Frodo: The Little Engine Who Could

Frodo the Brave. 2007-2021

Video: Frodo’s first friend (Penny) after arriving in CA.

Bad Newz Kennels survivor Frodo didn’t earn any fancy titles during his 15yrs on this planet, but he’s probably one of the most accomplished dogs we’ve ever met. He was once so timid that he couldn’t look his caretakers in the eye, much less take treats out of their hands, but he blossomed into a cheerful dog who learned how to prod his favorite humans for attention. He lived his best life with his housemate dogs in Fremont, CA and enjoyed all the canine staples: Car rides, doing fast zoomies in his yard, sneaking up on the bed for cuddles with his adopter, Kim Ramirez (photo). How did it happen? In Kim’s words:

dThe Little Engine Who Could:

“Lots of people know the history of  Frodo’s terrible beginnings, but not many know about the work that Frodo and his family put in to help him shake his nightmares and finally enjoy the simplicity of being a cherished family pet.

You see, even normal household items such as vacuum cleaners or a popping bag of popcorn in the microwave can cause a dog with a timid personality coupled with a scary beginning to bark and run in fear.

When BADRAP entrusted me to take care of Frodo, one of the tips I was given was that I would need to become his anchor.  Earning Frodo’s trust meant I had to create a daily routine so he would knew what to expect next, which would give him a sense of stability.

I started noticing that Frodo would intently watch how I treated my other dogs. Apparently, this told him everything he needed to know about me. As we started establishing our bond, I knew it was time to start desensitizing him to everyday life that comes with living in a household.  

Adopter of Vick dog ‘Audie’ (Linda Chwistek) suggested I try clicker training. I was excited to start, however to a sound-sensitive dog like Frodo, the clicking sound can be too much. So I tried using a writing pen that clicked, which has a much softer sound but still did the job. I read up on how people train guide dogs to help physically challenged people with performing their every day tasks.  By first desensitizing Frodo to the clicker, then adding the ‘click’ sound to a task (like, ‘touch’), then treating for touching items with his nose, Frodo’s world was a little less scary.  That ‘task’ built confidence in him and opened Frodo’s world up a little bit at a time.  

dSoon after Frodo started settling into being part of a family household and many of the scary household items or noises weren’t so scary anymore.  This technique also proved great with helping him meet new people as well.

Frodo also showed us early on that he was a lover of all dogs, especially puppies. I always wondered if he enjoyed playing with them since he was most likely chained out in the woods early in life and never really got the chance to be a carefree pup himself?

Trail walks were another favorite where Frodo would have to put on his brave heart and conquer his fears. I coaxed him to press on and walk a little further each time. As the years went on, other Vick dogs who were at different levels were also conquering their fears and learning the joys of being a cherished family pet.  Frodo started settling in and started having fewer nightmares and became more comfortable with family life and enjoyed all the perks that came with it. Like taste testing momma’s cooking or when a favorite song of momma’s came on, dancing (prancing) around with her to the beat.  

Yes Frodo won over all our hearts, but not because he was a victim of a bad beginning, but because he always tried so hard to be brave for his “anchor”, his momma.  And to his momma, he will always be fondly known as the little engine that could.” – Kim Ramirez

Note from BADRAP: Thankfully, Frodo wasn’t fought while at Bad Newz Kennels, but he lost out on critical socialization opportunities as a puppy chained out in the Virginia woods. Then, seized by authorities while still immature, he was isolated in a barren animal control kennel for several more months while the humans debated his Fate. That time period caused irreparable damage. Even so, Frodo actively worked to be brave, and with his family’s and his fellow dogs’ help, he exceeded all expectations. Brave dog, indeed.

Read more about the Vick dogs here: What did we learn?



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