The adventures of Frankie
Frankie was nearly 15 years old when he died, a Boykin spaniel, the state dog of South Carolina.
Frankie’s story begins near Charleston, South Carolina, where he was born. He was a cute, personable puppy. His original name was Woodrow; I renamed him because I got him on the day Frank Sinatra died. He had been returned to the breeder after 10 days because he was frightened when a shotgun was fired. [Boykin’s are hunting dogs.] Frankie came home on a plane; our fellow passengers gave him a lot of attention while airborne.
Frankie was paired with Sampson, our Vizla. Sam’s first encounter with Frankie is still memorable. Sampson lay across from Frankie and pattered with his front paws. Frankie tried to repeat it. Sam seemed to repeat it over and over again until nodding in approval when Frankie repeated the pattern as he was teaching him.
Frankie and Sam were a comedy show. I remember when Sam showed Frankie how to get out of my T-top Camaro. I caught Sam jumping out of the parked car and Frankie sliding down the car door. Their bond was undeniable. When Frankie was about two years old, on the way to the groomers, the pet taxi he and Sam were in was in an accident. No one was harmed, but a loud noise occurred. The driver got Sam to sit down and when Frankie was let out of the car he ran across a busy road into a forested area.
For two and a half days we searched for him. An animal control officer tracked Frankie. He had bedded down with a deer herd and ran with them. On a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon in December, a party of eight people went out to look for him with Sam. As the sun was setting Sam began to howl, and out of a patch of thick overgrowth Frankie ran out of the woods and ran to Sam. What a relief!
Many years after that experience, I held Sam in my arms when he passed naturally. Frankie lay next to him, loyal to his rescuer, his friend. Within 36 hours, Frankie had a stress reaction to Sam’s death, severe ulcerative colitis. To Frankie, losing Sam’s presence, losing his canine companion, was instrumental to his canine distress.
About two weeks later, Nanook, a seven-year-old blue-eyed Siberian Husky came to live with Frankie. She lay next to him; Nanook’s presence eased his distressed spirit. For the first time, Frankie became the alpha. Nanook followed him; she seemed to be nurturing toward him. A few years later, when Nanook died he lay next to her. When we found the two of them together, Nanook seemed to be sleeping. And, repeatedly, after her death, he would lay on the patio, as if awaiting her return.
After Nanook’s death, Frankie came to work with me. I am a licensed Social Worker, a psychotherapist. It had been years for me that a dog worked alongside of me in the counseling office as an emotional supportive dog therapy aide. My clients and Frankie adapted to one another very quickly. He was a character, barking while wagging his stubby tail at a client.
He was a great asset to me. He seemed to sense their feelings and their struggles with the suffering in their lives and would comfort them with looks and snuggles. Many of my clients cried when learning that he died just shortly before New Year’s 2013. Frankie actually worked at my counseling office until the day before he died.
His picture hangs on a wall in the office along with a dedicated prayer. He taught me a lot about being versatile, adaptable, unconditionally loving, resilient, and having a place in the world.
~ The adventures of Frankie was written by Frankie’s loving companion, Neil Cervera.