The little princess

Truth be told… we had a happy family with two wonderful dogs and there was only the smallest of possibilities of adding to our home. A family friend had a surprise for us though.

She knew of a puppy that couldn’t find a home. A St. Bernard. And though we had no plans… Lady was 13… Travis was getting a bit older… the thought of letting them teach and raise a new addition with us was tempting. So we planned a visit.

The bounding bundle of joy was an absolute pleasure. And then she did something beyond remarkable. A woman came near with a stroller. The puppy went over to investigate. She dipped her head under the stroller’s canopy and the most wonderful laughter filled the air… an absolutely delightful wave of giggles.

A St. Bernard puppy had endeared herself to a baby and won our hearts. Molly came home with us.

I can tell you that everything you hear about St. Bernards is true… and amazingly lacking. They are beyond loveable, amazingly friendly, and crave attention. Funny thing though... Lady and Travis were so beautiful and special that I never would have thought another breed of dog could match the family-friendly status of a Labrador. I can tell you now that if blindfolded, and given a treat to hand out, you would never even know the St. Bernard had taken it from your hand. Gentle is not descriptive enough of a word. (Of course… later Gus would teach us that the drool left behind on your hand would provide all the evidence necessary to convict the responsible thief of taking the treat… but that would be another story entirely.) They do not exceed the Labrador… they are every bit the equal in our home.

How incredible is the temperament of the St. Bernard?

I have videos of Molly… on a couch… with my nephew, Ky, climbing up by reaching for her collar and ears. And all she is doing is looking at the camera while letting him climb all over and join her.

One night we had Tamsin, Naya and Ky joining us for a sleepover. We had set up shop on the living room floor -- Gus and Terry were upstairs -- and I had asked them to let her settle in wherever she wanted and just let her sleep. No chasing Molly… no running to be sleeping next to her… just everyone find a place and relax. In the darkness, a few minutes after the lights had been turned out, Tamsin’s repeated whispers to call “Molly” could be heard.

Naya repeatedly used pictures of Molly, and often referred to her as her dog.


Molly was an escape artist. She made breaking out of the back yard a routine adventure. The first time she did it, she wound up in doggy jail. Another time we went looking for her and I saw her in a neighbor’s yard. She spotted me and came running up the driveway before we could get moving in that direction to safely direct her back home. And once after she made a daring early morning departure, we ended up adding extra precautions to keep her in check… which she greeted by pushing through the fence and heading off to see her friend Maggie, our neighbor that always called out hello to Molly and Gus from her front yard.

Her love of the cold weather, and especially the snow, bordered on legendary. She was known for routinely heading outside and perching on the top of a pile of snow. Often, she would flop on top of the snow and look every bit of ready for a nap. In fact, much like Lady, once she spotted a flake of snow in the air, Molly would ask to go out every ten to fifteen minutes. For days. Or, more accurately, until all of the snow was gone.

She was somewhat independent, but that was more in appearance than reality. If you looked out a window into our yard, you were quite likely to see her sitting near the fence… staring off toward a nearby river… or gazing in the direction that provided the sound of children playing. While she looked like she was comfortable being alone, it was only that she was actually paying attention to where she could find some company.

Oh, she might look like she just wanted to be left alone… that was a lie. If she was sleeping on a sofa, it was because Terry was at the other end of that sofa. If she was napping in a room, it was because I was reading or writing or doing something in that room.

She was independent… she was a leader… she was never alone.

Terry had decided one year to get her shaved down for the summer. She had thick, long hair, and was always more comfortable in cooler settings. So… we found a groomer and took Molly for an appointment.

When she returned, my first impression offered mixed feelings -- I described it by telling Terry “Molly looks like she lost a bet to some sheep” -- but there was no doubt about how she felt. With ribbons around her ears and fresh from the spa-like visit, she got out of the car and her paws seemed to be floating a few inches from the ground. She was doing a “look at me, I’m so pretty” runway stroll into the house. And… she was right… she was very pretty.

Molly was forever in the way. It seemed like such a pain while cooking in the kitchen… or moving around the bedroom to get dressed for work in the morning. And yet, honestly, it was simply that she knew where the activity was in the house, and she just wanted to be in the center of it.


And protective of her family? Well, just ask Justin.

Every so often, Justin would be at our house and sitting on the sofa to watch a movie with his girlfriend. Without fail, Molly would appear in the room, hop up onto the couch, and wedge herself between the couple.

Jay would bring Lilly and Cricket to the house for holidays, and Molly enjoyed the visits… mainly because she let them play with Gus, and tried to escape and hide with the people in the house. In general, the strategy worked for her.

The thing is… if there is one single way of remembering Molly for me… it is the sense of anticipation and wonder she had, in each and every moment of the day. There was always something more in her eyes… an excitement… a happiness… a joy. It was a look that she held for all of her days.

One of the greatest and saddest of memories for me involves our loss of Travis. It had been about two weeks since we returned from that trip to the vet, and I noticed a sheet we had covering the back seat at the time was still in the car. I grabbed it to bring in to wash. I kept it in my hands, walked upstairs, and placed it in a laundry basket. Then I moved to another room. A few moments later, Molly came charging up the stairs to say hello. As she reached the top stair, she stopped… frozen for a moment in place. She was looking at me in one room, but it was obvious she had noticed something. She turned to look in the bedroom, began sniffing, and took off. She buried her head in the laundry basket, pulled out the sheet, and then began pulling out items from the basket. She was certain that’s where her friend was.

Molly was the connection from first to last. She met Lady and Travis, and she met Gus. She patrolled the yards in Connecticut and New York. She was inquisitive, persistent, and insistent.


Molly loved to take her treats and prance off into the living room. It was a routine. Come inside from the yard… break out the biscuits… give Molly one… watch her turn and listen to the sounds of her padding along. And then, moments later, she would reappear. Probably to look for another cookie… but with a kiss of thank you instead of an obvious begging for more.

To say she will be missed in an understatement. Molly found her way into our hearts and the hearts of our family and friends. She created memories… she changed lives… and I can only hope I am a fraction as observant of the world around me, and a portion as successful as finding my place in it.

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