Shop Dogs: Molly, the shop dog and riding partner

By JoAnn Bortles

Berry Wardlaw is well known to many as the master when it comes to top-of-the-line V-twin motors. His company Accurate Engineering crafts motors—Panheads, Knuckleheads, Shovels, works of art that also set land speed records. Those who know him also know that he is as much at home on a motorcycle as he is in front of a milling machine. But for the past 12 years, he has not ridden alone. Because Berry is lucky enough to have Molly, a shop dog that is also his riding partner. I met Molly during the 2011 Big Mountain Run. She confidently rode on a sheepskin on the top of his bike tank as though it were her home. And I guess it is. The bond between Berry and Molly was wonderful to experience. I’ll let Berry tell her story.

“Windy was my first dog that I rode with and after the loss of her, I swore off of ever having another dog. I feel the joy of sharing your life with a dog that you are truly bonded with is not worth the pain of losing them. At least for me; it’s just too damn heartbreaking. That said, my son Jennings really wanted a dog and I kept putting it off and off. I just wasn’t ready but was really torn because I didn’t want to deny Jennings the experience of having a family dog. One day in 2006, back when I used to smoke, I rode my bike up to the local smoke shop to pick up a couple of cigars. I parked my motorcycle in front of the door of this typical mom-and-pop tobacco store when all of a sudden I was staring face-to-face at a dog that resembled my old partner, Windy.

Shop Dogs: Molly, the shop dog and riding partner

“Oh, crap! I quickly looked away from the ‘give to good home’ poster, shielded my vision with my left hand and went on in the store. Once inside I began small talk with the manager and I leaned on the counter with my left elbow and looked toward the front of the store. In doing so I was once again staring eye-to-eye with this bloomin’ dog because the cheap copy paper allowed full view, coming and going. Man, there was no winning this. I once again looked away from the ‘dog ad,’ instead focusing my attention on my two fake Cohibas of which I just paid too much money for. As I exited the store I dared not look at the ‘doggie on the door’ and quickly went to the safety of my motorbike. As I sat upon my bike, I unwrapped one of the Cohibas, pushed in the lighter in my fairing, leaned back to light up and damn, there’s that bloomin’ dog again. This time I happened to notice one single phrase in the ad, just one single line that would forever change my life.

Shop Dogs: Molly, the shop dog and riding partner

“Those three words were, ‘Put to sleep.’ This wasn’t just a dog giveaway but rather a 24-hour last chance to get off of death freaking row. Oh, geez; please no. I put the lighter back into the bike’s fairing receptacle, stuffed my cigar back into my pocket and went back into the store. Cracking open the door, I asked Mrs. Tobacco Peddler, ‘Where’s the dog?’ That night my son Jennings, girlfriend Vivian and I went and picked up Molly. As luck, or lack thereof, would have it, Molly immediately took straight to me and not to Jennings. My son was not amused.

Shop Dogs: Molly, the shop dog and riding partner

“Well, that was October 11, 2006, and Molly is now 12 years old. Both my son Jennings and my step-daughter Robi are no longer with us. Vivian still tolerates me and she, Molly and myself have ridden motorcycles all over the United States to the tune of about 90,000 miles. Molly rides on a sheepskin atop my gas tank just like Windy did. Molly hasn’t ridden as far as Windy did but our adventures have been completely the equal. I don’t know why I was gifted with such wonderful animal partners but I am incredibly humbled and thankful. I have no plans to try and replace Molly when she finally ‘rolls up camp’ and my life will certainly have a tremendous empty spot but I gotta tell ya, it’s been a hell of a ride. I’m a very lucky boy. I love you, Molly, doggone it!”

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