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.

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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.

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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!

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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 peacelovefoster@gmail.com! Spread the word about handsome Frankie!


Three is the New One: Meet Frankie

When I featured some adorable puppies on the blog this past Monday, many of you chimed in about how babies are cute but older dogs are usually much easier and often more rewarding to adopt or foster. Thanks to spending time with Jayla and now this guy Frankie who I am about to share with you, I can re-confirm that I whole-heartedly agree!

Frankie is a long time resident at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (six-ish months). He was adopted out as a puppy and then returned, and he quickly found himself as a staff favorite. At about three years old, Ol’ Blue Eyes is the perfect mix of bouncy energy and total couch potato – in fact, he spends most of his time as the latter. I’ve gotten to know him in the couple of months I’ve been working here part time, and it’s easy to see why everyone loves him so much.

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First of all, he is absolutely stunning. He is a Catahoula mix, so his merle, leopard-looking coat is unique and eye catching. His eyes are each half blue and half brown, and his long, strong legs make him look particularly noble.

"Look at my beautiful eyes!"

“Look at my beautiful eyes and my pretty furs!”

My absolute favorite thing about Frankie is how well he settles, even in a new environment. Whether you’re visiting with him in his kennel or hanging out with him by your desk (which I do a lot, lucky me!), he is lying quietly on his bed in about three minutes. It gets better – he doesn’t care if you leave! I have had my fair share of “office dogs” and let me tell you – it’s usually all fine and dandy when you’re around, but the second you leave your desk all hell breaks loose. Barking and carrying on and telling the whole office, “SHE LEFT ME!” Not Frankie. You can leave for a meeting and come back 45 minutes later and there he is, snoozing away where you left him. This leads us to believe that he will be awesome in a home and can probably just be left on the couch when you go to work for the day.

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"I love to snuggle... even if it is just with myself."

“I love to snuggle… even if it is just with myself.”

photo 3While Frankie is super chill when around people, he’s a pretty big goofball around other dogs. He’s that kid on the playground who means well but just, er, can’t take a hint that the other kids don’t want him around, ya know? Poor Frankie, all he wants to do is wrestle. . . but other dogs just don’t seem to appreciate his lack of social skills. He enjoys playgroup at the shelter and going on group walks, but he’ll need a dog who’s willing to put up with his dopey play style.

Seeing how laid back Frankie is really makes me, yet again, appreciate dogs three years and older versus the puppies and adolescents. It’s like skipping the teenage years with your kids – which I’m sure my parents wish they could have done, ha!

By the way, Frankie thinks he is the perfect lap dog. . . and I have to agree.

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You’ll certainly see more of Frankie (and Jayla) on here in the coming weeks, including real photos finally, not just iPhone shots – hope you’re as excited as I am!

Interested in adding an awesome 75 lb lap dog to your family? Email peacelovefoster@gmail.com – you won’t regret it!