Molly Krause is a Manhattan-based communications strategist and advisor specializing in international arts, culture, and lifestyle. Her past and present client projects include Playboy, the Zaha Hadid-designed Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Rolex’s corporate philanthropies, and the Heliotrope Foundation. Molly is also a founding co-chair of the Storm King Circle and serves on the executive committee of the Whitney Museum Contemporaries, engaging her experience and expertise in the arts as a philanthropist. You may have spotted her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Leesi and Lola, on Instagram as the @cavaliersofnewyork; because Lola has syringomyelia and chiari malformation, which is particularly common for Cavaliers, Molly provides resources on Instagram for other dog parents taking care of special needs dogs.
Did you grow up with dogs?
I grew up with a Wheaton Terrier named Megan. We fought over her name. It was Ginger, and then a bunch of typical dog names, and I don’t know how we ended up with Megan, a random human female name. I loved Megan a lot, but she, unfortunately, had a tinge of aggression, and she had to be put down, ultimately, because of violent attacks. That was really sad. We tried all this different neurology and veterinary stuff, and she was on Paxil. For the 90s, it was all very progressive.
“The Cav community is just really an intimate community of really cool people from all around the world.”
But in 2005, I was on Block Island with my family. We saw this little black-and-tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and we just fell in love with it. We learned that the dog came from this this amazing, caring local woman who is a hobby breeder—she breeds her own two lineages on the island, and you needed a bunch of different referrals to talk to her, to make sure you’re going to be a good family. We picked out two boys—Barry and Bounder. They are now 14. Bounder has cancer and Barry is totally deaf, but so sweet. They were my first puppy love. My parents have three Cavs total, including Lola and Leesi’s biological aunt Nellie. [Editor’s note: Between the interview and the time of publishing, Bounder passed away at home, surrounded by loving family.]
How did Leesi and Lola come into your life?
In 2015, I decided I want a dog—a dog, singular. Did not want two. I called the Block Island breeder to let her know I was interested. Flash forward to October 2016, minutes after the conclusion of the presidential election debate—the really depressing one where Trump seemed to have kind of gotten the crowd’s approval. I was watching it at the economist Nouriel Roubini’s house, so there was a large and particularly engaged crowd, which compounded the gloomy mood. I was just standing up from the couch when I got a call from [the breeder]. She just had a litter.
Over Halloween weekend, I was on Block Island to pick them out before they were weaned. They were 10 days old—they were like chicken nuggets at that point. I decided on Leesi, and went to go pick her up at 13 weeks [old]. Lola was still up for grabs, too, but she looked more rambunctious, so I stuck with Leesi.
A month later, I called [the breeder], “Whatever happened to the other one?” She’s like, “Funny you should ask. The woman who got her can’t take care of her. Do you know anyone who might want her?” I held the phone away. I called my mom. My mom was like, “I can’t have four Cavaliers.” It didn’t even cross my mind as a one-month dog owner that I could have two.
Then, I asked my boyfriend if this was crazy. He said, “Yeah! Of course, it’s crazy, but crazy is not always bad.”
So I took [Lola].
When they reunited, they did not recognize each other. Lola was barking her tail off at Leesi. Leesi was hiding under the coffee table. I had a Snapchat story that was a compilation of picking them out [from the litter]. It included audio of [the breeder] and their mom. And then it finally like clicked—they both reacted the same way to [the breeder’s] voice. At that moment, they realized they had a shared history. It was so weird. After that, they were cuddling like best friends.
At some point, Lola developed a habit of furiously scratching herself, and it ultimately turned out that she has moderate-to-severe syringomyelia and chiari malformation. It’s basically a combined nerve disorder where her brain is too big for her skull, and she gets a buildup of spinal fluid in her syrinx. She has these really bad episodes, like seizures, where she’s crying out. It’s really sad. And she has those five times a week. We had to have a big surgery for her. She had her skull cut open and a mesh plate put in. We did much research, and we found this specialist who’s the leading specialist in this breed in this issue.
They’re so lucky to have you.
I’m so lucky to have them.
Tell us about a day in the life with Leesi and Lola and you.
I used to not work at home. Now, I have a home office because Lola needs meds four times a day. She has regular seizures, so it’s not possible for me not to be home—I have to be with her.
They sleep in my bed. My boyfriend goes to work at eight [o’clock]. He works at Artnet. So, he does their morning walk. I sleep in a couple hours later because I work late. They get four walks a day. I’ll be at my computer a little before 10 [o’clock] checking email, reading the news. If I’m working on an active press campaign, I’ll be awake earlier, sending emails and responding to inquiries. I have a lot of calls throughout the day.
At noon, Lola takes her meds. She has meds at 8 AM, noon, 4 PM, and midnight. I had to come up with the whole schedule because she takes so many different meds. Some are every eight hours—some are every 12 hours.
And she knows her schedule?
She paws at the mirror if it’s time. It’s really annoying and I have no idea how she came up with it.
I do communication strategy for arts institutions and non-profits and artists. I work with a lot of different types of people. I work with private collections, galleries, artists, museums. Right now, one thing I’m working on is an exhibition at the Zaha Hadid-designed Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, which is a lot of fun. I have a lot of fun with traditional exhibitions like that.
You’re also an arts philanthropist.
I’m a founding co-chair of the Storm King Circle, the young patrons group for Storm King Art Center, and I’m on the executive committee of the Whitney Museum Contemporaries. I love both of those groups. They’re both super unpretentious and welcoming—and generally are about appreciating art and meeting interesting people. I do a lot of day-to-day [work] with my co-chair for Storm King. We’ve co-chaired the gala after party for three years, which is on October 15th this year. Starting a young patrons program from scratch is sometimes almost like having a full-time client. It’s super rewarding.
