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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Motorcycle dog brings joy to Milwaukee community

Tremmel has been known to drive around on his motorcycle with several of his dogs over the years. Photo courtesy of Molly the Motorcycle Dog Facebook

Motorcycles are no anomaly in Milwaukee during the summer. The city known for Harley-Davidson regularly exhibits bikers on its roads. But among the many riders zipping down the street, there is one  sure to turn heads: a German shepherd named Molly.

Known around the city as Molly the Motorcycle Dog, the canine is 9 years old. Jim Tremmel, Molly’s owner, drives her around on his motorcycle, which is equipped with a pad bungee-corded to the motorcycle’s tank for Molly to lay on, a chin pad near the right side handlebar, a dish behind the windshield always filled with ice water and large letters spelling out MOLLY across the front.

When she goes for rides, Molly wears a pair of pink goggles to protect her eyes. Tremmel said he puts an icepack on Molly’s pad on hot days, but does not take her out if the weather is too hot.

Molly just had her ninth birthday last Tuesday. Tremmel recalled the first time he took her for a ride — it was the day he adopted her from a breeder in Ripon, when she was nine weeks old.

“I got her as a birthday present for myself,” Tremmel said. “My birthday’s July 3 and I picked her up July 4 … I got her at about 9 in the morning. By 10 after 9 … we were riding on the side streets.”

That afternoon, Tremmel said, he and Molly rode in the Hales Corner Fourth of July parade. That evening he took her to the fireworks.

“Got that out of the way so she’s not waking me up every time it thunders,” Tremmel said.

Molly also has a Facebook page, @MollyMotorcycleDog, with nearly 4,000 followers.

Molly is not the first dog Tremmel has made room for on his bike. Tremmel said he began driving around the city about 30 years ago with his former German shepherd, Lady.

“Lady rode on the back. She sat up and put her paws on my shoulders,” Tremmel said. “I (would) go 30, 35, 40 (mph) even with her on the back like that. And she loved it, loved riding.”

Like Molly, Lady wore eye protection while riding, Tremmel said. While Molly wears goggles made for dogs, Tremmel said dog goggles did not exist 30 years ago, so Lady wore regular sunglasses.

Tremmel said with Molly on the front of the bike, he can travel up to 50 mph.

While Molly began riding with Tremmel at nine months old, Lady did not get on the motorcycle until she was 1 year old. Because Lady was older, Tremmel said she was initially more nervous on the bike. But Tremmel learned a way to train the dogs to feel safe: during his first rides with both dogs, he took them through the McDonald’s drive-thru where they received a treat.

For Tremmel, the canine motorcycle rides are more than just a fun experience for his pet. Tremmel said Molly rides in many parades, visits hospitals and nursing homes, makes appearances at charity events, tailgates at sporting events and more. He did similar visits and appearances with Lady.

“That’s what makes my day. You know, seeing people’s faces light up,” he said.

Tremmel has had many unique opportunities with his motorcycle dogs. Because of Lady and Molly, Tremmel has met various celebrities and been featured in several television and print stories. Tremmel said during parades and events, he has met Marie Osmond, Jay Leno, country singer-songwriter Boxcar Willie, the U.S. Diving Team, actor Erik Estrada and more. Lady also once performed in a Packers halftime show while Molly has been featured on national television at a Brewers-Dodgers playoff game.

Tremmel has driven other dogs other than Lady and Molly on his motorcycle, but none were as involved with the Milwaukee community.

“We do a lot of riding around. … And that’s mostly just to brighten up people’s day. Molly does a great job at that,” Tremmel said.

Kate Suess, a junior in the College of Nursing, recalled running into Molly earlier this semester, during her lunch break at her clinical site, the Women’s Pavilion in Aurora West Allis. She said her clinical cohort was all going to lunch when they saw Tremmel and Molly.

Suess said the group walked past a German shepherd, and began staring when they noticed she was wearing a pair of goggles.

“Her owner noticed that we were staring at her, so he brought her over to us and he was like ‘oh, this is Molly,’ and this guy in my clinical group was like ‘oh, the motorcycle dog,’” she said.

Suess said Tremmel gave her a picture from his pocket of Molly on her motorcycle. He then showed the group some of Molly’s tricks, including playing dead and howling “I love you” on command.

“She was the calmest dog I have ever seen, like just, so chill,” Suess said.

For anyone living in Milwaukee, chances are they will run into Molly the Motorcycle Dog.

Brendan Vivoda, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, first met Tremmel and Molly this fall, at the Third Ward Art Festival. He and a group of friends had just left the festival and were getting lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market when they saw Tremmel and Molly on their motorcycle.

“He had big goggles pushed back on his head, (Molly) had big goggles pushed back on her head, and there were a ton of people coming up to take pictures with them,” Vivoda said.

Vivoda added that afterward he told people about Molly and her motorcycle, but “everybody else knew, so obviously I was in the black.”

Bridget McDermott, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said she saw Molly once, during her freshman year. Tremmel’s motorcycle was pulled over at the corner by Walgreens on Wisconsin Avenue and 16th Street, and a large group of students were petting her.

“I didn’t have time to stop, I don’t know what I was doing … but I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.’ And she’s so chill,” McDermott said.

McDermott said she told other freshmen about Molly after seeing her, and because they were new to the city, it was the first time many had heard about her.

Tremmel said Molly is especially popular with many local police officers and the Harley-Davidson museum.

Since Molly just turned 9 years old, Tremmel said the duo will begin slowing down a bit, but Molly remains active and involved in the Milwaukee community.

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