Two false starts lead dog to true love

Frannie the black and white dog with her mouth smiling with pink tongue out
Frannie is proof that all it takes is one person who loves you the way you are to change your life for the better.
By Tara McKenney

Sometimes it takes overcoming an obstacle or two to help a dog go from homeless to home. That was the case for Frannie, a mellow, gentle “land hippo” who came to Best Friends in Atlanta from a local shelter.

As endearing as she was, Frannie faced a few speed bumps before she went to her new home. For example, her body language tended to give off “stay away from me” vibes when she first came to Best Friends, although Laura Cox, Best Friends lifesaving and care supervisor in Atlanta, says she didn’t mean to at all.

“She would bark at new people and had the weirdest body language, so it would seem aggressive,” says Laura. But in reality, Frannie just didn’t understand how people expected her to respond when strangers approached her. As soon as a stranger engaged with her, she would quiet down and flop over.

Frannie reached another speed bump when she tested positive for heartworm disease, a serious condition that is often fatal if left untreated. The treatment process is lengthy and requires complete rest for several weeks to months — not an easy restriction to impose on any dog. But Frannie was up for the challenge when comfy support arrived from a foster volunteer.

Frannie the black and white dog with her head tilted

Treats, creative puzzles for a dog with heartworms

Sophia Upshaw learned about Frannie through Facebook and volunteered to foster her while she received heartworm treatment. Frannie readily accepted her 30 days of antibiotics tucked inside of pill pockets. Then, she received two injections to complete the veterinary protocol. She would need to be retested in six to nine months.

Keeping Frannie’s energy level low during the required 30-day crate rest period was a challenge. She couldn’t exercise or play with other dogs. “Too much excitement could cause her to have intense coughing fits, so we would give her a Kong in her crate or come up with creative puzzle toys that contained treats,” says Sophia.

[Food Puzzles for Pets]

Luckily, Frannie loved her crate and taking an occasional nap on the couch. While she waited out recovery, Frannie’s personality emerged in her foster home. “Although she could be very anxious at times of being left alone or meeting new people, once she warmed up, she'd kiss and cuddle,” says Sophia. “I think Frannie is just so easy to love.”

A few months after her heartworm treatment ended, Frannie caught the attention of two different adopters but was returned both times. Neither instance was Frannie’s fault, but at first glance, two returns could cause a future adopter hesitation, even though Frannie had so much to offer.

Now Frannie needed the biggest piece of the puzzle to come together. And that’s exactly what happened when she met Jay Miller.

Frannie the dog lying down in front of a Best Friends table cover wearing an 'Adopt Me' vest

Dog’s missing piece falls into place

When Jay was ready to adopt a new dog, he visited Best Friends. Since he has a soft spot for black pit bull terriers, he figured that, with any luck, he’d meet one that day. Luck, as it turned out, was on his side. “He talked about his lifestyle and his previous dogs and what he was looking for and described Frannie to a T,” says Laura.

Even though Frannie barked at Jay at first and displayed her quirky body language, Jay wasn’t deterred, and they gelled on a few test walks. He’d found his match, and Frannie’s missing piece fell into place. He adopted Frannie without hesitation.

Frannie jumped into Jay’s truck, and when she arrived at her new home, she found the backyard to be one of her favorite spots. Frannie had separation anxiety at first, but Jay helped her through that and also taught her how to politely greet strangers. Today, Frannie has settled into her new life.

Frannie the dog on a walk outside on a red harness
Photo courtesy of Jay Miller

Life is better with a dog by your side

Now Jay and Frannie are inseparable, taking neighborhood walks and hikes at the local nature preserve where she is tempted to chase squirrels and doesn’t quite know what to make of deer.

“She's made me more active, exploring some of the local trails, and she’s the catalyst for me to get up early and into the outdoors,” says Jay. Frannie loves walking anywhere at any time of day with Jay. Once she's worn out, she'll nap near him but is eager to be part of any new activity, and he’s happy to oblige.

[Enrichment hikes make dogs more adoptable]

Frannie is the fourth dog Jay adopted from a shelter over the years, and he’s enjoyed getting to learn her unique personality. He believes you get out of the relationship what you put into it. Since adopting Frannie, his life has changed for the better. “Frannie has added some energy and life to the house, and that's been a blessing,” he says. “Hopefully she's as happy with me as I am with her.”

Frannie the dog out on a walk on a wooden staircase with a large body of water in the background
Photo courtesy of Jay Miller

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