Saturday, March 25, 2017

Good Golly, Miss Molly

If it is true as it is said that one of the reasons the Creator gave us dogs was to make us laugh and lighten our spirits, then Molly was indeed a gift from above.

She was an adult Basset hound of indeterminate age when we acquired her as a companion for our inexplicably nervous and skinny young Basset Mandy.  Molly was the exact opposite of nervousshe was enormous, weighing over ninety pounds and in possession of a long patrician snout, magnificent silky ears and a chest which looked downright seaworthy (we used to call it her prow).  Her ears were so long and her legs were so stubby she used to step on her ears when she walked.

Molly came from Michigan and traveled cross-country when we moved back to the Niagara area.  With two Basset hounds, two cats, two gerbils, and two hippies in our painted VW microbusit was a long strange trip indeed.  We ended up in Hamilton, Ontario with a fenced-in back yard and a spot for the enormous dog house Paul had built for the dog run back in Michigan.  Mandy was so nervous about the adorable children next door that she wore a trench around the outside of the yard with her pacing (when she was not trying to hide in the dog house) but Molly just sat there soaking up the hugs and adoration.  (It still amazes me that later when Paul sold Mandy to a young couple with young children she became a completely different dog.)

Molly adored everyone and everyone adored her.  I am sure if we had thought of it at the time, we could have spent hours dressing her up in scarves and pearls, feather boas and shawls and she would have just sat there enjoying the attention.  Molly also loved going for car rides.  One day Paul’s brother had come for a visit and after a couple of hours, headed out to the driveway and his VW Beetle.  As soon as he opened his door, Molly jumped into the back of the car, landing on the floor, of course.  We called her out.  She sat down, an immovable object, with the “hump” between her front and back legs.  One of us pushed from the rear and another of us pulled from the front and still she would not budge.  Paul’s brother was forced to take her for a brief ride around the block before she deigned to exit the vehicle.

I was home alone one afternoon and decided that Molly needed a bath.  It was struggle but I finally managed to lever her into the bath tub.  Once she was all nice and clean she was ready to exit the tub.  I stepped back and said to her, “Jump out, Molly!”  She looked at me like, Yeahright.  I realized I had a problema great huge slippery wet dog problem.  I could barely maintain a grip on her much less lift her out of the tub.  We compromised and I finally managed to lift her front end and slide her across the edge of the tub (not unlike a toboggan on a snowy slope) until she landed in a rather undignified heap on the bathroom floor.  But she didn’t seem to mind at allshe was happy to go back outside and find fresh dirt to roll in.

One day Paul decided he did not want Molly eating in the dining room with us.  He placed her metal roasting pan full of kibble in the laundry room.  Molly was insulted by this.  It seems she figured—if we ate in the dining room—she would eat in the dining room!   We sat down for supper one night and Molly appeared by the table with the strangest expression on her face.  Her cheeks were bulging like a chipmunk’s.  I looked her in the eye and asked her, “Molly, do you have a mouth full of kibble?”  She gazed back with sheer innocence so we pretended to look away (trying not to laugh).  Once she seemed confident that we were no longer staring at her, she surreptitiously spat a heap of kibble onto the floor (Ptui! Ptui! Ptui!) which she proceeded to eat in a most delicate ladylike fashion.  From then on, Molly was allowed to eat with us in the dining room whenever she wished.

When I began what was to be my most illustrious and long-lived career as a picture framer, Paul decided that Molly would be lonely by herself all day and he rehomed her.  And that was that.  No more Molly.

Many months later Paul informed me that we were going on a road trip to visit an old friend of mine.  “Is it a childhood friend?” I asked, “Someone I went to college with?”  He steadfastly refused to tell me who we were to visit as we drove further and further down winding country roads and up and down shallow hills and valleys.  It was the middle of winter and the snow lay deep in the bare woods.  We finally arrived at a small house at the edge of the road, and much to my embarrassment and horror, Paul made me go to the door alone and knock.

I heard her barking before she pushed the door openit was Molly!  She was overjoyed to see us.  She looked great, and the new owner told us she had not lost several of her unusual skillsturns out she frequently hoovered up unopened tins of the cat’s food and carried them around the house a bit before spitting them out unharmed.  It was so wonderful to see how happy and well-loved she was.  And before we left them, Molly performed her famous feat of heaving her bulk into the air unaided and I captured it on film.

“Good girl.” 

Molly (Hand-coloring by Kim Wilson)