Thursday, January 17, 2008


April, 1997 (ours, as of May, 1997) - Jan. 15th, 2008

I wanted to detail a bit about "Frisco" and her LIFE, since you all have learned about her death, in my previous post.
We received her into our lives in Lithia Springs, from a working farm where several puppies were for sale, and we were delighted to see several healthy, gorgeous little loves to choose from.
The farm featured a huge male, who was Frisco's Daddy, who safely and lovingly herded chickens(!!) in a large cooped-area.
Hansoo selected the largest one, a reddish 5-and-a-half-week-old female Aussie with clear blue eyes(they later turned amber).Although under 8 weeks is not considered a great time to obtain a dog(their social-skills with other animals are developed between the ages of 6-8 weeks), we did not know that, at that time, and so, we scooped up the most "alpha" one of the pack--she had freely walked away from her siblings and mother-- and jumped with joy when she saw us!
She rode in our laundry basket 'til we arrived at our then-home, a small apartment in Dunwoody.

We set up a small crate with an alarm-clock(simulates a beating heart, like their mother's) and stuffed animals, and she whimpered a tiny bit the first night. Then she started chewing the table legs, the blinds on the windows, etc.
This ended quickly:
See Quick safety note: keep ALL hanging cords OUT of a toddler(or pet's) reach.It's a real hazard.
And freeze a few clean, wet socks for when a pet is "teething"-once they are out of the freezer, it SOOTHES their gums, and is an easy "toy" for them to enjoy, safely!

Training her with newspapers lasted only a day.I put papers down, and grabbed her when she appeared ready to do her "business".I placed her on the ground, and after she finished, praised her with pettting, and my high-register, "good girl, good girl, Frisco" voice.
The very next time she had to go, she simply strolled up to the door,looked at me, and barked(I never taught her to let me know).She was only 8 weeks old.
I trained her to use her crate for sleeping.

I had more than a few cuts from her nips, and severe scratches from her jumps on me-- her "herding" instinct, acted out on own tender calves and heels!

After a few more months, Frisco was becoming a bit heavy for me to easily carry her up and down the stairs outside. Hansoo asked "Why are you carrying her?"
"Well, she can't walk down, honey, she'd fall."
"You mean you're STILL carrying her up and down the stairs?"
It turns out, Hansoo was letting her walk up and down herself, and she was fine with it.
The instant I walked out onto the landing, with her in front of me, she looked up at me, made no move to continue down the stairs, and whined for me to pick her up.
She loved being "babied" by me, but from then on, I tried to walk side-by-side.
Frisco continued to be a bit of a challenge. She would pull on the leash when I was walking her, or simply sit and stare at me, until I gave in and went in the direction SHE chose.
I got no respect.
So, we called a "dominance expert".
Mark S. worked with me on how to reduce Frisco's dominance with me.
He had strong suggestions, but guaranteed they would work, and they did:
I had to stop feeding her FIRST. Instead,I was to eat MY meal, do dishes, etc. let her watch, then prepare her food, and after she quieted down, feed her.
Next, I could not play with her when SHE brought the ball to me. Instead, I had to "initiate" all play, so I would be viewed as being 'in control' of the toys, and hence--all play.
And I had to place all toys OUT OF REACH, where she could see them, but not get them.
I was appalled.
And I balked. "I can't do that, it's cruel--she's my baby, and I want her to play with me."
"Right now, she's training YOU, Lisa.".
was Mark S.'s stern reply.
Oh--and I was advised to--whenever she got too "assertive" with me(trying to jump up on me, or nip my heels)-- to straddle the dog and move back-and-forth in a "humping" motion.
Of course, this was fine in the privacy of the apartment when I had to correct her, but of course, the inevitable occured-- outside one day-- as we prepared to go for a walk...
We were at the bottom of the stairs that led to my apartment, in broad daylight, around noon, I'd say. Suddenly, she began jumping into the air, resisting both the leash, and me. So....I sprung into action. Carefully placing one leg over either side of her, I began a slow and rythmic "humping" motion, in an effort to be perceived as "dominant", and "alpha" in her eyes. Unfortunately, at this exact moment, one of the many other apartment-dwellers came out, looked at me strangely, and said nothing. I quickly explained to this young(in his 30's, conservatively dressed)man:
"Oh--I have to do this; I'm showing her who's boss."
"I beg your pardon?" was his polite reply.
"You know, the Domination-expert told me to do this."
"Sure, okay." He said, looking rather frightened of me.
"I'm training her."
"Where's your boyfriend?" he began."Is he away on business again?"
"Oh, yes--that's why I have to do this."
He stared at me.
"I mean, because he's the Alpha, but when he's not here, I have to be Alpha."
"Look, I don't judge anyone," he said, clearly deciding I was some sort of raging pervert.
"You don't understand. We paid the Domination expert--it's $100.00 for an hour of his time. He's an expert. With dogs."
" Okay, you have a great day, Miss."
Although I saw him several times after that, he never said another word to me....

