The Tough Truth About Frankie

When I shared Frankie’s handsome face on Friday, I described him as the dog he is at heart: goofy, adorable and loving. Sadly, there is a bit more to the story. Frankie has been in the shelter for six months. That is almost 20% of his entire life. Shelter life is obviously not the ideal situation for any animal, and it takes its toll on each pet in a different way.  For Frankie, it is not going well.


The staff at his shelter are doing everything they can to keep him happy, including play groups, enrichment activities, extra human time and more exercise. Something is just not clicking with him though. Here is a note written by his biggest fan on the behavior team at the shelter after some friends met him for the first time:

“When you saw Frankie, you probably couldn’t tell too much. Fridays are good for him, he gets a lot of walks and attention. But then the weekend comes and his routine is thrown off. By Monday morning, he is a wreck. It takes a staff member or volunteer at least 30 minutes of snuggle time just to get him to WANT to go on a walk. We take him outside, where he rolls in the grass, and zones out as we give him belly rubs and talk to him softly.

When Frankie is with people, his comfort and joy is palpable. As you saw, he will literally fall asleep in your lap. But without consistent human touch and affection over long periods of time, the stress of the kennels is slowly wearing him down. This is a dog who grew up in a neglect situation. He grew up without any human affection at all. Despite that, he has managed to remain at heart a social dog who enjoys the company of people. However, long periods without human contact cause him great emotional suffering and stress. Instead of shutting down, Frankie is beginning to show other concerning behaviors that show us his emotional breakdown. He will repeatedly jump at the door to his kennel, and has a difficult time settling on his own, even after the longest of walks. This may not seem concerning, but we have learned that these behaviors are the beginnings of stereotypy – repetitive behaviors caused by stress. If this level of stress goes on too long for a kenneled dog, long term effects occur as their brain chemistry will actually change.

Frankie used to relax quite well in his room after walks. Over time though, he is now just as antsy afterward as he is at the start. To help him, we begin and end walking sessions with relaxation time – body massages and belly rubs and snuggles. However, it is clear that Frankie is suffering. You can’t see it on the outside. Every Friday I go home and he is happy and relaxed. Come Monday morning he is transformed into a stressed out and anxious boy. Given some time, he comes around and bit by bit, he comes back to us. But he is in emotional pain here, and soon I fear it will be too late for him to turn back into the fun-loving, happy-go-lucky dog that he is.

I really am worried for him. The best life he has ever had is in the shelter. The people who love him most are here. And that’s okay, some dogs don’t even get that, many dogs really. But he deserves a home.”

Falling in love with Frankie is contagious. I realized that quickly and, just like the rest of the staff, became attached to him almost immediately. It probably has to do with the way he gravitates towards your lap as soon as you get on the floor, or maybe it’s the way his front paws awkwardly face away from each other beneath his big smile, only adding to his goofy demeanor, or maybe it’s his laid-back personality that is a breath of fresh air from the exuberant adolescent dogs you’re used to. Who knows. But Frankie is Frankie and he will make you fall in love with him.


It breaks my heart that I can’t long term foster him thanks to my upcoming move, because a house with no other dogs, a big yard and someone who wants to take him on hiking adventures is just what he needs (not saying anything about myself, just that my situation was ideal for dogs like him!).

The least I could do was give him a break from the shelter, so that is what I did. Saturday afternoon Frankie came home with me so I could take him to the pit crew group walk on Sunday morning. We jammed as much fun into our 16 hours together as possible, which I will tell you all about tomorrow!


If you or someone you know is interested in fostering or adopting Frankie, a big dog located in VA who would excel in an active, only-dog household, please email me at! Spread the word about handsome Frankie!

32 thoughts on “The Tough Truth About Frankie

  1. Katie

    Why must you make me cry on Monday morning?? Sadly, I am not in a position to foster and I don’t live near VA so all I can do is hope someone can help him. He seems like an awesome dog! Sending prayers his way that someone can step in and foster!

  2. Although it seems Frankie is fortunate to be in a shelter where he gets a lot of extra one-on-one attention and love, he’s proof that even the best shelters are not ideal places for dogs long term. I really hope he gets out of there.

