Slumber Party With Frankie

First and foremost, thank you all so much for the overwhelming response to yesterday’s post about Frankie’s situation.  I know many of you are involved in animal rescue and get bombarded with requests to help pets in need every single day, so the fact that you took the time and energy to share Frankie’s story truly means the world to me.

I also want to make something else clear: I am not asking you to put your efforts into a dog with “issues.” Frankie is not the problem child of the shelter that we’ve all fallen in love with because he’s been here the longest and we can’t help but hope he has a happy ending – this isn’t that at all. Frankie is truly one of the best and easiest dogs I have ever met, he just continues to get dealt the worst hand. His odds are changing now though, thanks to you! So, back to our weekend together. . .

As you could gather from yesterday’s post, Mr. Frankie’s brain is in need of a break from the shelter. While I can’t give him this permanently, I am able to give him short vacations here and there. I retrieved him from the shelter Saturday afternoon and brought him home to spend the night with me and then head to a group training walk on Sunday morning. We spend a pretty decent amount of time together in the office, but I was really excited to get him out into the world and learn more about him and his charming personality.

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Normally when I bring a new foster home from the shelter I give them a couple days to chill out and adjust. Such a big change can be a real shock to a shelter dog. I know Frankie’s history though and I know he is resilient to change and new environments – not to mention he does get a decent amount of fun, novel experiences at the shelter, so I know he handles them well. Frankie did not seem stressed in the slightest when we got to my house, so I felt comfortable setting off on some adventures with him.

First stop was the backyard. This was an enjoyable experience for the both of us. Frankie, of course, loved the extra space to run around. The nice thing, though, was that he did not display any of the over-excited behaviors that he sometimes does in the shelter. He reminds me a lot of Johnnie in that you can tell he thinks hard about his decisions when he is excited. Thanks to the hard work of the trainers at AWLA, it is clear he has learned impulse control, which leads him to be a pleasure to work with in both training and play.

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After bouncing around the yard together, Frankie was hot and tired. I knew just what he needed: a trip to the creek! I was unsure of whether or not he’d been in/near water before, but he actually walked right in! He didn’t swim and he chose not to stay in too long, but he seemed to enjoy cooling off and investigating the bank. I loved watching him soak up the new sites and sniffs. He seemed to love it, too.

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We returned home for dinner where I got the absolute performance of a lifetime with Frankie and his dinner in the Kong Wobbler. Oh my gosh, it was hilarious! He was trying so hard to get those kibbles out – he would alternate between smacking it around the room and staring at it intently like he was trying to wish the food out of the hole. Funny as it was, he sure was using up energy in the process – check out those concentration wrinkles!

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After an hour or so of adventuring at this point, it was time to settle in for the night, which happens to be Frankie’s favorite thing to do. I gave him an antler which he happily gnawed on for a bit until he curled up on his bed and went right to sleep. Getting a dog out of the shelter and letting them run and play is nice, but I almost find the peaceful moments more rewarding. Shelter dogs don’t get to know what it’s like to comfortably snooze at their best friend’s feet during a movie, or how nice it is to share space while the humans work. These are things all dogs deserve in life, including Frankie.

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The relaxation and just ‘being’ continued into the night when we turned in for bed. I don’t normally let my fosters sleep on the bed, but I absolutely could not resist letting Frankie up there for just one night. And I am so happy I did – he is an unbelievable cuddler! He snuggled right up next to me like it was his absolute favorite spot. He didn’t stir all night until we woke up early the next morning for the pit crew walk (which his snuggles almost made us late for!). I think sleeping together was my favorite part of the whole visit.

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phone02 phone05phone04I’ll leave the update and cute pictures from the pit crew walk for another post. For now, I just hope I was able to get across how truly awesome this pup is. It is not every day you find a dog that you can take out of a shelter and fit almost seamlessly into home life, but that is Frankie. Thanks for taking the time to hear his story and learn more about what’s behind those blue and brown eyes. He and I are both so grateful.

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If you’re in the DC area and are interested in fostering or adopting Frankie, please email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com!


Preparing for a New Dog

Now that thing’s have settled down a bit (famous last words) it’s time to start thinking about a new foster dog. It’s been a while since I’ve had a foster, though the temporary pups have kept us nicely on our toes! I think we’ll be ready when the time is right to bring a new four-legged kiddo home.

I’ve gained so much new knowledge in the past few months that I think will really help me with my next foster, whoever it ends up being. There are others in my house, though, that have not learned quite as much as I have recently. Because shaping a dog into the “perfect” little household family member takes lots of consistency, I want to make it easy for everyone in my house to be on the same page. I wrote up a quick page of *things to remember* about having a dog that I think will help provide more structure for the new pup we bring home.  It’s not necessarily that these things alone will help a new dog learn manners, but following these simple steps as well as additional training will set the pup up to be the best she can be.

Here is our list that I posted on the hub of the household: the fridge! I’ll go through it first with my parents and then just leave it up there as a reminder or point of reference. I am really excited to see if this helps a new pup pick up on the rules any faster!  There’s nothing more confusing to a dog who is living in a house for the first time than mixed signals. . .  “but I was allowed on the couch last time!”

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If you or anyone you know is bringing home a new dog, along with a list of guidelines for everyone in the house to follow, I would recommend the books The Other End of the Leash and Love Has No Age Limits by Patricia McConnell. Both of them touch on the pointers on my own list as well as much, much more. Bringing a new dog home can and probably will be a stressful experience – being prepared can lessen that stress a bit!