Shortly after this, I had gone to the dentist for a sore mouth/hurt tooth. I was given pain meds. I was careful to tuck them away, high on a shelf in a closet, so Frisco could not possibly get them, if she were to suddenly become interested. The next morning, I readied myself for work(at the time, I worked at the fab Border's Books in Dunwoody)and when I stepped out of the shower, I heard a "crunching" sound--Frisco had jumped on a shoe-box, and sniffed her way around, tipping over the box at the top of the closet, and knocked the pain pills onto the floor.
The BOTTLE is what she was crunching on, and when she looked up at me, she looked like some kind of cocaine-freak. Wild-eyed, with white powder all over her nose. I screamed, called the vet's and explained. I read them the description of the pain medicine. "Please bring her in immediately." they said.
I was shaking, crying, screaming for Frisco to "Get in your crate."
It's the ONLY time she appeared frightened of me, and she definitely did what I said.
My Mom happened to live just minutes from me.She offered to drive Frisco for me.
I called work, hysterical.
"What's wrong, Lisa?...Calm down..."Were you raped, or attacked?I can't understand you.."
"It's my dog--she ate pain medicine. It may kill her."
I was wailing now.
"Take the day off, no problem. Good Luck, Lisa."

I met up with a dear friend, Dave S., who took me over to the vets' and I waited 'til they told me most of what came up(after being examined) was raw-hide bits. I'd been lucky. Her curiousity had not killed her.
After that, all doors shut & locked. No exceptions.
The tennis ball obsession began at this time, too. There were the obligatory suburban-Atlanta tennis courts everywhere, and lots of players would cheerfully toss a ball to Frisco, and she would fetch immediately.
Later, when we moved to Suwanne-- and a house with a huge backyard-- she found a mound where she could literally "pitch" the ball to me, by holding it with her paw on the ground, and then while watching me, decide WHEN to let it roll down to where I stood.
Anyone who watched her do this, was amazed, as it truly appeared that she was "considering" when to best let the ball roll, often letting it loose, then grabbing it suddenly to stop it, mid-roll, with her paw, hence "feigning" a throw to me!!!
Alas, she was ALWAYS the pitcher, I always the receiver.
Frisco, despite my best efforts, would always be an "alpha" dog. At least over me.
When we adopted "Louie" from the Golden Retreiver Rescue Association,(previously named "Chewy", but we felt that a bad omen), she welcomed him--but only as a subject to 'herd' .
Because she had few skills with other animals, she was MOST comfortable with humans only.
Although Louie loved "the Frisk" very much, he was baffled every time he performed the ritual known as the "play-bow"
(meaning every move after that is "play", not serious)
and tried to nudge her with a sock or toy into active play. She would turn around quite annoyed, and snarl a bit, or simply bark 'til he left her alone.
It would be akin to someone I know approaching me in a pub, patting me on the back, or hugging me, and my returning the affection by suddenly biting them.
But they grew closer. Louie would whine when Frisco left the room. He'd cry when she was away for a day at the vet's for an occasional itch on her cute paws.
When we moved here to Alpharetta, a little over two years ago, Frisco was thrilled with the new location--a Greenway to run/walk on, and a pond nearby, too! She cheerfully went on walks with Louie and me.

Neighbors have been amused with her "bouncing" the tennis ball on her nose, a la a seal(which we never taught her to do).
Often, I saw her nudging the ball from the ground, into the air, and then catching it for her own private amusement.

Her last "big" performance was her appearance, with "the Lou" at our wedding, last February. Her fur was shaved-down(she seemed to like it that way), and everyone thought she looked like a puppy.
Both entered the ceremony courtesy of Danny M., family friend, as the rings were about to be exchanged.

We just wanted her to be a part of it. A part of our love, our life. And so she has.


Dan said...


That's a beautiful photo of Frisco at the top of the page!

Poet with a Day Job said...

What a cutie! The smart dogs are always the toughest ones to train - because they always end up training you!

Good to enjoy the memories and sweetness now...

Lisa Allender said...

Thanks, ya'll.I need to hear these things.
Right now, Frisco is in her "sequel" stage.We have her ashes in a lovely container(a mahogany box) with a photo of her framed on top, and she is in here (the office area of our house), keeping me company. Still.

Collin said...

Great post, Lisa. Missed you yesterday at the lit fest meeting. Call me and I'll catch you up.

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