My Accidental Cocker Spaniel

My mom is a neat a freak. Growing up, we just weren’t allowed to have dogs. She kept the house spotless and no animal was going to walk on our pristine tile flooring with nasty paws. We had hamsters that got pregnant every other week (my dad insisted they were lonely apart), pigeons and doves (my dad was a fan of birds), a squirrel (rescued) and fish (very boring.) Still, no dog.

I got my first dog while I was in graduate school with zero experience or hands-on knowledge about dogs. She came to me from Oklahoma, on a plane, from her breeder.  I searched on the Internet (yes, I was ignorant on puppy mills) and though I really wanted her brother (I heard that male cocker spaniels had better temperaments), she was the only one left. She was my accidental cocker spaniel, the one I didn’t really want, but settled for since I really wanted a dog. I figured I’d better do it before I changed my mind.

Six-hundred dollars later and a plane ride to Norfolk, Virginia, I had my first dog. She peed in her crate. Poor thing. I guess with a long plane ride from Oklahoma, she was bound to have an accident. I planned on naming her “Xena Warrior Puppy” but settled on “Molly” because she looked like a “Molly” for the lack of a better explanation.

Molly was (and still is) cute from the get-go with brown, black and white fur. A sable-colored cocker spaniel is pretty unusual. The usual colors are buff, black or brown so she’s definitely unique and it calls for regular attention when we’re at Petsmart checking out the food aisle.

When I got home, I released her from her crate. I’m sure she was thrilled to be free by then after her first plane ride. She wandered through the living room sniffing every nook and cranny; her nub wagging excitedly as she explored her world. I watched hoping she wouldn’t pee in the house and thankfully, she didn’t.

She slept a lot the first few weeks, learned to walk on leash, peed and pooped outside and say “Hi” to the lab next door. In a matter of weeks, she was housebroken thanks to the crate-training method. I was pretty proud of myself since it was my first dog.

After a few months of crate-training, she ended up spending most of the night on my bed. I know it wasn’t the smart thing to do, but she was my first dog (ever) and she was cuddly.

Molly is feisty like me. Stubborn too. Knows what she wants (food, people and toys – in that order). She hogs half the bed. Snores like a freight train on its last leg. Loves playing fetch to the point of exhaustion.

I’m not sure why I’m rambling, really. Now that Molly’s eleven-years old, I’m realizing that she’s only got so many years left with me. She puts up with our one year old toddler. I’m still not sure if she likes him, she mostly tolerates the child, but we know that she doesn’t mind the food he continues to feed here. So I suppose that’s good enough from a “boy and his dog” relationship.

I can already tell that she’s slowing down. It’s getting harder for her to get up in the morning. Fatty lumps are growing around body; common among older dogs. She seeks more attention that she used to (belly rubs and such) and likes hanging close to us on the sofa. We’ve had to remove some of her teeth since they were totally rotten. While she chases a toy like an old pro at fetch, she couldn’t keep up with our younger lab who was full of energy.

I’m realizing that she’s in her prime of life and it’s only downhill from here. It’s funny how the passage of time changes perspective. She was a little thing at eight weeks and now she’s right at 27 pounds with a lot of attitude and is living (what we think) a full life for a dog.

I’ve had that “end of life” conversation with her. She’s been informed in no uncertain terms that if she plans on dying on me that she could do it in her sleep and not have me take her to the vet to put her down. I’m banking on her understanding human language and that she’d follow through with my request. Highly unlikely, I know. Still, I hope that when the time comes that she’ll let me know and in the interim, we’ll enjoy the time we have together.

P.S. I picked a cocker spaniel because I used to read books written by Enid Blyton (a British writer) as a child and her characters were often around the breed. As I said, my logic for picking a dog wasn’t actually primed in research and knowledge!