dog books, Flannery Oconnor, foster dogs, foster fail, fosterdogs, fostering, hard to adopt, Long Term Dog, returned dogs

Flannery, Flannery, Flannery—what will we do with Flannery?

It would be very easy to keep Flannery. I’d love to foster fail and make her a permanent part of our pack.


Undoubtably, she fits in here just fine. All of us love her, even Gracie, which is saying something since Gracie has no patience or welcome to offer any of our foster dogs.


Flannery is endlessly entertaining – the much needed comedy relief time and again. Between regular attempts to catch her own tail, spinning herself silly, and her unbounded enthusiasm for EVERYTHING, she can lighten a mood and bring a smile every day.

She is my constant companion, even outside, never straying far and racing back to me at the first word.

I have a weak spot for those overly enthusiastic, joyous, into-everyone’s-business kind of dogs. So, naturally, I love her.

BUT, Flannery is too much dog to settle for third-string dog in a busy dog-shuffling foster family. She deserves to be the star of the show. At our house, her high-energy must be sequestered when new foster dogs arrive, as they are nervous enough. Lucky for us, she doesn’t mind her crate and races to it whenever instructed. But the huge heart inside this tiny dog deserves better.

So, yes people, she is still available for adoption, no matter how many Frankery pictures I post.

She will need the just-right family. Someone who can manage her. Someone who ‘gets’ her because maybe that person is kind of a quirky person themselves.

The reason we all get along so well with Flannery is we accept her as she is—a happy conundrum who will waggle a greeting and then nip the hand that reaches for her. Like a cat that will indulge you petting it for a few minutes and then bite you, Flannery will occasionally communicate her limit with her mouth. Thankfully, these bites are rarely hard.

Flannery is a tiny alpha dog who is MUCH bigger in her own mind. I know that if I try to forcefully make her do anything – give up the toy she stole from Frankie, move her out of the way, or trim her toenails, she will likely nip me with or without a warning growl. So I offer her a different toy to get her to drop the one she so unfairly took from Frankie (he never puts up a fight), I lure her where I want her with a treat (she will do pretty much ANYTHING at high-speed if there is a treat involved), and I leave the toenail clipping to the professionals (and walk her on the pavement to keep them under control).

photo by Nancy Slattery

The bottom line is Flannery will not be bossed. And she needs to believe that she is the boss, even if she isn’t.


When people meet her, I tell them not to be fooled by her enthusiastic greeting. Do not offer your fingers to her face – she will nip. Let her excitement dissipate and later you can probably touch her without getting nipped. Training this nipping habit out of her is not something I can do because a) she never nips anyone in our family and b) I can’t really ask people to come over and let Flannery nip/not-nip them so that I can teach her.

The best tactic, which seems to be working, is to not give Flannery what she wants – attention from the new people—until she has settled. It generally takes Flannery longer than most visitors like the UPS guy or the friend picking up her flowers sticks around, so the easiest policy for all involved with Flannery is to look but don’t touch.

Here, I want to clarify, that in my presence her nips have never broken the skin of her victims. I know (first hand) that they do indeed hurt, but rarely is there ever any permanent damage.

Both of her returns, though, were for biting. And thus, she does have a ‘bite addendum’ attached to her adoption contract and she cannot be adopted out to families with young children. (Which is a shame because she had the opportunity to meet some little people on Sunday and was beyond happy – repeatedly licking their faces even as they obediently didn’t touch her as instructed.)

What will become of Flannery?

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I think she’d make an awesome competitive agility dog; I haven’t met a more intense people-pleasing, treat-motivated, endlessly-energetic dog. (Frankie and I are taking agility and many, many times as I watch him happily lumber through an obstacle, I think – Flannery would ROCK agility.)

I have to believe that one day the adoption magic will happen for her. Someone, somewhere will see her face and recognize their dog. They will be able to see past her bad habits and love her despite her quirks. They won’t mind ‘managing’ her and be rewarded a hundred fold by this loving, nippy, silly, smart, absolutely joyful dog.

photo by Nancy Slattery

If you or someone you know, would like to apply to adopt Flannery, click here.

Thanks for reading!

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

If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, visit, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, 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 “Flannery, Flannery, Flannery—what will we do with Flannery?”

  1. Can you ask your agility trainer to put the word out to his/her community? If s/he’s willing, send a video of Flannery responding to commands? From what I know of the agility people, a hard-headed nipper is nothing if that dog has speed and smarts. If Flannery likes fetching, I would see if you could find a flyball community. too.

    I totally get not wanting to adopt, no matter how lovely and fun Flannery is. One more dog makes it that much harder to keep fostering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are reading my mind! I’m going to try to find an agility trainer willing to do an evaluation of Flannery and then document whatever she does with her. I just know this dog would be great at it and, you’re right, a nipper won’t bother an experienced agility person one bit.


      1. Chihuahua often nip too and everybody seems to like them! Nipping and Biting are two different behaviors. I hope Flannery and Daisy finds their homes so you can keep on doing what you love.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s about 2 years old and 33 pounds. As the post says, she is enthusiastic about life and just about everything. She will nip sometimes if people reach for her face in the excitement of meeting her, but if they wait until she has settled down and had a chance to sniff you thoroughly and you are slow and careful (or offer her a treat), she is fine. That’s her biggest fault and the reason it is taking a long time to find her a home.

      My whole family loves her and Addie is secretly hoping that no one adopts her before she graduates and has her own place and can adopt her, although that is a few years off and I really hope Flannery finds her people before then.

      She is wicked smart and could learn just about anything – I just know she could compete and win at agility in the right hands. I’ve met very few dogs with the kind of personality this dog has.


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