Frankie and Andy’s Place….a helping collaboration between man, and his best friend

dog_4479

As you know, Frankie and Andy’s Place exists not only to save kind and loving senior dogs from kill shelters, but also to give those dogs a chance to use their gifts for good……providing a non-judgemental brand of emotional support and companionship to people in our communities. The dogs visit senior centers every week to provide comfort, and to stimulate conversation and memories with the old folks, but they also work with other folks too…anyone who needs them, in fact.

Read below a wonderful letter from 13 year old Audrey and her mum, Tracy, about what Frankie and Andy’s Place has meant for them…..

“Coming to Frankie and Andy’s Place makes me happy because I like how calm the dogs are when I pet them and we listen to music together.” – Audrey (13 year old lover of dogs and music; also happens to have autism).

We are so thankful for FAAP. It has given us the perfect opportunity to introduce the idea of a “job” to our child who otherwise would have limited opportunities for an introduction to employment due to her unique set of sensitivities, language challenges and social differences. Knowing that 80% of kids with autism leave the school system with no avenues for active employment, we have set out to find our child a niche. All people want to have a sense of purpose. We know that FAAP has given Audrey this. The bonus is that it has given her mom and dad (also lovers of dogs and music) just as much happiness.

‘If you know of someone who might benefit from the love and companionship of the Frankie and Andys Place dogs, please have them contact us….it doesn’t matter what their need or circumstances are, we exist to help.
Frankie and Andy’s Place….a helping collaboration between man, and his best friend.

If you would like to get more information on Frankie and Andy’s Place please visit http://www.frankieandandysplace.org or visit us on Facebook x

