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Frankie was a crazy dog. Kennel crazy, that is. He was originally pulled from the local municipal shelter where he was losing his marbles in a small kennel, unable to get out to potty or stretch his legs. As a black Labrador-mixed pup at just over one year old, he was incredibly energetic with no outlet, physically or otherwise.
When we pulled him into PAWS Shelter, we immediately got Frankie into a play group with dog friends and started feeding him out of food puzzles and other food-dispensing toys instead of a bowl so that he was getting plenty of mental stimulation, as well. He went on hikes with our Animal Care staff and volunteers and we began working on some basic obedience skills using reward-based training.
While we definitely saw some improvement in his overall well-being, and Frankie was so ready and eager to learn new things with his newfound people and dog friends, it was still very apparent that Frankie was not cut out for the animal shelter life. He would bark and spin and pace in his kennel, so much so that he was worrying the public when they would walk by him, and he even ended up with a minor ankle sprain from bouncing off the walls trying desperately to get anyone and everyone’s attention. His stress was palpable – he was screaming “HEY YOU! GET ME OUT OF HERE, I’M JUST A BABY! I’VE DONE NOTHING WRONG!”
That’s when we decided to put out a foster plea for him on Facebook. Generally, we try to save our foster pleas for the bottle babies, and for the puppies and kittens under 6 months that are too young to stay with us at the shelter. But Frankie was struggling and we knew we had to do something for him quickly. Almost as soon as the post went up, a first-time foster came forward. He was a young college-aged guy with some time on his hands and a dog-shaped hole in his life and Frankie seemed like the perfect fit.
Within a couple of days in his foster home, Frankie’s ankle had healed and, according to his foster Ivan, he began acting as if he had lived there his whole life. He revealed himself to be housebroken and quickly adjusted to Ivan’s schedule. They would take a leisurely morning stroll, have breakfast, and hang on the couch for a while.
When Ivan couldn’t be watching him closely, Frankie would spend time in his crate working on a delicious bone or stuffed Kong. In our communications while Frankie was away, Ivan never described him as overly-energetic or out-of-control in any way and, in fact, it became abundantly clear that Frankie was working overtime on Ivan’s heart strings.
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From Ivan’s pupdate while in foster: “Frankie has been such a joy to have! This puppy’s ankle is healing rather well. He’s also gotten very good at sit, down, and wait, and is catching onto twirl/spin. His ears are undeniably characteristic, as is his sweet loving nature. Other hobbies include barking at squirrels, digging holes, napping, and face licking.”
We had originally set it up as a two-week kennel break, but when the end of the second week came around we received a call from Ivan asking us if it would be okay to keep Frankie just one week longer. Eventually, the third week ended and Ivan showed up with Frankie, tears streaming down his face. He had to go on a trip out of state and couldn’t bring Frankie along.
We didn’t know how to feel; on one hand, Frankie seemed like a completely different dog – he had filled out, his eyes and coat were shiny, he was calm and collected, we were ecstatic! But on the other hand, here was the perfect guardian for this dog and we had to watch him walk away. We, of course, encouraged Ivan to come back for Frankie when he got back into town, but keeping a realistic mindset in a shelter environment is so important for our own mental health, so we let it go – whatever happens, happens.
Frankie’s behavior deteriorated over the next week. He quickly reverted back to the kennel-crazy boy we had known the month prior and all of his progress seemed to melt away. We were heartbroken.
And then his angel reappeared. When Ivan got back into town he came directly to PAWS Shelter with his adoption application in hand and his eyes, again, full of tears. He spent his entire vacation thinking about Frankie and he decided, once and for all, that they were meant to be best friends.
Ivan has kept us up-to-date on Frankie’s progress in the home and posts on our PAWS Shelter Adopter’s Facebook page frequently. Frankie is truly living it up with a true forever friend.
Story submitted by Michelle Bender.
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