My oldest dog also is my newest dog. My family and I adopted Molly, a multi-mix stray, from the Pulaski Animal Shelter on March 18. I had seen Molly's photo on the Humane Society website, and those big brown eyes and pointed ears standing straight up called to me. Earlier in the week I had read about a local animal cruelty case in the newspaper, and my heart told me the only way to fight senseless hatred is through love. Molly ended up being the perfect thing to love.

Ten years old and infected with heartworm, she put her chin on my chest and looked into my eyes as I drove away from the pound. "You are my dog now," I told her softly. And with the generous consent of my husband, Rusty, we were going to take care of her. We already had a young black poodle named Jack and a ten-year-old rescue cat named Simba, but my teenage daughter, Ashley, had eagerly agreed that Molly would live in her room and she would take care of her until the pets could adjust to living together. For the first few days, Jack barked non-stop to warn us of an intruder in the house. But within a week we were able to let them meet on leashes. Taking them on a walk together sealed the deal, as they both love walks and figured out at once they were part of the same pack. Simba, who tolerates everything eventually, brushed Molly off at first, but soon realized he was getting all the food and attention he got before Molly came, so peaceful coexistence began.

Molly is a brave trooper who underwent dangerous heartworm treatment and was crated for four weeks to prevent a blood clot in her brain. Her blood work came back negative, and now she has the run of the house. Even with her new big house and fenced yard, her new dog and cat, and her daily leash walks, Molly still wanders off to Ashley's room several times a day to sleep in the safety of her crate or on her very own blanket on Ashley's bed. She keeps rawhides and toys on the rug in Ashley's room, and her eyes follow my daughter as if Molly would simply absorb Ashley if she could.

In spite of the money we spent to make Molly well, she actually has been a gift to us. Her appreciation for all we do pours from those soft brown eyes, and her willingness to love and be loved after obvious abuse melts my heart. Whenever a friend meets our new dog, they seem to see in her a trace of a breed of dog they once loved. Probably Molly is a little bit of every dog; I only know that the more time I spend with Molly, I realize she is every dog anyone could want.