The Frankie Project – Admitting my Dog Needs Therapy | HumorOutcasts

The Frankie Project – Admitting my Dog Needs Therapy

October 22, 2012

This week, I am taking a major step in the well being of my family.  I think the Lohans (the famous Lindsay messed-up-as-I-can-get Lohans), have inspired me. I am staging an intervention for my dog, Frankie. 

This was not an easy decision. For 18 months, I have watched my Frankie go from a brave and outgoing 85-pound dog to a canine who is afraid of so many things. The vet thinks she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—the cause of which we might never know.  From my point of view, there is little I can see her being stressed about. She lives the perfect life. She wakes up, goes out, runs around the yard with my other dog, chases critters, eats, naps, gets treats and hugs, eats again, has a stay-at-home mom, gets sirloin steak when we have it…not a bad life.  Don’t get me wrong; she still loves us, our pet sitter, my family and anyone whom she has encountered before whatever the PTSD incident was.  But when she meets new people, she hides in fear. When we take her to the vet, she dives for the nearest corner and just shakes. And now, she won’t even play with her cousin dogs. She still plays with LuLu, my other dog and her closest companion, but that is about it. When we visit family, she prefers to stay in her room.

After several visits to the vet and after the shocking diagnosis, we have decided to take action and bring my dog to therapy.  This decision was not an easy one to make, but I have tried everything from positive reinforcement to EFT Tapping for dogs which have worked a bit, but not enough at this point. So, I cannot tell you how it pains me to say that I am bringing my dog to therapy, and I cannot stress enough how it pains my husband to consent to pay for my dog to go to therapy.

“Can’t she just learn to drink like everyone else?” he queried when I announced my plans for Frankie. “I can’t afford to send you to therapy, but I am sending the dog?”

Do you notice how he used me as an example for therapy and not himself?  He better watch his step or marriage counseling is the next therapy this family undertakes.

Anyway, despite initial hesitation and threats of no husband-wife bonding for a year if he doesn’t go along with this, he has miraculously come on board. We have purchased for the first session, a Thunder Shirt (A wrap that simulates a tight hug on a dog) and a flower essence collar that emits soothing chamomile and lavender scents which are supposed to calm Frankie’s nerves.  We are hoping that when we take her to her therapist, she will embrace the challenge to heal and not come home and pee all over the shoes in my closet out of revenge.

The vet and therapist think this is an important first step that will return my big moose dog back to the big moose dog that was not so afraid when I left the house for an hour or when strange people came to visit. We are dubbing our “intervention” the Frankie Project and will document her progress, so we can help other victims of doggie PTSD cope. Who the hell knows? We might end up on asinine shows like The View or its second-rate competitor The Talk. Maybe that Dr. Drew or Dr. Phil will want us to share our story.  I can see the book and movie deals headed our way.

For the present, I will concentrate on the Frankie Project and the promise of therapy.  I can promise everyone who reads this that I will not let Frankie relapse into a Lohanesque abyss. In the meantime, my husband is also making plans for the future: our next pet will swim in a bowl and flush easily when it gets to be too much trouble.

Donna Cavanagh

Donna Cavanagh is founder of (HO) and the partner publishing company, HumorOutcasts Press which now includes the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books ( As "den mother" to the more than 100 aspiring and accomplished writers, producers, comics and authors, Cavanagh's goal is to allow creativity to flow. She is a former journalist who made an unscheduled stop into humor more than 20 years ago. Her syndicated columns helped her gain a national audience when her work landed in the pages of First Magazine and USA Today. She teaches the how-to lessons of humor and publishing at conferences and workshops throughout the country including The Philadelphia Writers' Conference and Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. The author of four humor books, Cavanagh hopes her latest book, How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans, will encourage writers not only to embrace their humor talents but show them off as well.

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7 Responses to The Frankie Project – Admitting my Dog Needs Therapy

  1. Kathy Minicozzi
    October 23, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Well, Frankie has now taken the first step, admitting that she has a problem (although, in this case, she is kind of having her nose rubbed in it and has to admit what you want her to admit so that she can get her nose back).

    Eleven more steps, and she will be a recovered dog.

    Oh wait! She doesn’t actually drink. Your husband just wondered why she couldn’t drink like everyone else.

    Sorry. Just ignore me.

  2. Dorothy Hanson
    October 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Poor Frankie! Looking forward to the next installment on his journey towards dog sanity.

    • October 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you Dorothy, We will journal her progress for sure!

  3. October 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I may be off the mark here but would Frankie have been in the car when you noticed the forthcoming smell of Jon Jovi? I only ask because since then, I think I need therapy too!

    • October 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Yes, she was! I didn’t put two and two together Bill!

  4. October 22, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Finally admitting the truth about Frankie must have been really hard. Aah but what great material you will get out of it! Can’t wait to see pictures from her coming out party.

    • October 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      I hope she makes it through the grueling therapy program!

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