Ten years ago, he would have been the only love of my life, but now Frank the dog’s relegated to fur-d class citizen around here. (Get it? “Fur”-d instead of “third”? Because he’s a dog, you see, and he has fur?) This is the quick and sandy tail (ok… I’ll stop) of how this neurotic 70 lb pooch-extravaganza entered our lives.
In the summer of 2009, Eleanor was 3 months old and my beloved mutt Wilbur had to be put down because of a large tumor in his stomach. Mark’s inclination was to wait and get another dog either in the spring or when Eleanor was old enough to really get excited by a puppy. But… 1 week into an empty house and I started ‘casually’ perusing Petfinder.com. I like the idea of a rescue animal and have always had pound puppies, but given our young (and hopefully growing) family, we couldn’t be quite as casual about the type/ breed of dog we selected. I figured any dog in the lab realm would probably be pretty great with children, and I also figured that we didn’t need to a puppy to housetrain so I was going to look into a young ( already housetrained) lab-ish rescue.
Which is how I stumbled across All About Labs (AAL). After submitting my application to AAL, Donna called me so we could chat more about our canine needs. (I think I sent Donna a Christmas card up until last year… she was the best.) She ran through the rescues they had on hand, and talked me through all of their personalities. Yes, she knew about every single one of these dogs! And then she sent this picture:
How could we say no to a face like this?! She had a rough explanation for why Frank was up for adoption (previous owners had a landlord that wouldn’t allow dogs…). I think Mark and I both agree that this is maybe 20% of the truth for why he was up for adoption, but we also felt that it’s in AAL’s best interest to fairly represent these pooches and their dispositions! Incidentally, AAL takes care of all vaccines and shots, and sets up transportation all over the country…
Skip ahead a couple of weeks to October 3, 2009. “Tank”- who we renamed Frank- was en route from Arkansas ready for his Smith Family introduction. With the sunrise in the distance, we headed over the George Washington bridge to meet the transport truck and the newest member of our family.
This was the somewhat nervous face who greeted us when we pulled in! Half golden retriever, half yellow lab… or so they say.
From the very get go, Frank settled right in. He couldn’t have been sweeter with Eleanor.
Often a little too sweet…
And she immediately adored him!
The early days with Frank weren’t without the occasional threat to return him to Arkansas… in his first few weeks with us he chewed a pair of Mark’s prescription glasses, ate through my brand new UGG boots, and gnawed on our bookshelf. (Full circle, I’m now trying to sell said bookshelf on Craigslist and have to declare the tooth marks in the item description…)
We quickly learned that the ‘some’ barking mentioned by Donna was in fact quite a lot of barking. We tried the citronella spray, the positive reinforcement, and mellowing herbs (suntheonine). Nada. This was what we attempted when we moved to Brooklyn and he was barking at every footstep outside the apartment (I think he was so embarrassed that he quieted down just so we would take it off).
Now that we’re in the suburbs, the barking has actually gotten much better, so Frank’s another member of the family thrilled to be away from the city (I’m the urban-loving minority in our house).
At the ripe ol’ age of 4, Frank is mellowing out a bit as he moves from puppy adolescence to young adulthood. He doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves, but he gets plenty of extra doggie treats…
he spends plenty of time catching up on his beauty rest…
and he gets plenty of running room.
He has three siblings who crawl all over him, stick their grimy hands in his mouth and giggle uncontrollably when he sneaks in the occasional lick. And despite Frank’s overzealous vocal cords, our five person crew wouldn’t be the same without our #1 pup!