I have wanted to adopt a dog from the Chinese meat trade for about 2 years now. I support several rescues in China and wanted to make a difference to one dogs life even if I can't stop this evil trade.
I had followed Frankie's journey from the beginning and knew when we applied to adopt her that she was a very nervous girl but utterly gorgeous with those big puppy dog eyes. After our unsuccessful application for Faith, we applied for Frankie, I never thought we had a chance as she was a gorgeous girl with a lot of admirers, but we were so pleased when Lesley called me to say we could have her. We were warned she was very nervous but as we would discover, she was far more traumatised than we could even imagine.
We picked her up on 16th May, she was very underweight and looked petrified of us, we had never seen a dog so truly terrified, after a few hours drive we arrived home with her. We opened up her carry case and she shot out and hid behind the table, this became one of her safe hiding places. She still has a safe bed behind the sofa even now, she retreats there growling and barking if we have anyone to visit, this is something we are working on with a dog behaviourist at the moment.
At first we couldn't get close to her without a struggle, we kept a long lead attached to aid this, a tip I picked up online, she didn't mind walking around the garden on a long lead and really enjoyed being outside, she loved to run. These first weeks were very hard, especially for me as I was her main carer, but now we are best friends, she follows me everywhere
She is very food driven so it was easy to fatten her up to her 12kg ideal weight! Such a little chunk to carry up and down the stairs!
Thankfully Maisie and Scarlett accepted her straight away, I think as she was so nervous, she was no threat to them. Maisie and Frankie are the best of friends now, they love a game of chase around the garden or house - oh and they love to bark and chase the squirrels together a real bonding experience!
There was a few times where I thought maybe we had done the wrong thing adopting her. She was just so petrified of us all, especially the men in the house and it made us wonder if we were the right fit for her, it seemed like one step forward and two steps backwards. I already have experience of a nervous dog and a rescue cat so knew a bit, but I don't think anything could have prepared us for how scared Frankie was.
Like many rescue dogs from China, Frankie is much more wary of men. She barked and growled at my husband and son for months, I wondered if we would ever have a breakthrough, we tried so many things without success. We took her for her 1st holiday at the end of August, it was when she was out of familiar surroundings that my husband got to stroke her, she hasn't looked back since She accepted my son as soon as we got home too.
She let Saskia and I touch her face after a few weeks, but she was still very wary, we can't imagine the things she has suffered to become like this and be so distrusting of people. Its baby steps, tiny little things we try everyday to gain her confidence, it took me many weeks to be able to stroke her back, just trying to stroke a little bit further everyday. She is working on kisses at the moment, shes becoming slowly more relaxed about it, even sticking her nose straight in your face now for attention!
Despite all her trauma, she is the most sweet and loving dog, always wanting attention we are so happy she finally feels comfortable to show us this side of her!
Toilet training was a challenge, my poor rug deserves a medal! We got there in the end though, Maisie and Scarlett helped a lot, she's picked up a lot of their habits. She now scratches at the door to go outside, we are so proud of her she copied Scarlett who does the same. She doesn't mind the wet weather, must be the basset in her, she definitely has a basset bark too, I was very surprised when she finally found her big deep voice. She sounds a lot larger than she is!
Frankie still has a way to go though, so please don't think a traumatised dog can be 'normal' in a few months, she may never be, unfortunately there is no magic wand. We are taking baby steps and although she's happy in the house, outside of the house is a different story. Walking her in areas with other people is difficult as she is triggered by a lot of things. She really is scared of people (especially men and children), cars, bikes, trains, pushchairs/wheelchairs and walking sticks, but she does love all other dogs and is never reactive in that sense. I'm hoping it will get better, and we are working on this too with the dog behaviourist.
It's been very rewarding seeing her grow in confidence and learn that she can love and trust us, she now enjoys snuggles on the sofa, belly tickles and playing with us, a totally different dog from the one we collected back in May. We can't imagine life without her now and know we made the right decision for us and her after all!
I've been training Frankie, she will sit now and lie down. We are getting much better at 'no' and 'wait', especially when it's dinner time, she would eat everyone's dinner she is a clever girl, she picks things up very quickly and has fallen into our routine fast. My son said she is a furry battering ram, always eager to be there first and at the front, she sends poor Maisie flying sometimes, she forgets she is twice her weight!
To sum it all up, adopting a dog like Frankie is not to be taken lightly, she was a full time job for quite a few months, much more work than having a puppy even! she is much easier now and can be left for a short time, but her nervousness is still something we have to consider everytime we take her out and leave the house. All that said, it's 7 months now and we absolutely love her to bits, we couldn't imagine life without her now, and we are very much looking forward to her 1st Christmas. We look forward to many happy years with her and are so grateful to everyone who donated to save her life and get her here.