This 7 part article series received a DWAA nomination, February 2013!
I have been wanting to sit down and write this for a long time, long time as in years. It’s still very much a relationship in the present, but it is the past that I have been thinking about. I haven’t been able to find my voice with this particular story until very recently. In all fairness, this is Franny’s story to tell. If she could put pen to paper it would be a definitive guide for dog handlers. I will do my best to tell this story with the unapologetic and raw manner in which she lives.
Each post will include part of our story together, what I learned, the training/teaching, or totally misguided blunders that I implemented. I have no idea how many parts there will be in this series, again this is the first time I have felt open enough to write about it.
We had just experienced extreme loss, the kind of loss where it feels like the carpet is pulled out from under you, and you find your self in mid air knowing you are going to crash, and crash hard. I couldn’t seem to function on any type of normal level during the day, and yet I was managing to take care of two young children, my babies. I knew I needed to do something to heal my heart, take a deep breath, see with clear eyes again, but was at a loss for what.
Animals have always, literally always, been a part of my life. It is my connection to this world in some way. I feel myself, grounded, and free when I am around other living beings. It’s not that I dislike my own species, on the contrary, it’s just that the non human speaking beings and I seem to understand each other on a different level. Does that make sense?
So I started looking for a dog, at shelters, private rescues, on the street, and in the paper. Everyday I would take my babies and we would go to look and visit. It was hard to really see and get to know any of them through swollen tear soaked eyes though. I know most of the shelter workers at the time pitied me, which I hated, I didn’t want there sympathy, I wanted to feel better again, a connection again.
About a month into this daily search I saw a dog, one who had apparently been there the whole time, but one I had never noticed. It’s almost like one day my blurry vision cleared and there she was. Relaxed, laying down against the fence, soft eyes, and seemingly unaware of the bleak prospect of living at the shelter. I bent down and put my finger through the fence and she very gently licked it, just once, and then looked at me. In my heart I knew she needed me!
When I went to ask about adopting her, I was informed there were three families that had submitted paper work for her, a waiting list of sorts. I totally understood why. So I continued my search. Two weeks later I saw that she was still there, and again went and asked. She was available, the families who had applied weren’t approved for some reason. I simply said, and I remember this so clearly, I want her. Twenty minutes later I walked out with a dog named Fran. I have no idea why they didn’t make me wait, or fill out the extensive forms, perhaps they were happy that the crying lady finally found a dog?
As soon as she jumped in my car I realized on some deep level that she didn’t need me at all, I was simply an accomplice in a jail break. I knew I was in for something, but didn’t quite understand the scope of what life now had in store for me.