Oreo at the DD Ranch

For the past five or six weeks, intermittently, we have been working with a dog called Oreo, a beautiful three year old GSP mix, who is one of the ‘Griffin Mud Dogs’.
If you haven’t heard of these dogs, then I suggest you Google them, as you’ll get an instant life lesson in mans’ inhumanity towards animals.
Almost 40 dogs, kept permanently in tiny pens, knee deep in filth, feces and urine…with multiple dogs in the same pen, having to fight for every scrap of food, every inch of space, and what little that passed for a shelter. The dogs had a daily battle with the rats who stole the food that was heaved over the top of the fence at feeding time, right into the filth on the pen floor below……there as no human contact at all.
There was no respite from each other. All day every day, these dogs lived, drank, peed, pooped, slept, barked, cried and fought for their survival….with each other. They never got out, they never got a break. Hell must look like this……
I was not involved in their rescue, an amazing group of people were, and I cannot begin to tell you my admiration for them as I look at the videos and pictures of the dogs lives. In fact, I had no knowledge of the case until about two months ago when one of the ladies who had been heavily involved in saving the dogs, contacted me.
Paula told me that she had had the dog now called Oreo, for a year, and was at her wits end because she felt that despite having been to a training ‘boot camp’, had the advice of multiple dog trainers and having poured her time, heart and soul into this dog, nothing was working.
She was every bit as skittish and disconnected as she had been on that day that she was rescued…the very last dog to be rescued due to her severe reaction to humans.
Anyone who has ever adopted a dog that is feral (has had no human contact to speak of, and is brought up among only dogs…hence a dog that is wild and undomesticated) knows the unique pain involved in such an endeavor.
It seems like every bit of love that you pour into these dogs goes unappreciated. Every time you try to touch them, to show them how they never have to worry about anything again their entire life, they run.
When you feed them, they look as if you’re going to beat them.
When you try to brush them, they snap and bare their teeth as if you’re brandishing a twelve inch knife.
Been there?
So have we…many times.
Not every feral dog is as difficult a case as a dog like Oreo, however, many of you out there in our DD family have taken in dogs like this thinking that you can ‘fix it wth love’ and been dismayed that it seems you can’t.
Actually you can…….you just need to come at the problem, with love, but from the empathy angle, instead of the anthropomorphic angle.
Basically, you have to put yourself in the dogs shoes and think about their journey, where they started from, not about where you want them to get to and what it is you want to give them.
And that’s what we have been doing with Oreo here at The DD Ranch, and having mum Paula follow on with this at home.
I explained to Paula that the first thing she needed to remember is that Oreo is a dog through and through. She has no had no domestication, thus has zero concept of human kindness, no concept of love or of caring; she only knows the ‘wild dog way’ of doing things. For her, that meant fighting for every inch of space, trying to get as far away from her fellow prisoners as possible, and seeing every other dog as a threat to her ability to get her needs taken care of.
This two legged human who brought her to her home looked just like the two legged human who didn’t give a damn about her, barely fed her, let her live in filth and who seemed to think it was fine that all the dogs fought. Oreo knew so little about reading human body language through lack of exposure, that she basically thought everyone was a problem, a threat, no matter what they did. Paula’s trying to love on her, or tempt her with food, or even teach her commands like you would a puppy, was as alien to her as someone just arrived from Saturn trying to figure out traffic lights.
My advice to Paula was to first off remove Oreo from all of her other dogs for as long as she could and find a living space where Oreo would be with humans only. Paula asked me why she should do this, seeing as Oreo had gotten along okay with all of her dogs up til this point?
I explained to her that any species will find comfort in familiarity, why would she need to learn how to be with humans if she’s with dogs all day, when being with dogs is all she has ever known?
Think how much faster you learn a foreign language when you are totally immersed in a culture and living in a foreign country, where there are no options to speak in your mother tongue?
Paula had shelled out a wad of money on an ‘immersion’ program for Oreo, however that was in a dog boarding facility where she was around other dogs all day, sleeping in a barren caged atmosphere next to other dogs, hearing them barking next to her and with limited exposure to humans. Pack walks and exercise were conducted by ‘pack leaders’ with all dogs wearing pinch collars to teach ‘good walking manners’. Yet another reason for Oreo to hate humans…….’they hurt me and stab me in the neck with this weird contraption when I’m just doing what comes naturally to me’.
At DD, we have a home from home arrangement, where dogs sleep in rooms with chairs, soft beds, soft lights and carpeting. This allows Oreo, all dogs actually, to get used to being in a proper home, so that when she gets eventually placed in a forever home she will understand what to do on a couch, will find pleasure in the softness of a bed and will appreciate the traction and soundproofing afforded by carpet.
Here, she is kept away from the other dogs……….she has not even met my totally perfect working pack. She boards in a quiet room in a separate wing, and only super calm dogs who don’t make a peep are allowed to be even near to her room.
She may not meet any other dogs but she sure gets a lot of human interaction……lots of times a day Oreo is leash walked for some of the time, and then is allowed on a trailing line to go and explore the fields, while we encourage her visually checking in often.
She is hand fed. We sit and go through human emotions every day, teaching her happy faces, sad faces, surprised faces, in response to her actions.
WE RARELY TALK TO HER.
Why? Because she’s got enough on her plate learning how to read the visual signals we put out, things your average puppy learns in the first few weeks of his or her life by being handled by lots of different people and by exposure to lots of different places. With puppies they have a critical period from between five and twelve weeks where we try and cram as much into them as possible, new people, trucks, cars, motorbikes, men with hats, children playing, grooming, nail clipping….you name it.
She had none of that. Nada. Zero.
So with Oreo, it’s a case of starting from day one as if she’s a puppy experiencing the world and it’s myriad inhabitants for the first time. Quietly, calmly and letting her take her time, because retraining away from fear is time consuming, slow and painstaking, just like it is with humans learning to overcome phobias.
She’s living in a world she doesn’t understand, and had no understanding of how even a house door works…so patience, understanding and going veeeerrrrrrrrrrry ssssssllllllooooooooooowwwwwwlllllllllyyy.
Yes, THAT slowly.
Leash walks are slow. Hand signals are slow. Feeding is slow. Speaking to her slowly is key. Exaggerated and protracted facial expressions are particularly useful.
She has felt like she’s been flung into an alternate universe at a million miles an hour, and she wants it all to slow down so she can watch and make sense of it all.
That’s what mum Paula, and we, are doing with her. And it’s working.
At first, we didn’t use food, we used the bonding element of walking with slow steady movements and just spending time together with no fast movements at all from her humans. Paula, or one of us, would just sit and ‘be’ with her in a comfortable place, asking nothing more than she be present and engage. Looks were rewarded with a smile, approaches were rewarded with a calm ‘good girl’ and a smile. This taught her that no one would be all over her like white on rice, so she could feel comfortable to maybe explore the relationship option (and that’s the key word here, option…she chose, it wasn’t forced upon her) in her own time. Me, Pete, Doug, Kathy, Marilyn, several visitors to the Ranch, have all done it this way. It’s made her realize that there’s nothing to fear from a relationship wth humans.
Lately, we have started to use food, to up the ante, to let her know that on top of trusting people, she can expect really good things from them.
Today, we hit a new milestone in our journey. She was gently leash walked by Mandy Dysart, one of our valued Frankie and Andy’s Place volunteers, and then greedily accepted being hand fed chicken tenders as Mandy smiled and spoke softly and happily to her.
Her responses are changing, her need for human interaction is increasing and she now is starting to see the value of this human/animal bond. Not with us just as food providers, but as companions and caretakers.
She is a lighter being than she was, and it is a delight to see her change. Of course there are always set backs, life is full of surprises and there’s always some idiot just round the corner who ‘knows everything there is to know about dogs’, and who will insist on approaching her and patting her head before you’ve even had chance to move her away or say ‘Noooooooooooo!’
I wanted to share this with you today, as so many people have asked me about the work we are doing with Oreo, because they’ve got their own problem dogs like her at home. If you do, then please take it slow, see the world from the dogs eyes, and remember that the longer the process, the more ingrained it will be. Crash courses are no substitute for ingrained experiences.
Good luck, and have a lovely weekend.
Xx

