Mid-summer, I was on a mid-morning walk with Bela, when a dog that looked A LOT like Bela came running across the street to meet her. A black lab followed the Bela imposter, and a young boy followed him. The social event took place, and then the boy walked the black dog back across the street, in silence. I waited for the brown one to run after them. She didn’t. (I knew she was a ‘she’ at this point because I had immediately looked at her tag for naming purposes. She was: Molly.)
I walked back across the street, to the boy.
Me: “Is this your dog?,”
Boy: “No,” he replied.
Me: “Whaaaaat? It isn’t??”
Boy: “No. She lives a couple houses down. Keeps escaping from her back yard. I keep walking her back and she keeps getting right back out. She almost gave me a heart attack a couple times; running out in front of trucks.”
Me: “okay. …..”
I walk back across the street. Molly follows. The truck that was barreling through in between my passage and hers didn’t phase her. I start to head towards home. She starts to head that way with me. I looked at her, much like a dog looks at me, cocked my head to the left like, “eh? what the hell are you doing, sweetie? You don’t plan on coming home with us, do ya?” But, she looked pretty thrilled to be walking with us and showed no signs of turning back.
This is where The Chronicles of Molly began.
I kept my hand on her collar when we crossed streets and she stuck by my side on the rest of the walk. We all trekked up the stairs to amy’s apartment and I decided to separate the gals, lest there be any scuffles. I put one in and one out, separated by the glass door.
I gathered the #’s on her collar and began to place calls. I had to go through an ex-girlfriend to reach the current owner, but when I did, I told him the story of how-she-got-here. I suppose I did expect to hear gratitude, because if I were the receiver of such a call, it would be the overwhelming emotion. He just told me to ‘take her back and put in the yard again’. I relayed the boy’s rundown of events, so that he would understand that ‘taking her back and putting her in the yard again’ could be the death of her. He wasn’t concerned. “Just tell her to stay in there,” he said. “Sometimes….she’ll stay.” [Silence ensued, as I could not wrap my head around the complacency I heard in his voice.]
“I’m not comfortable with that,” I finally replied. “I am almost certain she’ll run after me again and even if she doesn’t, the thought that she will escape after I’m out of sight will haunt me.”
“Well, alright; you can keep her with you until I get back from work and bring her home then.” “Okay. Okay; I’ll do that.” “I’ll text you then.” “Okay.”
6 hours later, he texted me that he was home. And I texted back that I was on my way. I grabbed my extra leash and headed out. Then I texted one more time — to confirm his address. His response? “Yes, [that’s it]. Unless you want to keep her.”
Now — let me give you some background on this. This is not the first time someone whose dog-I-had-in-my-(temporary)-care suggested that I just…not…bring…said…dog BACK. That I just ‘keep’ it. It’s happened before. In Italy, the last time. I had a puppy cocker spaniel in my care for a weekend. It was real cute; slept in a BASKET. Didn’t bark. Peed in the house a lot. Had horrendous breath. I watched her for two whole days and was packing her stuff up when her ‘mom’ offered me the opportunity to keep their dog. She said that she’d gotten it for her 11-yr old daughter…and that it was really just too much work for the pre-teen. And she wasn’t really willing to put anything in. So….if I wanted her….and maybe I could please want her?? Because — SHE DID NOT WANT HER.
Well, I couldn’t keep the cocker; I lived in an apartment with two other girls…(and also, I was an illegal alien, practically squatting in a foreign land…so…)…not the sitch for that dog. But the way I felt as I walked her back to a home where she wasn’t wanted wasn’t good. I longed to be able to give her more; show her what it’s like to be in a place where you are desired. But I couldn’t. So I took the poor puppy back to the rich mean lady and her ungrateful daughter and left her there to pee on their fine carpets.
All this to say….that when I received that text from Molly’s father — I felt my stomach drop. I felt like it was happening all over again; I was being put in a position of possible savior — with nowhere to turn. Because now is not the time for me to take on another dog either. I already have a dog; I have no job, and I’m living in someone else’s place right now. My heart hurt.
I texted him back, “In fact, yes I do!”, but did it with a light air, hoping that maybe his previous text was a joke and he would get that this-text-of-mine-was-too…and I could close the door on that helpless feeling.
But seconds later, this text came in: “I work too much to give her the affections she needs.” And then: “I got papers. Just have to find them.”
I stopped where I was standing and let the world sort of spin around me. I felt a little nauseous. He didn’t want her. This sweet sweet gal that I’d just passed the afternoon with…who hadn’t done one bad or annoying thing in that time, whose face was delicious and who wanted desperately to have my hands near her at all times…was not wanted.
