It would be our first dog ... our first little one was a happy four-year-old and we would soon find out that we had another on the way. Our home needed a playmate for the little one. We scoured the newspaper for a pet that was “free to a good home” because we were a family living paycheck-to-paycheck and frankly, we were happy to have paychecks coming in. Life was good.

My husband had just finished a tour abroad after the events of 9/11. It was a bittersweet homecoming when he finally returned after a full year away and our little one was so full of energy and love. He was processing what had come before and I was resettling us into our married life.

Frankie was a male, fully black poodle that was “free to a good home.” We didn’t ask questions because frankly we didn’t know better. Oh Lord, but we learned. Frankie made sure we learned.

We were so excited to have a new puppy in the house. We lived on the second floor of a two-story townhouse. That meant that from the common area below, you walked up a fight of stairs then down a walkway to get to our front door. The garage was set to the north, a full 100 yards away from the courtyard.

We were excited to get to puppy that would be trained to potty outside, a mean staircase down to the commons. We stocked up on our dog waste bags and we started training our little girl to touch softly. We wanted her to love Frankie and to be a good girl.

Frankie came home and he was wonderful. A beautiful dog that was petite and would fit perfect into our family. Except he didn’t.

Frankie loved my better half. He liked nothing more than to be snuggled and cuddled by him. He was comforted by my husband. But he didn’t like us girls very much ... at all. All it took was a rattle of my husband’s key in the door to turn that dog from a minion of Satan to the world’s best lap dog. He would be sitting so pretty at the door to get the first kisses and the first attention.

He was obviously an evil entity locked inside the fluffy body of a tiny ankle biter.

We thought over time, we could win him over. My girl child and I would take him for walks twice a day. We gave belly rubs during which he would disdainfully look in another direction, reluctant to even take the smallest of pleasure.

Potty time meant waiting outside forever, while he sat sunning himself. He’d wait an hour just being obstinate. Then promptly go inside and pee under my bed ... on my side ... the hate was strong with this pup.

He carried on his facade for weeks until the moment my better half came home early and caught the dog gleefully tinkling on my little girl’s pillow. It was time. We had realized now why the puppy was “free to a good home” and frankly we weren’t equipped to give this puppy what he needed.

We put an ad in the paper, the same paper we found him in ... and we were blunt. Frankie was a hot mess and he needed someone who could devote their entire being to his comfort and welfare. We weren’t expecting a response but we believe in honesty to a fault.

The call came a day later. The couple were excited and wanted to know if we could deliver Frankie to them immediately. There are few words for the shock we felt but the better half packed up little man and his things.

The directions would lead him to a house on the bluffs of La Jolla, California, that looked out of the ocean. To this day, I wish I’d had ridden along for the visit. He was stuck waiting at the gate for several minutes, Frankie riding shotgun before they let him in.

Turns out, a retired astronaut and his wife had lost their extreme jerk of a poodle the previous year and at the thought of having another, they wept.

Long story short, Frankie lived a good life and sent us postcards from San Diego and Wales for the next three years.


Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at