Oh No You Di’nt

www.desperatedogsusa.com Penny jpeg

I was at a friends house the other day, visiting with her and the family, and about ten minutes into my visit, one of her kids asked for a drink of water. Then the other one wanted an apple because he was hungry after soccer practice. Then they started playing and laughing, as I looked in astonished at their behavior. I didn’t give their mother a moment to even open her mouth, I immediately shouted at them,
” What the hell are you bothering your mother for? Leave her alone ! Don’t make so much noise while you’re playing ! Play silently ! Can’t you see grown ups are talking ?”
The kids started to cry and so I shouted at them even louder, making sure I had my say before their mother responded to them. Bloody kids……..how dare they open their mouth while I’m talking? What could they possibly have to say?
Rude, cruel and ridiculous right ? You want to slap me straight in the face for saying this don’t you?
So imagine how I felt when not once, but TWICE last week, male clients dropping off dogs to come and stay with us felt it was okay to shout at dogs who were in my field barking.
The dogs were happy at being at the Ranch, excited to see all the new deliveries of just-as-excited incoming dogs, and were wagging tails furiously at the fence in anticipation. That is, until some ‘Fun Sponge’ with a misguided sense of human superiority opened their mouth and started yelling at them. I was so angry I could spit, and let both men know that right off the bat, but it did also start me thinking about how many humans think it’s okay to just bark and scream at their dogs and oh so wrongly think that that’s a valid form of communication. So I thought I’d just clear a couple of things up…..

1) Dogs don’t pay more attention to you the louder you shout, unless there is a very real panic in your voice that is based on imminent danger.

2) Dogs view anyone who has to vocalize to be heard as the equivalent of a yappy dog, one of the lower members of the pack. True leadership figures in any dog pack are always cool, calm, benevolent and wise. They lead by example and with actions.

3) If you start screaming at a barking dog, he does not understand that you wish him to be quiet, he merely thinks you’re joining in the barking, which raises his level of excitement, causing him to bark even more. Hmmm, good move, how’s that working for you ?

4) Your level of impatience with a happily barking dog tells me so much more about you than you’d be comfortable with.

The Ranch is a place of calm and peace, broken only by the occasional sound of happy barks and yips. We like it that way, we spend thousands of dollars making the Ranch the kind of place that dogs are happy in, and yes, feel comfortable enough to express themselves in, however they choose to. It’s a freedom ranch for dogs, not a military style training establishment.

So here’s the deal, don’t come and shout at my guests in MY HOME, and I won’t come and shit on your lawn.

