I bought a T-shirt this summer with a great saying printed on the front: “When nothing goes right – go left.” If the 11-years-young beagle pictured at right were to have her own motto that would be it.
She’s got a quirky sense of humour. She’s also got brilliant navigating skills when following life’s crazy road map. Some might say she’s all over the map. But for as long as I’ve known Franky, she’s never steered me wrong. There’s something to be said for going in every direction at once. If anyone can prove the journey is far better than the destination, it’s Franky.
I first met Franky at the end of May. By then, she’d already had massive surgery to rid her of the largest tumour I’d ever seen. She’d been delivered straight to Beaches Animal Hospital by the investigating officer who rescued her.
The tumour had been growing on her chest over the last few years. At the time of removal, it was the size of a large watermelon – almost half her body weight. Franky could barely walk.
Not only was Franky unable to explore the world at regular beagle speed, she was in great discomfort even when parked.
Fortunately, her owner chose to do the right thing when these facts were gently explained to her. Financially unable to cover the medical costs, she surrendered Franky to her local animal shelter in hopes of giving her dog the best possible outcome.
At that moment, a new journey was mapped out for Franky. From the compassionate investigator offering her the chance to be a beagle again, to the surgical team that successfully removed the benign mass, to her recovery caregivers at Big On Beagles Rescue, Franky was finally pointed in the right direction.
Like everything with Franky, recovery has been speedy. Even before the incision site fully healed, she was revving her engine. And when our vets ultimately gave her the green light, she put paw to pedal leaving her Elizabethan collar in a cloud of dust. The fur has been flying ever since – as her devoted foster mom, I should know.
In the mornings, Franky is the first to spring to her feet in anticipation of breakfast, otherwise known as her morning fuel injection. If the rest of us don’t move fast enough, she’ll lay on the horn. On her walks, Franky prefers to skip or, as I like to call it, pop wheelies. At our farm, she likes nothing better than to go off-road in search of wildlife. Not that she wants to run any over, mind you. Franky loves to play with all creatures great, small and … slimy. She’s especially delighted at coming nose to nose with the odd snake. I, on the other hand, am not so delighted.
Even drag racers get tired eventually. If the stars align, Miss Independence will sometimes choose my lap as her parking spot and snooze the night away while we watch a movie. But if I dare get up for popcorn, she switches from park to drive in an instant. There are fireflies to chase after dark!
Franky is always moving forward, never in reverse. The only reminder of her past is in her unique begging stance. You can’t exactly call it ‘sitting pretty’ for a treat, but it’s classic Franky. Instead of daintily putting her two front paws together like a normal dog, she clumsily splays them out to accommodate that phantom giant watermelon she used to carry between them. That’s one dent in the bodywork I never want her to fix.
Unfortunately, there are a few other dents recently discovered that we desperately wish we could fix. Four new lumps have surfaced on our precious little speedster. Unlike the watermelon, these lumps have been identified as mast cell tumours. Also unlike the watermelon, surgery won’t fix these.
But here’s where that T-shirt saying comes in handy. Since nothing appears to be going right, we’ll go left on this crazy road called life and focus on all the adventure our headlights can illuminate in front of us. With a daily dose of steroids and some luck of the Irish, Franky may still have another two to three years of pleasure cruising life’s highway.
Dents and all, Franky is up for adoption. Some folks might not see the beauty in adopting an old dog, much less one with cancer. Some folks don’t like the idea of getting attached and then having to say goodbye too soon.
But if you’ve ever driven a classic car down a country road without a map or a care in the world on a perfect blue-sky day, you discover something almost immediately: it’s worth the drive.
May the road rise to meet you, little Franky.
Franky is a high performance 11 year-old beagle enjoying the ride at Big On Beagles (BOB) Rescue, bigonbeagles.ca. If you’re lost without her, we guarantee she’ll show you the way.