I would like you to meet Frankie! He is the newest addition to the Ann’s Entitled Life family. He is a small terrier rescue we brought home approximately six weeks ago.
After Mr. Max passed away I decided I did not want any more dogs. No way, no how. And, since Hubby is allergic to fur (dander) that meant cats were out too. Hubby, however, had other ideas.
We spent a good portion of 2019 and 2020 traveling. And, I loved it! We started 2019 on a Panama Canal cruise and then spent a month traveling Florida, spent some time in Savannah, and then came home for a few months until we took off for six weeks in Italy.
I was happy to wait out 2020 and head back to travel in 2021. We had canceled our trip to the Nordic fjords and our fall leaf-peeping tour through New England and Canada. In 2021 we had (still have) a trip to South America and Antarctica booked. I was all set to spend a month or two in Chile afterward.
The best-laid plans…
Hubby loved Mr. Max and the feeling was mutual. We went to some great lengths to make certain Max had as long and good a quality of life, as possible. His living for nearly 4.5 years with GME (making him the longest-lived post diagnoses dog at Cornell with GME at the time of his death and the second-longest we could find in the United States) leads me to believe we were successful.
A lot of Max’s day-to-day healthcare fell to me. While I wanted to the best for the little guy, being perfectly honest it was draining at times. To say I was leery of getting another dog is an understatement.
Hubby had started cruising Petfinder late last year. I did not think he was ready for a new dog at that point. I knew I was not. And, we had a lot of travel planned, and paid for, so I was not too worried.
When the country shut down, all the dogs were snapped up. They were either fostered or adopted. That did not stop Hubby from looking. However, since we had some very specific requirements: less than 20 pounds, no fur, and not a puppy, I was feeling pretty safe that we were not getting a dog anytime soon. I still wanted to travel and this lockdown cannot last forever.
Welllllll dontchya know it? Hubby spotted this little guy on Petfinder one day. After a few back and forths with the rescue (to determine if he had hair, not fur), we went out to meet Frankie. And, I am such a sucker, we left with Frankie after about an hour.
We do not know too much about him. His write up had him originally as 3 years old but that was amended (in the write-up) to 10 years old. He is definitely an older dog.
He was found wandering the streets in Virginia. He was rounded up, neutered, and shaved, and then shipped north with 30 other dogs. What was surmised by the rescue is he was a puppy mill stud. The lady we have doing in-home training with us told me that the puppy mill breeders will simply dump the dogs on the streets after they are done with them as it costs money to put them down. Frankie was not neutered when found so that all makes sense to us. He had 18″+ dreadlocks, was covered in fleas, feces, and urine. That is why he was shaved by the vet when he was under to be neutered.
Frankie was not housebroken, knew no commands, and saddest of all is that he had no idea how to play. As I said to Hubby, we are basically trying to domesticate a wild animal. Frankie had no idea how to be a pet.
We got Frankie on July 31, 2020, and since then it has been a work in progress. In addition to getting him to not urinate in the house (on walls, furniture, in his crate, on the floor), we have also had to take him to a lot of vets.
Frankie was fine the first day we got him, but diarrhea quickly set in on Saturday and by Monday we were at the vet early. While some might have thought it was adjustment related, his blood tests showed crazy, out of whack numbers, especially concerning his liver.
So, Frankie was put on three antibiotics, a few additional medications had a quick sonogram of his GI tract, and then went to a different animal hospital for a more in-depth ultrasound. When that first round of antibiotics ended, he was fine for a few days, and then had a relapse which meant he was put back on two antibiotics, one of which he is taking in a small dose today.
Frankie had tear duct issues and cloudy eyes. We knew about the cloudy eyes and that is not unexpected in an older dog. The tear ducts first had an ointment, now he is on to compounded medical eye drops.
Frankie also needed some dental care. He came to us missing a few teeth (six to be exact) and we knew his canines were broken. He went into the vet to have his teeth cleaned, and they extracted 15 teeth. He now has half of his teeth left. Since he has so few, he is looking at having two root canals on two of his remaining teeth. Keeping those two teeth will help with chewing as well as the bite alignment of approximately eight teeth above those two teeth needing work.
Now, since Frankie is my third dog I am not totally new to training a dog. After the little so-and-so Max was, I figured the training is doable. Frankie is very smart. He loves Hubby. Hubby is his person, he defers to Hubby, and he follows Hubby around like an er, puppy. Me? Frankie can take me or (mostly) leave me. However, I am a crazy-person about housebreaking him. Not only do I not want him urinating in the house, I prefer him to not walk on the end tables (yes, we have had to pull him off those), and I have zero trust when he wanders the halls.
Crating Frankie was a possible concern because as a puppy mill dog we needed to see if this was a positive (safe space) or negative (bad habits/memories) for him. We kept him in the crate the first week, but he quickly transitioned to sleeping in a set-up at the foot of our bed. He will not come on our bed (much to my delight and Hubby’s dismay), but he does appear to like where he is sleeping.
He goes upstairs around 9-10 pm with us, and gets up at 6:30 am every morning. He wears a belly band overnight because we do not trust him (he is still not housebroken, although *knock on wood* the overnight belly band has never been wet). He is also a jumper, so we have a gate up in case he decides to get up in the middle of the night and wander around (this has only happened once). (We also have a pet gate in the kitchen to protect the fridge!)
I ended up contacting a local dog trainer, and we have begun lessons on how to housebreak Frankie and teach him commands. He had to learn his name (he was named at the rescue), which was done before she arrived. Inadvertently, he also learned the “come” command as we would more often than not say, “Frankie come” when we were getting him to learn his name.