Christmas 2015 Appeal

Everyone should be with their loved ones at Christmas
For these poor dogs at Barrow County Animal Shelter in rural Georgia, that seems like an impossible dream.
Unless someone sees beyond the fear, unless someone takes a chance on them, many will not make it to see Christmas as the shelter is full.
Look at these beautiful babies, look into their eyes, see their hope, see their souls…. Aren’t these lives worth saving?

This Isn’t An Easy Request To Make ……….

Joe Jake St

“This isn’t an easy request to make.

I have given it some serious thought and wondered if you would like my children?

You see, when we decided to take the plunge and get pregnant, we didn’t realize that they were going to need so much time and money. Now they’ve been around a while, it’s been quite a few years now, we have totted up all of the costs and come to the realization that it’s been an awful lot of expense and that it’s not all been a bed of roses really…
We just thought that you when you had a baby, you cuddled him a lot, he was always going to be grateful for you being a nice person that cared about him, and then he grew up without needing much other than food and a roof over his head and hugs and stuff, you know what I mean, like they do in the movies.
Discovering that each of our kids needed to be constantly educated, needed money, needed guidance and discipline that’s loving and fair when sometimes we were seething inside, well…..it’s been a bit of a shock.

Sometimes they get a bit moody, especially if we don’t spend any time with them, and they’re both very rude when we have guests over if I don’t have time to do stuff with them that day, ya know, like take them to the park to play or to do play dates at their friends houses and stuff and thats just really annoying. Oh and one of them is always getting sick…I lose count of the times he’s had to go to the doctors. It’s really expensive, you know, medical bills. We wanted to buy a new car this year, but now we can’t because of the co-pays, it’s crippling us. We may not even be able to take a second vacation or decorate.
We are very sociable people, though, we love our friends to come over and have dinner and drinks with us, and we don’t like it that the kids won’t just sit there on the couch quietly and watch TV all night and let us have some fun. It’s only a couple of nights a week after all…so anyway, we sat and talked about it and realized that life was just a lot easier before we had them, they don’t really fit into our lives anymore.

We want to move to a smaller house so we don’t have as many overheads, and there probably wouldn’t be room for them. We also didn’t want to have to have a yard to mow anymore, and you know, my kids, they just love their swing set, so our house wouldn’t fit their needs anymore.
Of course, we have made mistakes as parents, and in some ways we have even joked that we have kind of messed our kids up by being the kind of parents we are. We weren’t ever any good at discipline or consistency, that kind of thing. We’re kind of busy people, always got a lot of stuff going on, who has that kind of time to put into their kids?
Oh, but I just know you’d love my kids, because you’re a really good mother with your own kids, and you have lots of time for them so….would you consider adopting them? Oh and by the way, I do REALLY love my kids, they mean the world to me. It’s just, well, you know, like I said, they don’t fit the lifestyle we want anymore.”

Hideous isn’t it? You want to call DEFACS so badly don’t you? What kind of a person would be so self absorbed?
Who would even think about asking that of anyone?
Turns out, three people this month already. Only…they weren’t talking about their human kids, they were talking about their four legged children. Dogs that had been valuable and loving members of their family for years, who had grown with their human children, been a shoulder to cry on during ill health and bad times. No longer valuable because they have gotten older and maybe occasionally poop in the house, or gotten grouchy when there’s a mass of visitors in the home and they just want to be left alone…so much easier to just dump them eh? Instead of working around the dogs changing needs?

To all of the DD family who understand the true nature of the terms ‘love’, ‘family’ and ‘commitment’, I salute you. To those who don’t, I’d like to share a word or two from the Big Guy…

“Love is patient, love is kind……..it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (First Corinthians 13; v.4 &7)
Being a good and loving parent isn’t just about the good times, it’s a forever position, no matter how many legs your kids have.