I took a walk, both dogs in tow. I called amy. She hadn’t even been that keen on Bela in her house for the summer…so I wasn’t thinking a 2-dog show would fly with her. I told her what had happened and tried to get some perspective on the matter, because I could only hear my heart. She was floored to say the least. Tried (which I’m so grateful for) to take her and her home out of the equation and just ask if I felt that I could care for two dogs right now in life. And…if I really believed I could….to come at it from that side, and we would work out the details. Well — I wanted to; oh, how I wanted to. She even looked like a part of the family. Her and Bela were so alike that I could post pictures of Molly and she would constantly be confused with Bela. I pictured a happy home, the three of us in it. (Although, I won’t lie; I think the ‘a girl and two dogs’ scenario is QUITE different than ‘a girl and her dog’ scenario…and not in a way I’m looking for. But that wouldn’t be a reason to not take care of this lovely lady. Not on its own.)
I called Molly’s owner back and talked honestly about my situation and asked about his. He said he would take her back, but as we chatted about details & her demeanor, he said some things that made my ears burn. You know, like how he had wanted to beat her to death or strangle her. How she’d had the audacity to piss inside. (This was after he left her in the house for AN ENTIRE DAY. She’s a puppy. Puppies pee every couple hours.)
I came to the only short-term solution I could think of. I would NOT walk her back there and place her in his care — at least not at that point. I would take her back home and let her have a sleepover and really observe her and think through things further. I did have to get her food in order to feed her that night, so I told him of my plan (he was stoked) and asked him to leave one day’s portion of food on the porch so that I could pick that up.
I arrived, looking for a baggie filled with approximately 1 cup of food; I found a 40-lb. bag. Of the cheapest, scariest looking dog ‘food’ I’d ever seen. He was shipping her out with every little step he could. And not in style.
I saw her habitat on this visit, of course. The backyard. It was so sad. Run down. There was another dog (a smallish Rottweiler mix, that to this day, I ask myself why it didn’t affect me to see him there. Maybe because he hadn’t tried to leave, even after the fence was ripped open. Maybe the only ones who get good lives are the ones who fight for the right.) A broken down washer and dryer. Dirt — patched with grass. (As opposed to the reverse.)
When I walked away, I vowed to give Molly a better life. I didn’t think it could be with me — but I would lead her to greener pastures. I wouldn’t rest until I had.
So we spent the night, together, all 3…Bela on the bed and Molly next to me on the floor…for she required my hand on her head to sleep. There was peace. And it just so happened that this next day, Amy’s cousin Rachel was arriving for a quick visit. Rachel Robinson. So tall, so blonde, so warm, so bubbly – being around her is exhilarating.
We had plans to leave Murray for the evening, and I feared leaving Molly and Bela roaming Amy’s apartment together, so I consulted the stars (and Amy) on what to do. We came up with returning her to the terrifying yard, to retrieve her later. (Amy had already started a facebook current, dedicated to finding Molly a new home and it was garnering quite a bit of attention. Below is the photo that stirred a nation.)
I let Molly’s owner know I’d be bringing her ‘home’ for a few hours. (You know, in case he saw his own dog in the backyard.) I put her in the gate, told her to ‘stay’, and then watched while she ran to the escape area and jumped right through it. I put her back in, and looked around for reinforcements. I found a garbage can and an old wicker headboard — and I built a little blockade. I watched her test it, and then walked away, as secure in her safety as I was going to get.
About 15 minutes after her return, Rachel walked in. She sat down across from me and I told her the story that had taken residence in me. She listened, with her brown eyes wide, shaking her head every now and then. When I finished, she stood up and said, “We’re going to get her. Right. NOW.” “But, Rachel, I replied, “We’re supposed to leave this evening and I don’t know how to set up a safe environment here for the both of them at this time…” (they’d had a little scuffle since, which resulted in Bela getting bit and my getting bruised) “We will FIGURE IT OUT, Kelly”, she commanded, 9 years my junior but ever-my-senior at that moment. Then she walked out the door and waited for me to follow.
We didn’t leave for the evening; I babysat the two brown beauties while amy and Rachel went to dinner. We spent the next 48 hours taking double-dog walks, flea-combing, pampering her emotionally and taking tons of photos.
We noticed how much Rachel and Molly looked alike. We noticed that Rachel slept on the couch, with Molly beside her. That Molly paid more attention to Rachel than she did to either of us. So when Thursday morning, Rachel prepared the passenger seat in her SUV, no one was surprised.
She left me alone with Molly for a minute, so that I could say goodbye. Tears fell from my eyes onto her fur. I. felt. so. happy.
Rachel, with this post, I honor you. Thank you for what you did for Molly. (and thank your mom & dad, too!)