Dog 3.0 — Good Golly, Miss Molly


Meet Molly.

The third in the Pantheon of Zarchy Family Dogs, she follows, in succession, Sophie the Wonder Dog and Montana Banana Zarchy, all of them delicious sources of unqualified love.

Molly is eight months old, about 45 lbs., a super-cute Boxer mix with light fawn-and-white coloring and a longer snout than the typical purebred Boxer. She was a stray found in another part of the state, without tags or microchip, then rescued from a “high-kill”shelter by the fine folks at Milo Foundation in Point Richmond. We adopted her two weeks ago, and she is making an easy transition from pound pup to pampered pooch.

(Kudos to the Milo people, BTW, who rescue over 1500 animals per year.)

Molly makes herself right at home.

I didn’t always love dogs. When I was six, my dad realized that I was afraid of dogs, because my mom was scared of dogs and her mom was scared of dogs.

So we got a dog, a little Fox Terrier mutt named Honey, who was sweet and soft and cuddly and shed like a husky. Despite her size, she was famous as a fierce watchdog who came tearing through our house when the doorbell rang, sliding the last few feet on a throw rug, barking at whatever intruder dared to approach the house.

One day Mr. Wolfe, our mailman, arrived as usual. He had seen Honey slide wildly toward him many times, but this day she was feeling more intense or her timing was off. She came running from the back of the house, reached the polished floor of the front room, slid forward on the throw rug, and CRASH! smashed through the window on the side of the front door. Glass flew everywhere. Honey was uninjured, but my mom noticed that the mailman was bleeding from his hand.

As Honey continued to yap, Mom asked Mr. Wolfe to come in, so she could bandage his hand. For some reason he declined.

Honey was the subject of the first photo I can remember taking, the first picture I remember printing in my dad’s dark room. I loved the smell of those chemicals, and I can recall seeing her image appear as if by magic on the paper in the tray of developer.

Honey died when I was in high school, my first experience with losing a close family member. I cried for several days, even though that wasn’t cool for a high school kid.

My wife Susan also grew up with a dog, an Irish Setter-hound mix named Tippy, and we knew that when we had kids and settled down, we wanted a family pooch.

Sophie Dophie the Wonder Dog.
Sophie always made herself at home too.

A couple of years after we moved to the East Bay, we adopted Sophie off the street in Berkeley from someone who was giving away puppies. She was tiny, about eight weeks old, and grew into a large Boxer-Lab mix, pushing 90 lbs., the sweetest, friendliest, most loving dog in our little town. With the hugest, friendliest tongue around. Every kid we passed on the street, even those we didn’t know, would stop to greet her, pet her, and get a thorough tongue-y wetdown in greeting. A complete social butterfly, she rarely barked, making her a hopeless watchdog, despite her size.

Montana B. Zarchy.

The people at Milo told us Montana was a Rotweiler-Shepherd mix (though she never grew larger than 55 lbs.), when we adopted her off the sidewalk at one of their mobile adoption events in Berkeley. She was about 3-1/2 months old and had already suffered emotional damage in her young life, abused or abandoned by someone. Still groggy from her recent spaying, she was too timid to walk to the car with us, and the timidity continued for years, as we dealt with her fears of people, cars, bikes, skateboards, kids, bright sun, wind — you name it. Eventually, loads of love and training helped her overcome these obstacles and become a friendly companion, though a bit wary of strangers. She was a good watchdog, barking at anyone who came to the house, but happily greeting friends once their identity was established.

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Monta poses for animal crackers.

Both Sophie and Montana lived for 13 years, and a few months after each left this planet, we sought another loving pet.

Molly is our latest. She has winning ways, loves humans and canines, lopes and prances and galumphs around with a special, graceful, athletic clumsiness for which Boxers are famous, enjoys leaning heavily on her people, often plays by standing on her back legs and boxing with her front paws.

She has a lot to learn about where to “do her business,” how to come/sit/stay on command, why it’s not a good idea to jump on people, pull on the leash with all her strength, dig up the garden, or eat the plants. We’ve enrolled her in a training class at Milo for four sessions and will follow up with a five-class course at BravoPup in December.

Dogs love this kind of reward training, where they get doggy treats for doing things right. We feel strongly that owners have a responsibility to train their dogs and keep them under control. Sophie was huge, but certainly rambunctious, medium-sized dogs like Molly or Montana can knock over a kid or even an adult, and it’s our job, as their humans, to teach them the rules and keep them under control.

So far, so good with Molly. She’s only had two accidents in the past week in our quest to get her housebroken, her leash training is going well, and she does seem eager to do the right thing.

Most of the time. Sometimes she forgets and commits a verboten act. At times like those, it’s our job to be patient and forgiving, not negative and angry. Of course I definitely don’t like stepping in poop just before bedtime, but it’s usually easy to stay positive. She’s just so darn cute.

And here’s your moment of Zen. Molly dashing around the backyard:

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