Miss Fanny Wiggles, My Girl

It’s very hard for me to talk about my dog, Frankie.

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But while I don’t talk about him, he is constantly on my heart; I see him everywhere.

Losing him and the way we lost him truly leveled me and to be honest, I don’t know that there will ever come a day that my heart doesn’t ache for him or when I will remember him and not hurt to my core. I’ve heard from other people who have lost a dog the way we did who say that there will come a day when I can talk about him and smile, remembering the love and not the pain.

To be clear, my tears are not for Frankie. I know he had a great life. It was just much, much too short. He never suffered; he always knew he was loved. I cry because I miss him and I wish so desperately that I could have saved him, and I will forever wonder if something I did or didn’t do caused him to act the way he did. When I’m strong enough, I plan to examine that question deeply so that I can learn from it and let it go.

All through my last days with him, I promised myself—never again. I would never love a dog like this. I couldn’t bear the possibility that it could come to this again.

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A month after Frankie’s death, I traveled with my son Ian to Tennessee. It had been Ian’s idea, a trip we’d been planning, and instead of canceling it I decided that I would travel south to help dogs in Frankie’s name. I couldn’t save him, but maybe I could help other dogs.

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It was a very hard trip in so many ways. We saw some of the most desperate situations I’d seen. One of the saddest situations I’ve ever seen in the thirty-seven shelter/rescue visits I’ve done, was where I met Fanny.

She was emaciated, her coat a dull brown and crusted with feces, her eyes so sad they brought tears to my own.

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As I helped Trisha to test her for heartworm, treat her for fleas, and deworm her, I was humbled by her joy at our attentions. She wiggled and smiled and wagged her tail endlessly.

And my heart leapt. I wanted to scoop her up and put her in the car and drive far, far away. I remember looking back at our car, parked on the gravel outside the fence and visualizing doing just that. But I told myself, This is just you trying to fill the hole Frankie left. No more dogs.

There were three other dogs there that day that we treated, but it was only Fanny I couldn’t get out of my mind or off my heart as we drove away.

Trisha promised to go back to get Fanny (she called her Mocha because of her dull brown coat) and the other three dogs suffering in the Huntingdon Pound. The pounds in western Tennessee, are much like the pounds I remember from my childhood. Cold, hard places where dogs are ‘impounded’ by dogcatchers. Dogcatchers are not Animal Control Officers. They are not trained professionals; their job is simply to round up stray dogs. At the Huntingdon Pound, the dogs are held for the days prescribed by law with barely enough food and water with no medical care and zero attention, and then, instead of seeking rescue or adopters, the dogs are destroyed at the local vet for just $25.

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I still don’t understand how this is possible in 2019. I can’t comprehend that there can be human beings who carry out these atrocities and think nothing of it. Or that elected officials know it is going on and do nothing to change the situation.

When I came home, I knew I had to go back. I had to do everything I could to help these forgotten dogs in these forgotten places. I pictured Fanny in that terrible place, suffering in the heat, not understanding why she was being treated that way. It is not okay that this is happening. Yes, there are too many unwanted dogs and yes, the reasons are many and complicated, but the least we can do is care for these dogs humanely and give them a chance. Loose dogs in Carroll County, Tennessee, have no chance.

But Fanny got one.

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Trisha did go back and get her (and the other three and many more since then). While Trisha called her Mocha, in my mind she’d been Fanny since the day I met her. Looking back I don’t know why. Maybe because she wiggled her fanny so much when I put the leash on her and brought her out or maybe because Fanny’s happy heart and wide smile reminded me of Frankie’s.

She stayed on my mind and heart all summer. I checked in with Trisha periodically to see how she was doing. She was gaining weight and getting healthy. I waited for the message that said she’d been adopted. I imagined people would line up for such a happy, beautiful pup.

When it didn’t come, I asked OPH to pull Fanny so I could foster her. She’d waited too long for a happy ending. It had been a long summer for her living in a crate in Trisha’s living room. This was a dog I could literally ‘let out’ when Nancy and I returned to Tennessee.

When I saw Fanny again, she looked very different, still thin, but not skeletal; her coat was now a rich ginger color that shimmered in sunlight. She was shy and skittish, but eventually warmed up and gave me a few kisses.

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When she is feeling safe and comfortable, Fanny is playful and silly and bounces as she chases after balls or toys. She is gangly and uncoordinated, falling off the couch and crashing into chairs. She is easily intimidated by Gracie and Flannery, they push her around like a gullible little sister.

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She rivals Thelma in her chewing prowess; she’s already resigned to the trash both pairs of sandals I purchased this summer to replace the ones Thelma chewed. I tried leaving a leash on her when she was first loose in the house, so that I could keep her close by me, but she silently chewed each leash off so that she could chase after Flannery who taunted her.

After two weeks, I’ve decided to acknowledge what I’ve known since June. Fanny is my dog. I don’t know if Frankie sent her to me to heal my heart or if I am just desperately looking for anything to staunch the pain, but I need her.

