Meet Molly O'Hara: for the love of animals

Are we still living in a cats-versus-dogs world wide web? If recent reports are trustworthy, that argument has been settled

DailyUV takes no official position. We heart whiskers of every variety. And we're lucky to have in our midst one of the Upper Valley's most passionate (and compassionate) animal advocates, Molly O'Hara, whose blog called "Callie's Wag" has become our go-to resource for insights and advice on how to be the best pet owners possible—because it’s not always as easy as it seems. 

And who's Callie? That's Molly's Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescue—her inspiration and adorable muse.  

So how did you get started writing about Upper Valley animals and animal advocacy? 

I have been writing the "Animals Rule" section of the Norwich and Lebanon Times for the past couple of years. These pieces focus on excellent animal-related stories in the two towns. For instance, I have written about the therapy dogs at Hanover High School, High Horses Therapeutic Riding Program, Lebanon's first Top Dog winner, and White River Animal Rescue, to name a few. 

Callie is the one who inspired me to write about animals in need, rescue, and puppy mills. She is our first puppy mill rescue. About a month after she came home with us, I realized I wanted to start blogging about the changes in her, both for my own memory and because I had a hard time finding first-hand stories from other people who had puppy mill rescues—and that’s what I really wanted to read. Since I couldn't track down the stories to read, I decided to write about it for other people going through the same thing. 

Now I am excited to bring those two experiences together to talk both about general animal advocacy and Upper Valley animal goings-on in particular.

Great seeing you and Callie and Charlie on CATV’s“Dog Talk”! They both clearly have their own personalities. Which one do you see more of yourself in? 

They sure do! I’d love to say I see a lot of myself in Charlie, but he’s such a bouncy, wild puppy, and I don’t run with that kind of energy. He is one of the most loving dogs, cuddly and full of kisses. I do like to snuggle with my pups and family! 

But, if I am honest with myself, I see more of me in Callie. She is snuggly when she wants to be, rather opinionated, and is happy to lay around the house. I need to be passionate about my topics and content to spend my time at home if I am going to keep up with all my writing!

Since 2018 is the Chinese “Year of the Dog,” what are some things, big or small, that we could all do to make puppies’ lives better?

Oh my goodness, that is a HUGE question. It’s not just about making puppies’ lives better, but the moms’ and dads’ too. 

First, I am a big adoption advocate, so right there is a straightforward way to help. If you want to buy a puppy this year, some quick tips for making sure you avoid supporting a puppy mill include never buying a dog from a pet store, even if the employees assure you the dogs are from a local breeder. There are local versions of puppy mills; they don’t have to be big to be bad. 

Always make sure you can meet the mom and that the puppy isn’t separated before eight weeks of age at the absolute earliest. The breeder should ask you lots of questions about your life and what you have planned for the puppy, and the breeder should be comfortable with you asking many questions as well. 

If you can't meet the mom and see where the dogs live, that is a huge red flag. There is something wrong, and you need to walk away. You aren't saving that puppy, unfortunately, but feeding into the puppy mills.

Thanks for the tips on caring for small animals! I had no idea that bunnies were so much work. Am I better off getting my daughter a guinea pig for Christmas?

Bunnies require quite a bit of work, but so do guinea pigs. In the second installment of the series on small animals, I go into the amount of work our two pigs are, and it’s not easy. I also strongly recommend against getting pets as Christmas presents, even for your child. 

Pets should be a family decision—everyone, including the child(ren), should be included in the conversation about what the pet will need, where they will live, who will be responsible for what, etc. And parents need to be prepared to take on most of the work. Yes, we want our children to learn responsibility, but using a living creature to do so isn’t the right way, as most often these “presents” are rehomed within a year or are neglected.

I’m wondering when we’ll get the next installment of Gigi’s Thoughts from your 8-year-old daughter Gigi. What creature concerns are on her mind lately?

Hah! I’m wondering the same thing! She’s been talking about it quite a bit, but I haven’t seen her writing much. At this point, she’s wavering between puppy mills and her guinea pigs. I do have to say; she is so excited that she can post blog pieces and that so many people read her last article. She wanted to start a blog, but we told her she couldn’t have that kind of internet access at her age, so this is a great compromise that we didn’t even plan!

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