    • Truly. His shelter, and particularly the team of staff, is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and they are doing everything they can think of. Thank goodness he is there at least. . . he would flounder at many other shelters.

  3. Kirsten

    The other thing of note about Frankie is just how many ‘guardian angels’ he has collected along the way. From the mom and daughter who convinced their server at Red Robin to surrender Frankie and his littermates to them since the puppies “weren’t selling”, to the shelter staffs that helped care for those puppies, to the neighbors and animal control officers who noticed Frankie’s neglected conditions and did something about it, to the staff and volunteers trying to do right by him now. I’m not really one for religion or superstition, but it seems to me that this is a dog who the universe wants to see happy.

  4. It is a sad story indeed but it was so nice of you to take home home for a slumber party!

    Have you contacted any rescue groups about Frankie? Even if they aren’t close to you, they could still be an option. One of my friends coordinates rescue transport for dogs like Frankie. (A lot of transporters like her are out there. It is awesome!) I am sure someone out there has space and will fall in live with his story!

    Best of luck to you and Frankie :)

    • Yep the adoptions team is in touch with multiple rescue groups. It’s tough to find a single dog foster home or a home with the right doggy match though :-/. Thanks so much for the tip and good luck wishes!!

      • It only takes that one perfect home :) I am sure you will find it! Frankie looks awesome! Please contact me if you need any help crossposting or transporting. I am all about helping dogs find their perfect forever home!

  5. This is so sad. I live in MD, but we are not a very active household and we already have a dog (a lazy, older, couch potato beagle mix who fits in well with my husband and my less active tendencies). I’m sending lots of positive energy and love Frankie’s way and hope so much that the right situation for him comes along ASAP. Looking forward to reading about your adventures with him tomorrow.

  6. faithtrustfosterpups

    I’m going to share his info and see if I might be able to help find a foster by way of cross posting. Looking at his bio from the AWLA website it states “Another dog who has a similar exuberant play style may work well with Frankie.” Just trying to be clear on if he definitely needs to go to a home where he is the only dog, or if the “right” canine housemate would be okay, since this information changes his options some. Thank you for looking out for him and helping get him to a better place, he sounds like a wonderful boy!

    • Frankie loves other dogs, he just has no social skills! He needs a dog who doesn’t mind his pushy play style. The thing about that is that if you find a dog whose play style matches his they will be probably pretty rambunctious in the house together :) We haven’t found someone who feels comfortable managing that yet. With the right dog/house set up/people, he would definitely be able to live with another dog. Since its been so tricky to find that (including many failed meet and greets), they are trying to find him an only dog home.

      Thank you so much for trying!!!!

  7. Elin Ross

    Now I never thought I would get a first dog, much less consider a second dog but since you mention a pushy play style, you’ve got me pondering. Our Jasmine’s rescue is sometimes challenged but he has been able to make two playmates…one big, one little…both of which stand up to him when he gets snotty. We intro’d him to the large dog when the timing of our adoption and our agreement to dogsit smashed into each other and the big dog is generally dog-aggressive…with some help from Jasmine’s trainer and our attention regularly, they truly love each other. Our dog is also leash reactive and anxious except sometimes when walking with either of these two buddies…what do you think?

    • Elin – Thank you SO much for thinking of Frankie boy. I hear you have cats though, and unfortunately that is a deal breaker for him :( Although I’m sure he would have loved to play with your pup. Thank you again.

  8. Lynnie

    I’m so glad that you took Frankie home even for one day. I will visualize a foster home for him to go home to every day. Thank you for advocating for him and doing everything you can to help him. I’ll do what I can from this end. LY

  9. Ian

    My fiance and I adopted a pittie mix rescue about a year ago now, and could not possibly be happier. This story sounds so much like her. Like Frankie, Hunny (somehow) went unadopted for six months. She has the same tendency to pester other dogs to play with her, and then play a little rougher than they sometimes like. She is at times crazy energetic and at others the laziest little couch potato. We live in DC, so no yard, but we take Hunny running and hiking and for long walks around the city. Do you think these two might get along?

    If so, we’d like to come down from DC this weekend and bring our Hunny to meet Frankie and see if they like eachother. This guy seems like he could use a good home, and we’d like to see if we can help.

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