You Can Tell A Man Who Boozes By The Company He Chooses

Acceptable play at the Desperate Dogs Ranch

Acceptable play at the Desperate Dogs Ranch

From time to time we ask a client to stop allowing their dogs to play with whatever dog it is that they regularly play with and to maybe have a complete break from other dogs for a while.
This suggestion is almost always greeted with abject horror……” But he LOVES playing with Pookie”/ “But it’s my sisters dog! They play together every day, they run and chase and wrestle while we have coffee”/ “But he won’t walk well on a leash so if he doesn’t run in my friends yard, he doesn’t get any exercise!”
Yup, we have heard all of the above proclamations, however, it doesn’t mean that the dog should be playing with THAT particular dog, just because he likes to, or indeed because it suits the humans needs.
Last month, a dog came to visit after an absence of three months.
When the owner came to pick him up after his last visit, I asked if this dog could have no play with other dogs at all for a minimum of six weeks, as he was playing too hard and needed to go cold turkey for a period of time. I explained that rough play can be injurious not just to himself, but to other dogs. And by injurious, I don’t just mean physically…..sometimes just the possibility of a dog bumping into him or her can send any dog into a fearful state, causing them to tense, withdraw, hunch their body, flee or snap! All of which are obviously not good either psychologically or physically. Stress is the foundation of lots of nasty issues in dogs, just as it is in humans.
The dog in question, who we shall name Fido (I really wanted to use a picture of him and black out the eyes dramatically to maintain his anonymity for a giggle but Uncle Pete said I needed to get a life…!) is a really nice dog actually. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, loves to play, run and chase and is very very loving with all humans.
However, if we have a young or very athletic dog dog here, he ups his game and wants to start wrestling…..and then escalates, and escalates.

We don’t allow wrestling between dogs…..we allow physical play of course, but we keep a watchful eye to make sure that it doesn’t descend into a full fledged wrestle, as that is very often a heart beat away from a dog feeling he needs to prove himself and taking it too far. A little like two human friends jostling each other in the shoulder for giggles and grins, but then one getting hurt and smacking the other full on with a real punch. Very often those situations become proper fist fights between humans…..and that’s how it can work with dogs too.

So, back to Fido…..I asked his Mum if she could stop letting him play with whichever dog it was that he was playing with so often as he needed to get out of some nasty habits.
I also suggested that she tell the other dogs owner to stop her dog from playing with other dogs too, so that both dogs got a six week break or more if possible from all other dogs, and instead learned to play some gentle, non physical games using toys and activities instead. And that after the break, they just have supervised walks together with no rough play so that they could both take this out of their play toolbox completely. She assured me she would do that, no problem, and so we booked him in for his next stay on that proviso.
Unfortunately, an hour after she had dropped him off for his last stay here, I could see that this had not happened…… Fido was like a bull in a china shop, going straight in to tackle Hoss to the ground the moment he saw him, and, while Hoss is a big dog who can take a lot, even he yelped out. Next, he jumped on poor old Colin’s back and tried to aggressively hump Ava. He had no sense of boundaries at all, and just saw every dog as a rag doll to play with as he saw fit.
To that end, we kept a cautionary string tied to his collar for every play session, we only put him with dogs that wouldn’t tolerate his behavior and would teach him some boundaries, and then sidelined him into a separate play area on his own when we had a large group that could all play together.
We never ever put the good of one dog against the good of many…..if a dog is a pain in the rear end, the other dogs expect us to take care of it, to take measures to ensure that they don’t have to put up with that nonsense…and rightly so.
There used to be an old poem that my mum recited all the time when we were kids, and if anyone knows the rest of it, please tell me, but the main line of it is “You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses.”
With a dog, you can very easily tell the kind of company he regularly keeps by watching his play style. A dog who plays very hard and wrestles profusely, is a dog that has practiced this regularly with another dog, perfecting the art of hard physical play with every visit. Those dogs are so caught up in physicality, they very often never ever learn to use their head in their interactions with other dogs, the physicality gets in the way. Such a shame. It’s like only teaching your child to play soldiers and never opening his world up to the beauty of the written word.
By contrast, a dog who plays occasionally with a calm, easy going dog, engaging in activities that don’t require them to be all up in each other’s business, will learn boundaries and respect for another dogs space.
Surround your dog with the kind of company you’d like him or her to emulate, and you have a far greater chance of your dog being the kind of dog you want him to be. Top of the list should be lots of interaction with respectful, calm, pleasant humans………and then respectful, calm, pleasant dogs.
Enjoy this beautiful weather folks and don’t forget to let your dog play in the leaves!