Francesca arrived at the Sanctuary in 2016. It wasn't long before caregivers discovered that this pretty girl with delicate white feet was a bit more complicated than she first appeared. It would take the combined efforts of Dogtown caregivers and the vet team to help unravel the tangle of behaviors that made Franny different.
Francesca is very smart. She quickly and easily learns new tricks and cues. That is a really great trait because one of Franny’s challenges is a very short attention span — strangely short.
While this was worrisome and sometimes frustrating, what was never in question was her ability to love people. She bonded so tightly to her caregivers that she ignored other people entirely, or (especially if that person was a potential adopter) she'd spooky bark and try to make the friendly stranger leave.
Getting to the root of these behaviors was key to helping Francesca get a home of her own.
First on the agenda was to try to figure out if her short attention span was medical, behavioral or both. In Franny's case, it is both. At some point, she suffered a brain injury — just a slight one, but one that makes it difficult for her to focus. Now that she's on some behavior medications, Franny is able to maintain focus longer and actually settle herself down.
Next came her reluctance to interact with new people. A training plan was developed at Dogtown where volunteers and visitors worked with Franny. The plan included making her confident enough to go for a walk with volunteers and teaching her how to make friends when new people visited her run.
Recently I made friends with Franny. After a couple low woofs, she relaxed enough to accept treats and then invited me to play fetch. She is lightning fast, so my throwing arm had a good workout. The intense play never overpowered her gentle nature. She took treats like a dream and accepted petting on her chest. To my surprise and delight, she even rested by sprawling out within arm’s reach on a shady patch of sand.
Franny is still quirky. But what were large obstacles a short time ago are manageable and (better yet) understood. And that understanding and empathy make all the difference. The work to help Francesca has been done thoughtfully and with so much love that a framework is in place for her to have an amazing life as a superb family companion. Franny will always need a little extra help to keep her safe and comfortable in this fast-moving world, but she is absolutely worth it.