Milwaukeeans who frequent the Wisconsin State Fair, parades and charity
events may recognize a familiar face — the city’s famous German
shepherd, Molly the Motorcycle Dog. Molly’s owner, Hales Corners native
Jim Tremmel, was first attracted to the breed as a young boy growing up
with his father’s German shepherds. Since then, three of Tremmel’s five
dogs have been a variation of the breed, and all have ridden on his
His very first shepherd, Lady, is the motorcycle dog who started it all,
rivaling Molly for her fame. Molly, a 7-year-old, long-haired German
shepherd, was a birthday gift Tremmel gave himself back in 2010. As soon
as 9-week-old Molly arrived at her new home, Tremmel started training
“The morning of July 4, I went up to a town called Ripon and picked her
up. (We) got home by 9 in the morning, and after (that), we were out
riding the side streets for half an hour or so,” Tremmel remembers.
After her first motorcycle ride, Molly then attended her first Fourth of
July parade — the first of many — and her first firework show to dampen
any future fear of thunder.
Tremmel explains that training Molly at such a young age greatly
impacted her lack of fear of riding on the bike. Although Molly is not
strapped onto the motorcycle, her owner is incredibly careful when he
rides with her. A pad on the tank keeps her from sliding, her signature
pink dog goggles keep her eyes safe during rides, and Tremmel makes a
point to avoid freeways and keep to a maximum speed of 50 miles per
“I’ve been riding motorcycles for about 40 years or so,” he says. “I’ve
never had to dump a bike, but if I ever had to, I wouldn’t want her tied
to the bike or to me. So if she had to jump, she could just jump. I’m a
very cautious rider.”
addition to popular appearances at fairs, parades and other events,
Tremmel and Molly also work with several charities, including The
Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen Wisconsin and MECA Vest A K-9 Fest. While
ringing bells for The Salvation Army, Tremmel brings a bed for Molly,
where she obediently stays and sits so still that some patrons aren’t
sure if she’s real. “(When they realize she’s real,) no one wants to go
up and pet her because they think she’s guarding the kettle,” he adds.
Tremmel says he’s been trying — albeit unsuccessfully — to teach Molly
to ring the bell, but having such a dedicated and adorable sidekick
definitely helps bring attention and donations to the cause, even if she
is chewing on the bell handle instead of ringing it.
After a familial experience that involved nursing homes, Tremmel decided
he and Molly would begin visiting nursing homes and hospitals to
brighten people’s days. “Just to see the smiles on patients’ and
residents’ faces — that makes my day,” Tremmel explains. “That’s the
main reason why I do this.
“That’s one of the two things (I wanted in a dog),” he continues. “To be
really good and gentle with people, especially little kids. Where if
she’s chewing on a bone or something like that and a little kid comes up
and grabs it or sometimes a (little kid) will be sitting next to Molly
taking pictures and they might grab her ear and pull it, and she’s like,
‘Yeah, whatever.’ She’s really good. That, and to come when I call her.
Those are the two things (I wanted). Everything else is extra.”
Those extra abilities, which include riding on the motorcycle, giving
paw and playing dead, make Molly the perfect people’s dog. And yet,
according to Tremmel, she isn’t without her faults. “She is kind of
stubborn,” he says with a laugh. “For years, I’ve been trying to teach
her not to shed, and she just doesn’t listen.”
Molly the Motorcycle Dog on Facebook to keep track of her
appearances in Milwaukee.