We have made great strides with the “pee” command. He is very, very, VERY food motivated, so I have used that to my advantage. He needs this command if we ever plan on traveling with him. We cannot pull into a travel stop and not have the dog urinate before we need to get back on the road. He’s got to do his business and a command is the easiest way to make that happen.
When we got Frankie, he weighed 12.1 pounds. Today, he weighs 15.2 pounds. When I say Frankie is food motivated, I am not kidding. Even through 15 teeth being extracted and having a mouth full of stitches Frankie managed to eat his four (small) meals a day, and ingest treats while he is being trained.
I want him well trained in the safety commands of sit, stay, and come. I have pulled him out of a chase with “come” more than once, so that has gone very well. We are now onto the “sit” command and that one is not going very well. I also am using “down” to get him to stop jumping on people. I am not sure he will ever get the “lay down” command, so one word is easier than two (maybe I should have used “off”?) The other command we need him to do is a stay command. We will have to have a pause for crossing the street, but stay is more important to me.
When he is good with these commands, we will need to reevaluate in-home instructions versus a group environment class. Frankie is chill with other dogs, but we will have to determine if the distractions will be too much.
Circling back to Frankie loving Hubby… this is good and bad.
In our backyard, we have a 6′ fence and tall (20′) bushes surrounding that fence. When we got Max he was only 4 pounds and loved to escape through the slats of the fence. Hubby put in a loose wire mesh all the way around the bottom of the fence in order to deter Max’s escaping. Well, in the 12 or 13 years since that was installed it had pretty much been ripped out by whatever varmints have traipsed through the yard. Frankie was 12 pounds when we got him, and he is an escape artist. It only took one time for him to get out before Hubby went to the store and bought an 18″ snow fence mesh to put at the bottom of the entire fencing. Frankie got out once the first few days before the snow fence was completely installation and because he attached himself to Hubby so quickly, Hubby was able to get him to come back to him without Frankie knowing his name or the “come” command. (Fortunately, Frankie is not a digger so that snow fence is working.)
The negative to Frankie being so attached to Hubby is the separation anxiety Frankie suffers when Hubby leaves.
When Hubby left the house for several hours the first time after we got Frankie, I thought Frankie was going to pace himself to death. He was anxious and we must have gone outside 20 times in those few hours as he looked everywhere for Hubby.
Over the weeks, it has gotten better. He goes to Hubby’s office, looks up the stairs, and paces for a bit (about 30minutes total now) when Hubby leaves. As long as I am home, there are no accidents and he settles down fairly quickly.
However, there are occasions when Hubby and I both have to leave the house. We put a belly band on him, and that is a good thing. We tried the crate when we had to leave for a few hours and he was not too happy. The belly band was wet when the dog walker arrived. She changed it before she left, and the replacement belly band was wet when we arrived home. The last few times we have left him, we put him in the portion of the kitchen where the slider is so he can look outside. This area is gated off from the rest of the house. Since I wanted to see how he would react, we have watched him via a camera.
The first time we left him with the partial-kitchen set-up he spent a lot of time pulling on the bells on the slider. Why do we have bells on our kitchen slider? Well, Frankie seldom barks. We need a way for him to let us know he needs to go outside, so the bells it is. We assume he pulled on them because he thinks that is how the slider door is opened. As I said, he is pretty smart. We had the dog walker take them off and now we remove them before we leave. The camera is a great way to make determinations on what helps/hurts the situation when leaving Frankie home alone.
He has wet the belly band each time we have left. However, once the dog walker comes and she changes out his belly band, it has been dry when we get home. We have also left a dirty t-shirt of Hubby’s for him, and while we are not certain if it helps, it does not hurt either.
The separation anxiety is something else we need to work on.
Now, I have spent a lot of time laying out the problems we have encountered with getting this rescue dog. Has it all been bad? Heck no!!
Frankie is absolutely the sweetest dog you will ever meet. He’s a lover, not a fighter. He probably survived on his charm while on the streets. He is super affectionate which makes Hubby happy (I can do without his licking my face).
Frankie is smart. And, he uses those smarts to please. He’s curious (nosey), and willing to learn. Whoever said you cannot teach an old dog new tricks was wrong. Frankie is learning and considering what we know of his past, he is doing quite well.
He is figuring out how to play. He has no sense of “mine” so if we try and play by keeping a toy away from him he simply gives up and walks away. He is not a fighter. We can toss plush toys, and he will run after them, grab them, and run through the house with them in his mouth. Baby steps!
He is very good on a walk. He has no walk-training, and even though he is extremely inquisitive (this boy is a nosey sniffer) he is very willing to walk well for Hubby.
Frankie is a terrier so he can get stinky. He loves his groomer, however, and is fine taking a bath. Hubby wants his coat to grow a little longer. I honestly like it short. We shall see.
His other terrier-tendency is the hunt and chase. I have told Hubby if Frankie brings us a “present,” he is disposing of the body (there has already been a chipmunk burial). The squirrels taunt this dog at their peril.
Frankie is a dog. “Duh” you might say, but Max was more like a cat than a dog with a real f-u attitude. Frankie is a lot like my first dog, Boscoe (who was the best dog that ever lived!) For me that is fabulous. It is nice to have a dog again.
Since no one knows exactly how old Frankie is we have no idea how long he will be with us. I will say that once we get all his medical issues squared away, and get him to stop urinating in the house (it is happening about once a week now, so… progress!) I am hopeful he is going to be a terrific little dog with a long, happy life.
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