Molly, our third animal family member, was a Lab so black that I can't take a photograph that shows her features without spending time fiddling with the contrast settings in Photoshop afterwards until she stops looking like a straight-out silhouette.

Our local vet's best estimate of her age when we adopted her late in 2012 was six years old. The scar on her muzzle is apparently permanent, an artifact of the hard life as a stray she had been living until she was rescued.

She was frighteningly emaciated at the time of her rescue, but she bounced back to health with the help of medical care provided by North Star Labrador Retriever Rescue followed by tender foster care provided by our friends Leanne and Brian Jewett.
With much coaxing she agreed to pose for this snapshot on the day we brought her home to live with us.
She was soon pretty robust. And although you'd never have known it when shewas relaxing, she was a formidable adversary playing tug-of-war.
She enjoye standing around waiting for something to happen or peering out the kitchen window looking for a passing jogger she could bark at.
She was kind of cat-like in some ways. For example, if you tossed the command "Come" at her, she was likely to look at you quizzically as if to say, "Are you expecting me to respond to that in some way?" She liked snow (but far be it from her to offer assistance when the time came to shovel it).
She liked to watch Eddie throw sticks. Once in a while she would deign to retrieve one after it was thrown, although the likelihood of her actually bringing it back to him was iffy due to her attention deficit disorder.
When we first got her her insecurities about the new environment made her needy, and she would leap onto the bed to frolic with us. Naturally, we loved that. Who doesn't dig cuddling with a canine?
Dog psychology is strange, though. Once Molly had settled into her new life and felt confident enough to begin asserting her independence, she stopped being willing to come up on the bed with us, preferring instead to stand alongside it and peer discreetly over the edge. What was THAT about?
We were sympathetic with her quirks and occasional attacks of disorientation. Who knows how hard a life she had led before her rescue and what battles she had been forced to endure in order to survive? What's impressive is how quickly her essential sweetness rose to the surface once life provided her with the opportunity to finally feel safe.

The mystery that comes with animal companionship is part of the fun.

Molly made the most of the opportunity provided by our New England autumns to commune with the leaves of various sizes and colors that awaited her in a forest preserve just up the road from our Williamstown home.
When forced to undergo surgery to extract a malignant tumor in 2014, Molly bore up well. Her least favorite burdon was having to endure the indignity of wearing strange wrappings made of old tee-shirts to deter her from licking her stitches. The only alternative would have been to force her to wear one of those plastic "cones of shame" around her neck, which all dogs hate, while she was healing.
Happily, her health was restored for a good long time, and she relished every moment of it until finally, in 2016, the cancer began creeping back. She fooled it, though, by dying abruptly without warning from an embolism before having to succomb to the long, painful decline that we feared was in store for her. Clever creature, that.
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