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And I think she needs me. She clings to my side, hesitant with new people, especially men. Even Nick and Ian can only pet her or snuggle her if they are sitting. She comes to life around other dogs, their presence instilling confidence. We are bonded, and when I think of breaking that bond so that she can be adopted, it hurts too much, a different pain than when I’ve let other dogs go.

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So many times, I’ve said to myself, keeping this dog would be selfish. There are plenty of other people who can give her a wonderful home. That’s how I justify letting dog after dog leave. But this time, I can’t do it.

This time, for the first time, I think this dog needs me as much as I need her.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my occasional e-newsletter.

I write another blog, Who Will Let the Dogs Out, where I share the stories of dogs and heroes and the situation in our rural southern shelters and rescues. I believe that this sad situation does not exists because people don’t care, it exists because people don’t know. Please subscribe, follow, and help us tell them.

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog Facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram. 

Best, 

Cara

Another Good Dog coverReleased August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now:

 

 

Published by

Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA but my heart is in the mountains of Virginia. Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at CaraWrites.com.

31 thoughts on “Miss Fanny Wiggles, My Girl”

  1. So, will Fanny be your second foster fail? Sounds like the two of you have become close. If you make a firm decision to keep her, I know that she’ll be well loved and cared for in your home for years to come. Her hesitancy with men reminds me of Daisy, but if Daisy can make progress with that, I’m sure Fanny can too. Keep us posted on what you decide. Keep doing your part for man’s best friend.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good. I’m sure you’ll give her a loving home, just as you did with Frankie. If I may ask, do you get updates on Daisy? I and likely others would enjoy hearing about her if you’d not mind sharing news about her with us. She came so far with you, and I, for one, enjoyed the updates.

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  2. When I lost Ariel (Husky/wolf) my hiking pal (and more) to a rattlesnake bite in her eye, and had to have her put down, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, “I don’t have a dog to hike with.” I went online immediately and within seconds found two huskies who were in deep trouble. Their person was going to have to move into a new house because her abusive husband was being released from jail. I sent a message. The next morning, Jasmine and Lily and their person, came to meet me and Jasmine and Lily stayed. I never doubted for a minute that Ariel KNEW about them somehow and as she left the world she alerted something, someone, to me. When Jasmine died of cancer, Cody appeared. When Lily died, a few months later, Bear showed up with Lily’s eyes. I think it’s a mysterious chain of love that allows us to love and be loved with a magical kind of continuity we’ll never understand. I am so glad Fanny found you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s OK to believe it. The way I see it, The chain of dogs from Molly to Bear, nearly 30 years, of opportunities to love something spectacular, oddly fitted to whatever my life is/was at the moment. I MISS them all, and tear up (like now) thinking of them, but getting to know each new link — oh that’s been wonderful. I’m so glad you found Fanny. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am SO HAPPY for you AND Fanny!!❤️ I knew there was another dog out there and prayed when the time was right that you would find each other! She will help heal your heart, and hopefully soon only your best memories of Frankie will remain…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cara, our family has loved yours since we first learned of you. I am so grateful you and Ian took that trip. This is surely the right and necessary addition to your family. I know Fanny will help
    heal those Frankie spaces and fill lots of joyful places in your heart as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so happy for you Cara. There is no denying the very special bond between the two of you. It’s not selfish to keep her. It’s something good that will help you to stay strong after a horrific loss and keep doing all the good you do for the dogs. Miss Fanny Wiggles….what a great name! I do see some of Frankie in her too.

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  6. Cara,

    First of all, you DID save Frankie. Nothing you did caused what happened. He had a wonderful, loving home.

    Fanny looks like an absolute love. I am sure she will become more secure and confident in your family’s care.

    I like the thought that somehow our prior dogs are somehow connected to our current dogs. The prior dog’s must send them to us because I’ve never had a dog that didn’t want to make me happy.

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  7. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes, Cara. I’m glad you are allowing yourself to see the truth that Fanny belongs with you. I’m so happy for you both. However the universe brought you two together, it’s a good thing.

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  8. First of all, your friends who tell you that one day you will be able to remember Frankie and talk about him with a smile instead of tear are absolutely right. That day will come, and you will just be grateful for the time you had with him. You did everything you could for him, and he always knew you loved him. That’s huge!
    But most of all, I’m so glad you found Fanny!!! She will help you heal, and you will help her heal. (Frankie would love that, I believe) I share your anger at the conditions at that pound, especially considering it’s being paid for by tax dollars. They can, and should, do so much better for those poor dogs. Please tell Trish how much we all appreciate what she does to help them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ann, Fanny will be a daily reminder of all that has to change in our rural shelters. Trisha will always be her (and my) hero. I’ll pass along your appreciation. She is truly the last chance for so many dogs in TN.

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    1. So happy you found Miss Fanny Wiggles. I love her name. She is beautiful & reminds me alot of Frankie. I love her ears… I agree you found her through your broken heart & memories of your boy Frankie. Did you ever see the movie, “A Dogs Life?” Its about a dog being re-incarnated several times & finally comes back to its original owner in a different body however they both knew in their hearts they were back together again. Maybe ths is why you had such strong feelings that Frankie was telling you about Fanny in July.
      I can’t wait to meet her one day. I am so happy you found someone to heal your heart.

      Liked by 1 person

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