Part of our dedication to everything Dog comes in the form of our charity work and community outreach. We learn so much from implementing our pay it forward ethic, that we truly believe it would be impossible to do the things we do without our passion for helping others. If you or someone you know would like to help or get involved with one of our charity projects, feel free to let us know via our contact forms.
“We had a dream…..
A dream about a place where age wasn’t regarded as a handicap……instead, it was celebrated.
A dream about a place where humans could help to save senior dogs…and senior dogs could save humans right back.
A dream about a place where the values of yesteryear… empathy, respect, love and most importantly, time…..would be practiced and celebrated.
A place where giving back meant receiving so much more…….
All of these things were on our minds when we conceived Frankie and Andys Place.
Years of working in rescue and volunteering in shelters, seeing dogs who had been saved…and yet who lived in what was effectively a prison.
One particular dog in a local shelter many years ago caught my eye. A beautiful blue merle Great Dane who had been tied to a tree with no food and water, left in his backyard to die when his owners upped and moved home. ‘Rescued’ and taken to the local shelter, there he sat for months on the stone cold floor, chain link and bars preventing him from escaping…. never getting a walk, never feeling grass beneath his feet or feeling the sunshine on his face…..not even a blanket to soften his sleep. The stress of confinement made him very sick, he got a terrible upper respiratory disease that almost killed him. He stopped eating, stopped drinking and hung his head, just waiting to be free from the pain, the prison..from his life.
I thought to myself ‘Why was he saved, if only to live like this? Wouldn’t it have been kinder to put him down?’
I vowed to myself that one day, I would open a shelter for dogs where everything was different. It made no sense to me that shelters want these dogs to get adopted and go into wonderful forever homes, and yet there is no ‘training ground’ for that. They go into their new home sometimes never having seen a chair, or a rug or a lamp, and so of course they don’t understand that carpet isn’t grass to be peed on, that a chair isn’t a climbing frame and a lamp isn’t some weird alien life force! When they react (quite appropriately for their species) to such things, they get returned to the shelter….’How ungrateful! Take him back! We rescued him and he ate our couch!’ Surely if shelters were more like home, not only would the dog be calmer, quieter, but the pervasive sound of stress induced barking would be gone, enticing more people to spend time there…and maybe, just maybe…. more dogs would get adopted? Just a thought…….
As a behaviorist, I have always believed that dogs need a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. I actually believe that every single living thing needs a purpose, and I felt that part of the misery that I was seeing was not just hopelessness, but also a sense of worthlessness.
It is also one of my core beliefs that no matter how hard life may seem to you, there’s always someone else who could use a friend more, and that in the act of giving of our time to others to heal their pain, our own problems diminish, then they simply disappear.
Frankie and Andys Place is an amalgamation of all of those beliefs.
The senior dogs, many of whom gave years of service to their owners, only to be cruelly tossed aside in later years when newly installed white carpets, kids activities became more important; are all chosen from kill shelters or from local rescues.
All wonderful dogs who thought that they were going to have a comfy retirement with their ‘loving’ family, the shelter was not only terrifying for them, but they always seemed to ask the question ‘What did I do to deserve this? I was a good dog, I was well behaved, I never hurt anyone, I just got a bit slower and a little creaky….how did this happen to me?’
We take their paws in our hands, look deep into their eyes and whisper to them ‘Don’t worry….. to us you are perfect and beautiful, we value everything you’ve learned in your long years and we will honor you. You’re coming home to paradise and you can stay with us forever if you want to’.
They sleep on soft couches, there are rugs on the floors just like home, there is always a big pot of deliciously rich meat stew simmering away on the stove for breakfast and dinner….there are no cages, no concrete. The yard is open access, there is a beautiful lawn where they can sit and take in the sun with all of their new pals, shady trees abound and the birdsong is the only sound you’ll hear. And the result is…peace.
No shelter stress, no fearful dogs with panicked looks, no frantic sprints to the gate where they anxiously seek their owners. There is just harmony, calm and a pervading sense of happiness.
Once they are healed, either emotionally or physically, we take them out into the community, or we bring the community to them, so that they can ‘work’.
They visit the physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, seniors in assisted living who aren’t allowed a pet, the depressed, the lonely….anyone who needs them. The ladies who accompany the dogs on their ‘mission trips’ constantly tell us how the trips are the highlight of their week, when they themselves get to give back, and to get the high that only comes from altruism. These incredible dogs sit patiently on or with whoever needs them and allow themselves to be held, petted, talked to…they share moments with people who needs to be with someone who won’t ask any questions and won’t judge them.
Volunteers come to the cabin ostensibly to take care of the dogs, but they’ll all admit that its really the dogs who are taking care of them…..it doesn’t matter what the problem is, a spell at the cabin eases stress and swells hearts.
The dogs feel valued, they are celebrated even, as we watch the incredible gifts of healing that they possess mend hearts and minds over and over, and over again.
Those who were once dejected are now strong, those who felt valueless are now repurposed, those who were cast aside are now totally confident and revel in the love that everyone feels for them.
For the humans who visit, the change is astonishing too.
We have heard stories of blood pressure lessening, of volunteers being able to stop taking depression medications after just a few months of ‘cabin therapy’. One of our favorite volunteers saw the cabin as her refuge, her ‘happy place’ throughout the years she was dealing with her father as he battled Alzheimer’s, and she battled sleepless nights, his night terrors, his hallucinations……..the cabin was her recharge/refresh button. Even though her father has now passed, she still comes to the cabin every week so that she can help others who may be suffering in some way.
A small community has now grown around what is now two log cabins, a community of carers who see themselves as family, and exist to support each other and anyone else who needs them.
And what of the poor dog in the shelter that day?
Why, my friends, that was Frankie!
He got adopted by us that day, in order to get him out of that awful place, and three months later met the love of his life, Penny Andrews, who adopted him and instantly partnered with us in our quest to save as many dogs as possible.
Andy, a kindly lab mix with soft brown eyes who was always willing to lend a helping paw to fearful dogs he met, was his very best friend, and together they formed the bedrock of this organization, guiding us and showing us what dogs really want, and what gifts of love they bestow…if we only open ourselves up to possibilities.
Although both recently passed, they rest under the bamboo just in front of the original cabin and serve as a daily reminder of all that’s important in life……love, respect, empathy and time.
Always time….the greatest gift of them all”
To find out more about this awesome cause click HERE
And click HERE to meet the Frankie and Andy’s residents