Molly Bernard And Her Sweet, Screaming Chihuahua, Henry
Pets & Their People features ‘how we met’ vignettes of dogs and their humans, uncovering the particulars of this unique relationship, from touching adoption tales to outlandish quirks.
A couple months back, Wild One visited Molly Bernard’s vibrant Brooklyn apartment to see where her and her dog, Henry, spend their days. Molly, an actor known for her roles in ‘Younger’ and ‘Transparent,’ is enormously welcoming, kind and, unsurprisingly, a fantastic storyteller, especially when it comes to sharing tales about Henry. The pair showed us their favorite spots to cozy up, and chatted about everything from Molly’s recent engagement, to Henry’s at-work poop incident. Read on for their story!
Wild One: How did you meet Henry?
Molly Bernard: Oh this is a good story! About 5 ½ years ago I was in LA assisting a writer-director named Nikole, who was making her first big film. I frequently dog sat her terrier, Norman, who she had the deepest bond with. Norman was technically a dog, but was really a person in my mind.
On Nikole’s day off we went for a walk in Silver Lake, where we spotted a sign stapled to a wooden post. The sign said that this French couple had a dog they couldn’t keep and were going to take him to the pound that weekend if no one wanted him. My favorite part of the sign, which had those paper tear off tabs, was that it said “please join me on my cellphone if you’re interested.” So I joined him on his cellphone, and said I would love to meet Ringo, Henry’s name at the time. The man told me that someone else was actually coming to adopt Henry that weekend. Upset, I asked them to let me know if that falls through. That Saturday they gave me a call because the other girl never showed up, and asked if I wanted to come meet Ringo. I was there 15 minutes later and fell in love. Now Henry is six!
WO: Why did this french couple have Ringo/Henry?
MB: They had a teacup chihuahua, which is Henry’s mom. They think a dog came in through their backyard and got her pregnant, which happens fairly frequently in LA. They didn’t know she was pregnant until she started bleeding and howling one day. They rushed her to the ER and she gave birth to Henry, who was a single litter, which is very uncommon. They both almost died during the birth.
Being a single litter, he really doesn’t enjoy other dogs. He’ll play with them for a little, but definitely no cuddling. He’s very possessive of his bed, which we learned when my fiance and I fostered a dog that I wanted to keep. In retaliation, Henry stopped eating, he wouldn’t snuggle with us - he was fully depressed. He can’t handle cohabitating
WO: Had you been wanting to adopt a dog?
MB: Oh yes! So badly! I didn’t grow up with dogs, but I’ve always been dog obsessed. I think adopting a dog has been the best, and scariest, decision I’ve ever made. I started to seriously consider it when I graduated from grad school and had no structure. I needed a pet, but couldn’t afford one at the time. The French family I got Henry from just wanted someone to adopt him so there was no adoption fee. I also went to the vet where Henry was born, per that family’s recommendation, and they were so touched that I was adopting him that they didn’t charge me for his shots. I was 25 at the time and was so happy that it all fell into place.
Henry quickly became my best friend, and remains so. I’m generally dog obsessed and love everyone’s pet as if they were my own. We want to get another dog eventually and have some hope for solo artist Henry because he loves when we watch my mom’s dog. We just need to find a dog that he gets along with, so basically the new dog needs to be nervous, grumpy and part human.
WO: You just got engaged! Congrats!! How would you describe the family dynamic, between yourself, your fiance and Henry?
MB: Thank you! Well, now you’ve entered some serious territory. We just got engaged a little while ago. I was getting home from rehearsal and opened the door to Henry wearing a bowtie and a bell. My fiance, Hannah, had attached a little heart card on his collar that said “second parent adoption?” When you’re gay, the second parent has to adopt the child. It’s the only way that both parents can have full custody. So that was a really cheeky joke on her part! Basically, Henry’s our child, and the two of them are inseparable.
In terms of the dynamic, Henry now sleeps on Hannah’s side of the bed. If he’s sitting on my lap when she gets home, he bolts off of me and runs to her. It hurts my heart and Henry knows it. Him and I had the most special bond, but now it’s different. In all seriousness, he loves Hannah so much and it makes me VERY happy. I love to joke about it, but it’s great.
WO: Which one of you is the cool parent?
MB: Hannah's the cool mom, and I feed him.
WO: Have there been any unexpected changes since adopting Henry?
MB:Full disclosure, I was struggling with depression from ages 27 to 29, and I genuinely feel like Henry saved my life during that time. Caring for him was so rewarding and tangible, and helped take me out of myself when I was dealing with a lot of internal suffering.
WO: Do you bring him around town with you?
MB:Oh yes, everywhere. He’s been to Chicago while I was filming Chicago Med, and came to Los Angeles while I was filming Transparent. He’s always on the Younger set. He’s really mellow and just chills, plus he loves the cast members of the play I’m doing. He’s a work dog, a dog with a job.
He’s trained to just sit on my lap on planes because he’s an emotional support animal. But one time he followed me to the bathroom when I got up from my seat. I heard him trying to press into the door while I was in there and I’m thinking “uh oh, are we going to get in trouble.” But I came out and the flight attendants thought it was so cute that he wanted to be with me. They were charmed by him!
WO: Any must-know Henry stories before we wrap up?
MB: He really does something ridiculous everyday, but I’ll share some favorites. Heads up, I’m about to tell a poop story. I have to preface this by sharing that Henry is not a big pooper. He is so well potty trained it’s crazy, and basically pees and poops on command when we go outside. It’s stunning!
I had changed his food because I was trying to order online less, and found a good looking brand that I could buy locally. So he starts to poop three times a day, but usually he’s a two times a day kind of guy. One morning, I wake up, feed him and head into the bathroom to get ready. I notice that he’s at my heel, following every step I take. While in the bathroom, I turn around and there’s poop on the floor. He’s standing there looking up at me and shaking like “I’m so sorry, I can’t believe I did this.” I go to my bedroom to get dressed, and he does it again. Now I take him outside, and he does it again. After all of this I go to rehearsal at the theater where he’s always so well behaved. The director’s dog is there and they’re growling at each other. As Henry is screaming at this dog poop starts falling out of his butt - so he’s hysterically barking while pooping. It’s the fourth or fifth time he’s pooped in the last hour. I am like how are you doing this? You are eight pounds! So I think I had him on the wrong food, but now he’s back on a raw food diet.
One last thing - if myself or anyone else is crying, Henry climbs onto your chest and licks your tears. He’s my hero. There’s just something so sensitive about him. He can also sense if you’re sad, and will kind of snuggle your face and make you feel better.
He screams at other dogs and became a frequent pooper recently, but otherwise he’s perfect. Maybe he was an angel for his first six years, and now he’s going to wreak havoc. I love him.
Photo credit: Sam Liebeskind
Want more stories like this delivered right to your inbox each week? Sign-up for In The Wild - A Newsletter for Pets and Their People.
Want to share your own In The Wild stories? Drop them here to be featured.