Destruction, dog rescue, Fankie, Flannery Oconnor, Gracie, Hula Hoop, puppy bowl, training

You Can’t Tell the Players without a Program

Meet our current (about to change) roster:

Hula, who you will remember arrived deathly thin, riddled with worms and nursing three puppies, is a new dog. She has gained weight, her coat has a nice gloss, and there are no traces of her mommy-life. She is full-on puppy and always ready to play. She is also always ready to steal socks. She pilfers them out of dirty laundry baskets and from where they hide, abandoned in a ball under the couch. Once in her possession, she challenges Frankie or Flannery to a game of tug of war.

They stretch the sock into unimaginable proportions, and then, just in case you think you could ever wear that sock again, she commences shredding it. The remnants and strings color my carpet. This morning she found a blue striped sock I believe once belonged to Brady. Now it’s in a million pieces on my living room floor.


When there are no socks or playmates available, Hula will search in one of the toy baskets located in most rooms of our house. She’ll use her long snout to nose through the offerings and select a new antler or kong or stuffed toy remnant. It takes her a few days, but eventually the contents of the toy basket are strewn all over my house. She is worse than a toddler this way.


Hula will have a Meet & Greet this week. She will be spayed on Thursday, and potentially go home with her forever family this weekend. I’m happy for this beautiful girl. Less than three months ago, she was a starving, worm-addled pregnant stray dog wandering around on the Tennessee border and soon she will have her own family where she can be loved all the rest of her days. She is one lucky dog. Too many good dogs, just like Hula are not as lucky. This is how rescue works. She’s the poster child for why YOU should get involved.

Flannery continues to entertain us and is settling more and more, but introductions are tricky. The first few weeks she was here, she nipped at people she met who reached towards her head. I solved that problem by not letting new people touch, only look. It’s frustrating to Flannery because she LOVES attention and LOVES to snuggle.

We’ve kept her in the no-touch zone for long enough and I’m ready to venture out and let people meet her. Reason being that I’m growing much too attached to this little love nugget. We all are. Ian calls her ‘little dog’ and loves to scoop her up on his lap. Nick indulges her – allowing her to lick plates and to snuggle with him on the couch—two activities normally reserved only for Frankie.


So it’s time for Flannery to practice meeting and greeting in advance of a real meet and greet (none of which are on the books). I don’t think the nipping is going to be lifelong problem; it only surfaced when she lived in a home with five small children. I think once she is ensconced in a loving home with no small, grabby children, she will blossom as she has here, and some lucky family will fall in love with this dollbaby as we have.

photo Nancy Slattery

Frankie has been attending Rally Obedience classes. Rally reminds me of dressage with horses. Basically, it’s a course you and your dog follow in which you have to perform obedience moves at prescribed points. Frankie has always had tremendous focus (especially considering his age and breed) and instead of yanking me all over the place from his end of the leash (as he does when we are out and about anywhere except Doggie School), his eyes stay focused on me as he does a 90 Right Pivot or a Right Hand Spiral or a Halt and Walk Around.

Of course, it helps that my pockets are loaded with high-value treats and the other dogs are crated, but still. I think my pup is remarkable.  Whether or not he ever actually competes at Rally Obedience is beside the point. Taking classes and practicing the moves is good for his brain and our relationship.

portrait by Nancy Slattery

Frankie had a date with his favorite girl, Edith Wharton (another great OPH rescue), on Sunday to watch the puppy bowl. They crashed and tumbled all over the Slattery house as we tried to spot the OPH pups on the TV. The above portrait was taken by Nancy Slattery. You’d never know that in reality when this picture was taken, Frankie was actually sitting on her ottoman in front of the TV keeping a vigilant eye on her cat outside. The magic of photography!


Gracie seems content as she can be. She follows the pack around, tail wagging, and eager to be included. They are always happy to invite her into the rumbles, but more times than not, she prefers to watch and cheer (or scold) from the sidelines. Here’s her with Flannery, her favorite playmate:

Still, it’s nice to see my awkward pup joining in. It’s even nicer to see the big smile on her face. The arthritis that normally bothers her in the cold, damp weather has not been in evidence. Perhaps, these particular foster dogs are good for her soul and her body.


And now for the real news! Watch for another blog post THIS SATURDAY introducing you to a special dog arriving on Friday’s transport! I plan to chronicle her journey in daily posts, titled, Diary of a Rescue. If you don’t already subscribe by email to this blog, you might want to do this now (check the right sidebar) so you don’t miss any of the excitement!

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter (which is rarely monthly, but I’m working at it…everybody needs a goal).

If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, check, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, the schedule of signings, and what you can do right now to help shelter animals! You can also purchase a signed copy or several other items whose profits benefit shelter dogs!

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 or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.



Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now

Another Good Dog cover

7 thoughts on “You Can’t Tell the Players without a Program”

  1. Bear LOVES Rally Obedience. When she was a pup, we practiced at the parking lot at the high school between classes. Now, when she gets to a certain place at that parking lot, she’s ready to “go slow” “sit” “go fast” “down” “This way” all of it. I found it is a really easy way to get her back on track when she’s off in Bear Land in her head. This year has also been very icy, and “go slow” has been helpful. I hope Hula Hoop finds the BEST home. She’s so pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is good for Frankie and a lot of fun. I just wish I had a better place to practice besides my small living room or Home Depot. Hopefully, when spring comes that will change. A parking lot is a good idea – I might try that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. I’ve just discovered your book and your blog and I’m so happy to see that the fostering experience is pretty universal. I’m working with a pit bull rescue in Southern California, and I’ve fostered about three dozen puppies. I’ve got a pack of three: two pit bulls and a Papillon…the undisputed leader of the pack. One of the pit bulls came to me as an eight week old puppy and soon made me a foster failure. I simply couldn’t do this job without the help of these three dogs. But…I wanted to comment on Flannery. One thing that you might try, if you haven’t already, is to have people approach her either from the side, to scratch her back, or if they approach from the front, to have them lightly give her skritches under her chin. Many dogs don’t like people to come over the top to touch the top of their heads, and the dog quickly finds that she can avoid this by nipping the hand that is coming at her. If you see that you son is able to approach Flannery from all angles with out the nipping, you can see that once a bond of trust has been established, the unwanted behavior vanishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Flannery is definitely one of those dogs who doesn’t want you to pat her head. I don’t know why that is such a universal human gesture since I don’t think many dogs like it. We’re going to try a practice introduction tomorrow and we’ll definitely use your strategy of approaching from the side. I’m certain that once she forms that bond of trust with a potential adopter, we’ll be home free.

      Thank you for fostering and for loving on the pitbulls – they need as many fans as they can get. Good to know I have a kindred spirit out there in Southern California!


  3. I love the sock video. My new guy, Rocket loves socks too. His toy pile outside is where he disseminates all absconded socks. I honestly don’t know where he finds them but he does! Can’t wait to see the new dog. By the way that picture of Frankie is stunning.


    1. Thanks! I think Frankie is stunning too and Nancy is a gifted photographer. Hula is my first foster with such an intense sock obsession. Others play with them here and there, but she LOVES them. I think she just enjoys the tugowar a lot and they invite that.


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