Walked in on a Saturday morning, after breakfast, needing to pick up some low-cal food for our overweight dachshund and a box of cat litter.
Walked out with my head spinning and considerably lighter in the wallet thanks to an anorexic-looking black lump with a whipsaw tail, the demeanor of your long-lost best friend and a story that would melt a convict’s heart.
Her name is Molly Mae.
She is now ours.
And she owns me.
She doesn’t like our cat.
She’s also a dachshund, and she tolerates Zelda, who’s 2, and who came first.
She’s 7, or so we’re told.
Her tale is classic and sad: Used by breeders to provide dachshund puppies for sale at a premium price, Molly Mae has been pregnant for virtually all of her adult life. At some point, the breeders who literally used her as a cash cow decided she was no longer pulling her weight as a puppy maker, so she ended up in an animal shelter. She’d already been there a few months when we crossed paths in August. The market for 7-year-old worn-out mama dogs must be slim.
At home, we joke about how many little Doxie puppies she’s birthed and nursed in her seven years, though it’s really no joke at all.
She doesn’t like thunder. Or lightning.
But she does like to eat.
Her belly drags the wet grass when she’s sniffing for a spot in the backyard.
Her ribs show through her fur, but that’s getting better.
She does not like her cage.
She’s a dapple, which means her color is hard to describe: black, brown, splotches of gray that make her look as if she’s about 13, which she isn’t.
She can’t have any more puppies.
She doesn’t like it when Zelda tries to play fetch, and it’s not getting better, yet.
She likes to ride in the car.
She’s Houdini dog: Her cage, despite latches, can’t contain her. It’s a mystery.
She sleeps on the floor in our bedroom, but she’d rather let the cat claw her face than stay in the doggie bed we gave her.
I’m afraid she’ll run off if not on a leash.
Her paws are the size of dollar-bill pancakes.
One day, she is going to be taken to the woodshed by the cat, who isn’t afraid to defend herself. (Ask Zelda.)
Her bark is impressive, throaty and guttural.
We’ve given her one bath, and that went OK.
She likes to take walks.
Her eyes are big and black, like marbles.
When she’s no longer malnourished, she’ll make a good linebacker.
She bit Zelda on the ear, hard, in a clear sign of doggie domination. (“This is my house now, young-un,” she seemed to say.)
Oh, and did I say she owns me?
I get up early, often before dawn, which is good for Molly Mae, because she’s a morning dog. After I make my coffee and assume my morning-routine spot on the couch, Molly Mae assumes her position, too.
In my lap, her head tucked into the crook of my arm.
She’s done that since day one.
So we sit there, together, in the dark of dawn, as I read my newspapers and enjoy my coffee.
You’d never know that a few months ago she was deemed useless, abandoned and needing someone to take her in before her fate took her somewhere else.
She’s now one of us. A family with a zoo.
My wife, who thinks dogs are better than humans, keeps saying, “I can’t understand how someone could just give up a dog like that.” If she’s said it once, she’s said it 20 times.
I nod and try to logically explain it, which is a waste of time.
All I know is that Molly Mae now has a home, a real home. And she lets the rest of us live in it.
Phillip Tutor — firstname.lastname@example.org — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at Twitter.com/PTutor_Star.