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I walk out of the adoption room with a nice young Lab and Shannon tells me it's just been adopted and points to the couple filling out the application form so I bring the dog back to its kennel and it's disappointed but I know it won't be for long and this way I can spend more time with Molly.

Molly is the only dog in adoption at Toronto Animal Services South at the moment (at least once the Lab's been taken home) and she's been in adoption for weeks now. As soon as people hear she's not housebroken and on top of that, is a bit mouthy, they move on. This is understandable. Not many people have the time or energy to correct these puppy-like behaviours, especially in a grown-up dog. We make allowances for pups, not so much for the adults.

I'm always surprised by how well Molly walks on a leash. It seems half the time she's heeling and the other half, she's walking ahead, sniffing, but not really pulling. This tells me she's got a good sense of where I am, that she's paying attention to me even when she's got her nose stuck in the snow deciphering some secret scent in the frozen earth beneath the white.

Every so often, as we walk, she nudges my hand. I'm not sure why she does this. An invitation to play? An urging to hurry up, that there are adventures ahead and I'm walking too slow? I'm tempted to respond but I ignore this behaviour from her. She's using her muzzle to touch my hand and I don't want to encourage this placing of her mouth on me by rewarding it with a response. She stops nudging my hand each time after about three or four touches when she realizes it's not getting a reaction from me. She learns.

We walk for about an hour. I can feel her easing up, not that she was tense to start with, but now she's, I don't know, skippier. There's more of a spring in her step. I know she wants to play but she's not sure how to initiate so she does some play bows, she does some zoomies around me and I want to play but again I hold back because she's on leash. She needs to learn and each time when I don't respond, after a while she stops trying. I know she's thinking I'm a killjoy and I wish I could let her off her leash and let her run and get her ya yas out but of course I don't.

When we stop to take some new photos of her, I'm reminded again of how attentive she is. I'm tempting her with treats and her eyes are glued to every move my hand makes: as it goes into my pocket, as it comes out with a tasty morsel, as it holds the treat up waiting for her to sit, as it gets closer to her mouth and she's just about bursting to snap it up but I say, "Gentle" and she waits and finally I say, "Okay" and she takes it from my fingers - not gently, like a well-practiced dog but not bad. Not bad at all.

With a dog like Molly, a person's gotta kinda sorta fall in love with her a little bit even before she's taken home in order to have the willingness to work out her kinks and that's a hard person to find. And there has to be some faith in her, that she will learn, that she will become an "easier" dog.

I don't think house-training her would be difficult, maybe a week of concerted effort, but still, it's a week and many people don't have a week and don't want to come home to a pile of poop in the kitchen at the end of a work day. That's understandable. And the mouthiness - that might take a bit longer because I don't know what's at the root of that behaviour - whether it's anxiety-based or just inappropriate behaviour which was never trained out of her from puppyhood. The mouthiness is not terrible, no biting but there are teeth. This too, however, is behaviour which can be extinguished with positive reinforcement training. Again, not everyone has the time to fix the problems someone else created or ignored.

So, what Molly needs is not just anyone. We need to find a sorta kinda hero for her. Someone who will sorta kinda fall in love with her before having ever taken her home. Someone who can see the spark in her and understand that her unwanted behaviours are just a small and changeable part of her otherwise warm personality, intelligence and beauty.

Instinctually, as with most dogs, Molly knows that people can be good but no one ever has been good to her. No person ever has been her friend or her companion. Molly wants to be someone's friend. She wants to be someone's lifelong companion, just as much as any other dog. You can see that in her face the first time you look at her. Molly needs someone to show her how.

The best way to check on the adoption status of Molly (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If Molly is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because she's been adopted already.

11 Comments to “Molly on Sunday”

  1. selkiem says:

    Poor girl... what might work is if a foster could be found to do the training ... then bring her back to be adopted.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh, look at her EARS! She is beautiful, and so clearly intelligent. I hope that her perfect home comes along soon. Thank you, as always, for these amazing posts.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to you dearest Fred, a Hero will be found for Molly. I can see the goodness in her, the willingness to please. Once this hero has her, he or she will have the pet of a lifetime, a devoted eager to please companion. Thank you for bringing this into the light.

  4. Anonymous says:

    SHe is a beauty! I lost my girl 2 weeks ago, and my heart is still just a little too raw to welcome another being into it... I will keep an eye out for her though, and when I have healed a little more, she just might find a home with me if she is still looking...
    Thanks for your lovely posts!
    diane7 at rogers . com

  5. deva says:

    I think Molly is a beauty. I'm wondering whether a retired person might be just the ticket for her - someone to watch her carefully so that it becomes a habit to take care of business outside. She is a beautiful soul who will, I hope, find her kindred spirit soon.

  6. deva says:

    Just wanted to add that our housebreaking protocol was enormously assisted by having a dog who could show the newbie the ropes - HERE'S where we pee! Piece of cake. So if Molly gets on with other dogs, a good solution could be to go to a home where she would have a mentor.

  7. Jodi Powers says:

    I can't thInk of s better way to help you heal by savIng another!

  8. Bill Testa says:

    What a beautiful dog. So sad no one ever took the time to house train her....and no one took the time to show her love. I think that's what she needs most. She sounds like a dog willing to please and eager to try...I really hope someone takes her in soon...She will make some family very very happy....She really is beautiful...

  9. Is Molly sterilized? How is Molly with other dogs, other female dogs?
    If I were to have the room , within a couple weeks (K-9 and Equine temperament (hate the word) Expert)
    Could she be transported to me Montreal..?

  10. Fred says:

    Hi Adoption Wakanda, yes, Molly is sterilized but TAS has a policy requiring a meet and greet with all family members, including dogs, in a potential adopter's household especially in Molly's case since she can be picky with her canine companions. I'm not sure about a transport but I'll pass this message along to the staff. Thanks so much for inquiring about Molly.

  11. BevK says:

    She is a beautiful dog...her picture made me stop to read about her. If she is not house trained couldn't someone at your end train her this way she is more adoptable. As I have previously mentioned she is a beautiful dog and she deserves to go to a family who will love her for the rest of her life.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.