Our Easter holidays started well with gorgeous weather and a weekend spent in the fresh air. On Sunday morning we went on one of our favourite walks, packing a picnic of coffee and biscuits for John and I, and hot chocolate and marshmallows for Bella and Angus. For Molly we packed: lead, muzzle, water, bowl for water, dog biscuits...it's a bit like trying to get out of the house with a baby. We walked for a couple of miles through the greenest countryside and I remember thinking - and telling John - how happy I was, how good it felt to be out in the sunshine when spring was at it most vivid, with the bluebells just coming up, and the promise of two weeks off work ahead of me. Rural England in the spring is a sight to behold and the light was so beautiful in the woods - I was really cross that I hadn't brought my big camera, so had to content myself with the one on my phone. The air was heavy with the smell of wild garlic and the birds were singing and the sun was really warm. We drank our little elevenses picnic in a quiet spot and it was just completely lovely. We came home and ate lunch outside, then spent all afternoon in the garden, working on some jobs, with the kids either on the trampoline or their bikes, and Molly mostly lolling on the grass. Dinner was chicken in a creme fraiche and tarragon sauce with the kitchen door open and the smell of cut grass in the air.
And then, while John and I were in the kitchen clearing up, Molly bit Bella on the neck as Bella was stroking her and saying goodnight. We took Bella straight to A&E to have the wound cleaned and dressed, and she was prescribed some antibiotics just to be on the safe side. We returned home around 11pm Sunday night, dazed and confused, and once the kids were in bed had a conversation we never thought we'd have about returning Molly to the kennels we adopted her from. We both slept very little Sunday night and first thing Monday I phoned them. They were shocked - we were shocked! - as it's very unlike greyhounds to do anything like this as they are known to be a gentle breed, but said of course, you must bring her back. So, while my sister looked after Bella and Angus for the morning, John and I drove back to the kennels with a confused Molly in the boot. We had a long chat with the lovely people who work for the charity. They were mystified as to why it had happened but said she could be in pain, or irritable from the heat. We've always been very strict with the children on how to behave around dogs; don't pet a sleeping dog, always call them by name first, move away as soon as you hear the low "warning" growl, don't get in their personal space. But whatever the reason, John and I knew we could never take the chance that it might happen again, or that Molly might hurt a friend or family member's child. The charity assured us that Molly would be re-homed, perhaps with a family without children, or with older children, and we said goodbye to her.
It completely broke me. I cried like a baby. John cried like a baby. We stood outside the kennels and just hugged each other, crying. We all really, really loved that dog. I feel teary now even writing this. Molly lived with us for only four months but it felt like a lot longer, and I think you all know what she meant to us. I loved my daily morning dog walks before work, loved watching the seasons unfold in the woods, and she was part of our family. We desperately miss her presence in the house, the clatter of her paws on the floor, the tinkle of her collar, the way she just had to hear the dishwasher open to appear, suddenly, and start trying to lick the plates. The way she would jump on our bed first thing in the morning to say hello, the way she'd lie oh-so-patiently by the dinner table, hoping for scraps. I always fed her my toast crusts. Silly things, little things, but things that made her part of our family.
It was the right decision, but incredibly hard to make. Fortunately the wound on Bella's neck is healing very nicely and now just looks like a graze. She will have a scar, but it will be small and should fade with time. She's not remotely put off dogs, thank goodness. But yesterday was hideous. John and I cried a lot. The children seemed remarkably fine with it all, but then Angus woke up sobbing last night, saying how much he missed Molly, and Bella has been subdued all day today. It's sinking in. I've been keeping myself very, very busy, because it helps me. I'm smashing that Easter to-do list, let me tell you. Today was easier, and I spent a very therapeutic few hours in the garden this afternoon, working and thinking.
We loved being dog owners. It suited us very well, and I like to think we were ok at it. But I don't think we can adopt another retired greyhound for the time being. Perhaps when the kids are older. But for anyone who it thinking of adopting one, please don't be put off by this; incidents like this are very rare and they are generally calm and loving dogs who make wonderful pets. I'm not put off, but I know that now is not the time. We are considering our options. We may get a puppy. To be honest, homing a retired greyhound - with the toilet training and obedience training - is a bit like getting a puppy, so I feel like we've got a much more realistic idea of what to expect now than we ever had before. And we'll all be OK. We are already more OK today than we were yesterday, and we'll be better still tomorrow.
We have a lot to think about. But I am so happy, in a sad sort of way, that we got those four wonderful months with Molly, even though she barked at all other dogs, chewed the furniture, wee'd on every single carpet, stole food straight off our plates, and generally made herself known. We loved her very much.