The Story of Frank

IMG_0004.JPG

Frank, the face of Frank & Co. Photography, is my two year old 120lb German Shepherd rescue.

After a heartbreaking summer of losing all three dogs to old age and a failed emergency surgery, I started visiting shelters and rescues to slowly begin testing the waters of adopting again. While spending the week at a cabin in Bayfield, WI, it was suggested that I maybe check out the nearby animal shelter. The day I showed up to Chequamegon Humane Association they were closed for weekly maintenance but the staff knew I would be coming in from out of town and agreed to let me have some time to meet with the animals. That was also the day Frank showed up, unexpectedly. He had been through a really rough start in life already: physically abused by his first owner, fostered by his second owner, sent to a nearby prison program that rehabilitates behaviorally challenged dogs, adopted out to a heroine addict, sent back to the prison program, and then returned to CHA where they knew he would deteriorate rapidly and would soon have to be put down. When I showed up to the shelter, the staff was stressed and panicked over what to do with him. They knew he had so much potential but just hadn’t been given an opportunity to show it yet. German Shepherd rescues were unable to get to him in time and no one had stepped up to foster him.

The minute I laid eyes on him, I fell in love. I knew I was wanting a bigger dog (he’s technically classified as a “giant breed") and I had been fixated on German Shepherd mixes for some reason (there are SO many to be found in shelters and rescues) but until then, I was still trying to determine if I was ready to adopt again. Knowing Frank’s inevitable fate if I did not take him home weighed heavily on me for the next 24 hours. After spending significant time with him at CHA and learning about his past and his needs moving forward, I returned to the cabin to deliberate. I called my vet, a trainer, friends, neighbors, my family, all looking for advice on what to do. I had other animals in my home to consider. And was I really equipped to take this on by myself? He was a BIG dog with trust issues and a deeply rooted fear of strangers. I was a stranger.

Regardless, I knew what I had to do because I knew what the alternative was and I could not let that happen on my watch. After a sleepless night and on an empty stomach, I returned the next day to adopt him, at which point he was already showing signs of mental and emotional deterioration. We carefully got him into my car, took precautions for his safety and mine, and together he and I made the five hour drive back down to Minneapolis.

The minute he walked into my house later that night, everything changed. The way he looked at me, the gentle curious nature he showed my cats (from a very controlled safe distance), the way he’d lean his body into mine when in the backyard, we had nearly instantaneously became connected in a way I had never experienced with any of my other dogs. All of the issues I was told to expect mostly washed away (however, there are still some things that will need continuous management).

After a summer of tragedy and heartbreak, desperate to fill a void but apprehensive to do so, the final decision was ultimately made for me.