BY JANET McAFEE
(The Christmas season is a time for miracles. Below is the story of a small dog, Frankie, told from his perspective, about the miracle that changed his life)
My feet were sore and swollen from standing on the wire mesh of my cage in the sweltering garage. I could barely stand up in the small cage, and my legs cramped in pain. Sometimes the waste in our kennels was not removed for many days. The stench was overwhelming, and the wail of the dogs beside and above me made it difficult to sleep. Some days we did not get any food. We dogs in the garage never saw the sun, the moon, or the clouds. We never smelled the flowers, felt the rain, or felt the soft feel of grass underneath our feet. We never played with the dogs cramped into the cages with us, nor did we ever receive a loving touch from a human.
We were roughly removed from our cages for brief times to mate with the female dogs. During the summer, it was sweltering inside the garage, and I smelled death coming from some of the cages. During the winter, we shivered from the cold. My fur was badly matted, and it felt like a painful helmet surrounding my body. The days turned into years, and I was shut down and frozen from the endless suffering.
One day the garage door opened, and humans in uniforms took us away in large trucks. A nice lady took me and one of the other dogs to Loving All Animals. I went to a foster home with a nice lady named Joyce, there was lots of food for me and a warm bed, but I was still afraid when she tried to touch me. I went to a Veterinary clinic where nice humans helped me get healthy.
Soon I went to live with Kim and Linda. They already adopted another dog from Loving All Animals. My new sister Willow wanted to play, but I just stood there frozen, not knowing what to do. Months later, I was happy to find this note my new mom, Linda, wrote about me:
“I contacted Loving All Animals looking to foster a rescue Shih Tzu. The dog we named Frankie came into my life. He is a puppy mill survivor. He lived his entire 3 years in a small cage inside a garage with dozens of other dogs. I learned that dogs like Frankie lacked socialization and feared people because of their horrible treatment and living conditions. I prayed I was up to the challenge of helping Frankie. It took me 5 days to get Frankie to walk; he was like a sitting statue. He slept standing up with his head drooping. Every day I pushed Frankie in a pet stroller around the neighborhood to introduce him to the world. Every sound and every sight was a new experience. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, cars, stairs, people talking, all were frightening.
“Soon we started the dog training classes at Loving All Animals. Sandy Miller, the dog trainer told me, ‘Linda, do you know what you are in for? This could take time.’ Her words scared me, but I realized I can’t be more scared than Frankie. Frankie deserved a chance for a good life. Any harsh tones or reprimands would cause him to shut down. Frankie learned to sit, lay down, to stay, walk on a leash, and come to me during the classes. Soon a miracle happened. Late one night when Frankie had a bad dream, I woke him up. Frankie ran to me, and in a moment I will never forget, he put his legs around my neck and gave me a huge hug. I knew then I was not his foster mom, but his forever mom. I signed the adoption papers. Today Frankie is always by my side. He is still a bit fearful of strangers, but he prances through the neighborhood, and his eyes say “I love my hood.” We are learning to mingle at the local dog park. Frankie had a hard start in life, but he has my promise it will be a happy ending.”
In October, Loving All Animals celebrated the unanimous passage of California Assembly Bill 485. This bill helps dogs like Frankie, as it bans the retail sale of dogs and cats, many of whom come from cruel puppy mills. It restricts pet stores to only feature animals from shelters and rescues. This new law takes effect on January 1, 2019. Meanwhile, Frankie reminds us to never buy a puppy from a pet store, online, or a from a back yard breeder. Contact Loving All Animals at www.lovingallanimals.org or (760) 834-7000 for information about adopting a rescue dog, or to make a tax deductible donation in Frankie’s name.
Frankie wishes you a Merry Christmas and a happy 2018!
(Photograph by Alicia Bailey)