ll treasure her photos and the memories you’ve made of playtimes and cuddles for a lifetime. I still regularly think of my childhood dog, Max. I miss him! Furry friends offers us a great observation on love and dedication. I’m sorry for your loss.

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Sammi August 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Hi John,

I have been following your blog for awhile and I am sorry for your loss. Molly definitely looked happy and content with life! I lost my golden “Heidi” (14 yrs) last year. She was my adventure companion and gladly would go anywhere with me. I still miss her and think of her daily! Hold onto the memories and remember she will still be by your side on the trail with you!

Sammi

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marc soares August 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

Wow, John, a very moving, touching tribute to Molly. I sure had some good times with Molly. The tribute was the right thing to do.

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Megan Kopp August 11, 2010 at 1:38 pm

They’re always up for a hike, they never complain about the weather, they don’t quibble about what’s on the lunch menu, and they never ask how much farther it is! It took us more than two years to begin looking for another dog after Buddy left us, and even then we doubted we’d ever find another hiking companion of his calibre. Then along came Taylor. Safe to say she’s got as big a hold on our hearts as Buddy did. So John, here’s my little bit of dog-lover wisdom: It’s important to say goodbye; but it’s just as important to say hello!

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casey August 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

Loved your tribute to your dog, Molly. My best friend is an 8year old mix named Bella and as the grey hairs make their appearence on her muzzle, I try very hard not to think about that the end is coming for her soon. She’s my everything and the best backpacking partner a man could want. So sorry for your loss, I dread the day when I’m in your position.

casey craig and bella

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Kristi August 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I’m sorry for your loss… Molly was absolutely beautiful and I’m sure a wonderful companion who enjoyed every bit of her life with you and the adventures you shared with her.

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John Soares August 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm

My heart-felt thanks to all of you for your kind words. I really appreciate them!

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TC/Trout Underground August 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Damn. Molly was one of the coolest dogs I’ve known; I remember running into her (and you, though she was cuter) on my walks with Wally.

Wise one, that Molly.

Pooches are always game for anything, and there is a large void when they go.

Sorry for your loss,
TC

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John Soares August 31, 2010 at 6:53 am

Tom, you and Wally usually saw Molly and me on the blacktop at Sisson Elementary. I’d be doing tai chi and Molly would be exploring the surroundings and saying hello to cool people like you and even cooler dogs like Wally.

Thanks for your kind words and thoughts.

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jody September 29, 2010 at 8:43 pm

well that sucks. not much more I can say. It just sucks.

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John Soares September 30, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Thanks Jody. I know how you feel…

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Gunilla September 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Sorry to hear that Molly is gone. Still remember you, Molly and Hana like it was yesterday. Can not really picture you without them. I guess they will always be with you in your mind..

Hugs from me
Gunilla

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John Soares September 30, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Gunilla, thank you for your kind words. You spent a lot of time with Molly and Hana and I know they really liked you. I remember you wanted to take Hana back to Sweden with you!

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Jeff Bakiares February 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Hi John,

What a great story, and I am very sorry for your loss. I lost my Molly, a 14 year old Golden two weeks ago, very quickly, something that I am grateful for, since she did not suffer.

I, like you, had my dog as my constant companion here in Chicago. We were a daily item walking 3 to 5 miles a day and became a neighborhood icon among merchants, kids, and anyone who enjoyed the delightful demeanor of a Golden.

The loss of this dog has profoundly affected me and the deep pain of the loss is very overwhelming. I understand how you feel and I love your tribute to your Molly, she sounds like she was a great dog.

Thank you for sharing and I wish you well in your future adventures. Our lives have been touched by special animal companions that we will never forget.

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John Soares February 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Jeff, thank you so much for your very touching words and for sharing how much your golden Molly meant to you. I can just imagine you walking her and all the smiles she would bring to everyone who saw her.

Losing a beloved dog can be very painful. I know it was for me. It took over two weeks before I could write this tribute post and go through all the pictures of her. Even then I was teary eyed as I wrote.

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GoGo LaTata June 2, 2011 at 11:51 am

I found this post whilst looking at your pet-sit site, and I hope that by writing, it will bring back some great memories for you and Chuckie!
I just want to say that Molly(s) [and Hana and Osa – I READ the comments] was/were (a) beautiful dog[s] and I’m sorry I ne’er met her or them. (Gosh, I’d hate to be an editor right now). Remembre your friends well! I will hoist a glass to them all at dinner tonight.
These four are getting anxious: wipe the tears and throw the damn ball!!

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John Soares June 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for your kind words Laura. I think you have four beautiful dogs that are very grateful to be with you!

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John Rigas July 12, 2011 at 4:47 am

Dear John Have A Good Day

I found your link, after a research in Google with tag “Golden Retriever Molly”, as 15 days ago we lost our own Molly, age 11, in Greece. Unfortunately our dog was poisoned…
Your article was a balsam for our family. Our Molly was 100% similar with yours and the emotion was huge for all of us!
Thank you very much for the feelings you created for us, writing all these…

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Christy Willmes July 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

John both your dogs are beautifiul and you spent a lot of time together . You have some great memories and great photos. Sadly you can never replace what you’ve lost.It just gets easier with time . Like I said mans best friend their loalty amazes me . Sorry for your loss 🙁

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Nicky Parry October 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

Such beautiful photos of your two dogs, John. And a touching commentary to accompany them. Dogs are very special animals. Their loyalty and friendship are barely comparable to what we get from (most) people.

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John Soares October 5, 2011 at 7:23 am

Nicky, it’s been over a year now and I still think about my dogs every day. Not with sadness, but with gratitude for the happiness and adventure we shared.

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