Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe)
BLACK, MOLLY, AND SAPHIRA
Did you know that there are over three hundred words for love in canine? —Gabrielle Zevin, Elsewhere
Story #1: BLACK
Madame de La Tour du Pin and her family, escaping the French Revolution about 1794, arrived safely in the United States. As she crossed the ocean on the ship Diana she developed a strong attachment with the Captain’s dog. Her diary records Black’s story.
[As we left ship] Each had some personal regret to express and I myself was very sorry not to be able to take along with me ‘Black’ the dog, who had become so attached to me. I had asked my friend, Boyd, if the Captain would be willing to give her to me. But Boyd assured me he would refuse, so I did not dare to ask.
Towards the middle of the night, I was awakened by the barking of a dog and his whimpers as he scratched at the kitchen door, which opened on the shipward side [of the house]. The bark sounded familiar. I got up and opened the window and there, in the moonlight, saw Black. I went straight down to open the door for her and when I got her back to our room found that the poor creature was so soaked that she must have spent a very long time in the water. I learned the next day that she had been kept tied up on board all day but that at ten o’clock in the evening, the sailor had thought it safe to unfasten her. No sooner had he done so than she took a might leap over the side. Now, the Diana was anchored more than a mile from the quay, so the good animal had probably swum all that distance and having searched for us through that strange town, had eventually discovered the very door of the house which was closest to the room where we were sleeping. The Captain was almost superstitious in his determination not to cross such a well-proved attachment. Black never left us again and returned eventually with us to Europe.
Story #2: MOLLY
Closer to home—in fact, 4 miles down the road from my Laurel Mountain Borough (Pennsylvania) home, there once lived a dog named Molly. Probably many Ligonier Valley residents remember her. Her owner was the late Louise (Corky) Barnhart.
Corky was as passionate about serving her Ligonier community as she was desirous of melting into the background of the organizations she serves. She and her husband owned the Ligonier Newsstand until Corky sold it after her husband’s 1974 death. Soon Corky became involved with Christian Charities.
Molly more than belonged to Corky—she was Corky’s best friend in the world. Corky declared to me in no uncertain terms that “Molly was a lot more important than Christian Charities.”
Although Corky owned Molly, Molly really belonged to everybody. Townspeople nicknamed the Heinz 57 breed dog Chairman of the Town Board, Mayor of Ligonier, and Town Mascot.
“She loved everybody,” Corky explained. “People asked how Molly was, but they wouldn’t ask about me.”
Corky kept Molly on a leash but she ran free, dragging her leash behind her. When an innocent person picked up the leash, thinking the dog was a runaway, Barnhart would quickly reclaim her pet.
Initially, Corky dutifully left Molly outside when she visited the Ligonier Valley Library. However, Janet Hudson, the librarian, “gave her heck” for not bringing Molly inside.
“I said I didn’t think I was allowed to,” Corky said, but Janet welcomed Molly. The only places Corky couldn’t take Molly were the Post Office and restaurants.
“We’d sit outside the Diamond Café and Molly would be brought scraps of bacon,” Corky said. “Or she’d stay at the flower shop (next door) while I was in the restaurant.”
Everyone pampered Molly, including her dog-sitters Pat Wolford, Albert and Janet Clark, and Norma McMaster. When Corky was asked whether she considered Molly pampered, she’d query back, with a smile, “Is the Pope Catholic?”
Corky faced a difficult decision when 13-year old Molly developed liver problems. Albert Clark buried Molly near his house in Laughlintown. Then water bowl set outside the Ligonier Floral and Gift Emporium disappeared.
“Homer and Molly had a great rapport,” Corky said. “He always fed her ham.”
After Molly’s death Norma told Corky “I want you to know that Homer’s feeding Molly ham up in heaven.” This call comforted Corky, who said the sentiment “sure made me feel good.”
Corky considered the many condolences she received for Molly to be a mixed blessing.
“How am I supposed to get over this when people keep sending me cards?” she asked. “I did appreciate cards. I didn’t know Molly was that important.”
Story #3: SAPHIRA
While my husband Monte and I were in Northern New York in July, 2010, the Watertown Daily Times did a story on a Siberian husky named Saphira, who lived with his owners in Montgomery.
It seems Saphira discovered a fire ripping through in her family’s home at 5:00 a. m. He barked the house awake, alerting Chris Blake, his wife and their three children, who climbed out a window, scrambled down an awning, and awakened a neighbor who lived in the other half of the house.
But by then, the duplex was filled with smoke and the first floor was being gutted, engulfed in flames. They couldn’t save Saphira, who perished along with two cats.
The flames gutted much of the house, which sat amid farmland outside the village of Montgomery.
Saphira died a true dog hero.
Welcome to our family, Apollo.