In the evenings, I go to a lot of art events, openings, dinners. When it’s gala season, I go out most nights because I have a lot of colleagues who invite each other to our events. We’re good seat filler, I’ve been told. We talk positive.
Do you have any affordable art tips?
Buying prints from the Heliotrope Foundation. They’re $60 prints authorized by artists like Swoon, Kenny Scharf, Sanford Biggers, and Ebony G. Patterson. And 100 percent of the proceeds go back to [artist] Swoon’s non-profit community-building initiatives. I am a huge fan of the Heliotrope Foundation’s work, and have organized the commission of some of the edition sets. One of the fun print editions released several years back is a mock advertisement that says “Cash for Your Warhol,” by the Boston artist Geoff Hargadon.
What do you do when you travel? Do you bring the dogs?
My parents’ new co-op has a limit on dogs, so they can’t watch them anymore. And Henri [my boyfriend] and I both work in art, so oftentimes we’re traveling to the same places for work. Leesi is the most adaptable dog in the world, so she just stays in NYC and gets handed around to my friends. But Lola has meds four times a day and seizures; she’s the epitome of special needs. A few weeks ago we took her to Spain with us for 10 days. I got her a collar tag that says “Help me” in Spanish on one side. On the other side, it says “Has seizures, needs medication” and has my number.
It was the first time we had ever flown with her. We went from New York to the Balearic Islands, which included a layover in Madrid. We took planes, trains and automobiles to get there. Now that we know she can do that, we’re bringing her to Los Angeles for an upcoming trip I have to meet with one of my clients, Playboy. They don’t know I’m bringing the dog, yet.
Do you have any favorite travel products for dogs?
We love the Grtdrm Pet Sling Carrier Bag Travel Tote; it’s like a sweatshirt material. I had an idea that, you know, I’m going to be on the plane with her forever, so I should get a sling.
Turns out, she fucking loves her travel crate, the Premium Airline Approved Expandable Pet Carrier by Pet Peppy. She was so happy in it, she didn’t need the sling.
I also always carry an emergency bully stick.
We have an Amazon affiliate link that has all the dogs’ favorite products, our tried-and-true “essentials.” I often refer people there when they have specific product questions!
Do you have any other favorite dog brands?
The @snoodfairy on Instagram—her name is Luna. She’s this amazing woman from Virginia, who’s so sweet and makes hand-knit items to order. Her prices are so reasonable. When Lola had her surgery, she sent Lola a pillow. I just love supporting passion projects.
@mypetcanva sent us these adorable custom blankets with Lola and Leesi’s faces on them. Lola’s has a pink background and Leesi’s is blue.
My parents, who have two 14-year-old dogs, have given them Hill’s Science Diet their whole long lives. So, I feed my girls Hill’s Science Diet, too.
Pumpkin is really good for dogs, so I’ll get a can of pumpkin puree, and I’ll use a fork to scoop out the pumpkin into little blobs onto a cookie sheet. And I’ll fluff it out with the fork to give it texture, and freeze it. Once a day, we’ll have these little textured treats.
We also love Kong peanut butter—it’s 100% real peanut butter! I use it four times a day to give Lola her meds. Before the first use, I knead the tube and squeeze out all the excess oil. Then, I glue Lola’s pills together with peanut butter. I feed them to her and have her chase it down with a tiny handful of food. All of her medications say “take with food.” Leesi gets blanks of pure peanut butter so she doesn’t feel sad and left out.
What about accessories?
They have a bunch of different leashes. Our cutest leashes are these light pink, baby pink rope ones that I got on Etsy. I had them custom-dyed. Rose quartz Rit dye is the color.
Their regular leashes are Lupine, which is the best brand ever because they replace them even if they’re chewed—for life. My parents have used Lupine forever, too. You can mail it in and they replace it.
Tell us about the decision to become dogfluencers.
One of my client actually suggested it. I hadn’t even thought about it, and one of my clients was like, “You should make an Instagram for your dog.” This was before I even got Leesi. And I was like, this could be fun, and I didn’t want to annoy my normal followers with dog photos. From there, we met @lucystakeover on our street. They’re besties now. The owner, Laura, and I became friends. So, we met through Instagram, and we both would help each other grow followership with our accounts. And it was just a fun thing.
Obviously, as a new dog parent, you want to post all these pictures. I didn’t want to post them on my normal Instagram because I post a lot of art, and I try to educate people. [Art critic] Jerry Saltz joked to me, “I don’t follow people with dog pictures and food pictures.”
The big thing we are forever grateful for is when Lola started having her scratching fix, which was before she would get the seizures. We didn’t know what it was. I would film it to potentially show a vet, and I posted on the Instagram story, and I was like, “Does anybody recognize this?” And people responded and suggested, “You know I can’t diagnosis it but this looks like syringomyelia—my dog has it.”
The suggestion of her having this disorder came from crowdsourcing opinions on Instagram.
Consequentially, we document her whole journey on Instagram and we save it in Highlights. We regularly get messages thanking us, like, “I want to thank you so much; I would have never known my dog had syringomyelia.” I have a reel of what they look like so people can see. It’s really difficult to watch a dog having a seizure, but it’s really important.
And whenever someone’s going to babysit them or watch them, I always make sure I show them videos.
You’ve really built a community.
Yeah! The Cav community is just really an intimate community of really cool people from all around the world.
I try to do pretty content, because I know that’s the content that gets the most engagement, in general. Ours definitely isn’t the most beautifully curated feed—there are definitely much more aesthetically pleasing Cav accounts out there like their buddies Pixel and Nessa—but what I think my audience appreciates most is Lola’s journey, most of all. I think it’s our duty to educate people about it. We’re happy to help.
Photography by Tayler Smith