Massie stopped at her local Chick-fil-A in Houston on Jan. 26 to buy 30 chicken nuggets for Mollie’s final meal.
Mollie was in kidney failure and was deteriorating rapidly. Although she had minimal appetite, Massey knew she would not turn down nuggets.
“It was just so heartbreaking,” said Massey, who adopted Mollie from the Houston SPCA in 2010, when Massey was an 18-year-old student at Texas A&M University.
When Massey placed the order at the Chick-fil-A drive-through, an employee seemed confused that she didn’t want any dipping sauces or side dishes to accompany her 30 nuggets. Massey — a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital — solemnly explained that the nuggets were not for a human, but rather, her dog, who would be put down the following day.
Massey was stunned when she pulled up to the window to pay — and wasn’t charged. The employee at the window simply said: “Don’t worry about it. We took care of it today.”
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“We know this has to be so difficult for you,” they told her.
“Then I just started sobbing,” said Massey, who posted a tearful video on social media after the experience, thanking the fast-food chain for being compassionate toward her on a tough day. The video ends with her hand-feeding Mollie the nuggets.
“The absolute kindness, it really touched me,” Massey said in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “I think dogs are a universal love language.”
A few days after Mollie was put down, Massey received a message on Instagram from Chick-fil-A’s corporate account, asking for her address. They let her know that she should keep an eye out for something special in the mail.
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Massey — who recorded herself opening the box and unpacking its contents — wept as she unveiled the detailed portrait, which captured Mollie’s unique features — including her spotted brown and black fur, and her floppy ears. Mollie was a cross between an Australian cattle dog and a greyhound, with a silly personality and boundless energy.
“It’s my girl,” Massey said, as she clutched the gift tightly in her arms. “They painted my girl for me.”
In an email to The Post, Chick-fil-A Inc. said: “It’s the little ways that we can show care and show up for our guests when they might need it the most.”
For Massey, the unexpected gift was a major pick-me-up.
“They didn’t have to do anything for me, and they went above and beyond,” said Massey, adding that she believes the staff knew what Mollie looked like from photos of her on Massey’s Instagram profile. She said she appreciates “having another little reminder of her.”
The package also included a handwritten card, Chick-fil-A shirt and other small gifts.
Massey — who has several chronic illnesses, including gastroparesis, a condition that causes paralysis of the stomach — confirmed that she has never worked for Chick-fil-A or gotten anything from the company except 30 nuggets and a condolence package. In fact, she once called out the business on Instagram for an allergen in its products. She chronicles her health journey and shares educational resources on her Instagram page.
Although she has been unable to eat at the fast-food chain because of her stomach condition for the past three years, before that, she was “a huge Chick-fil-A nugget person.”
That’s how Mollie became a Chick-fil-A nugget fan, too. While Mollie never had a full portion to herself, Massey always made sure to toss her pup a nugget or two.
“She was my other half forever, and any time I would have something, she would,” said Massey, adding that she and her husband have two other pets — Brooklyn, a 2-year-old Labrador mix, and Mookie, a 4-year-old orange tabby cat.
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The whole family, animals included, is missing Mollie.
“I have days where I’m just so sad, and I wish I could hold her and pet her one more time,” Massey said.
While losing Mollie has left a painful void, the sincere kindness of strangers, she said, has made it a little easier to cope. The portrait of Mollie sits in Massey’s home, along with Mollie’s ashes and paw print.
Massey said she feels grateful when she looks at it.
“Humanity still exists,” Massey said. “People do care.”