Frank.....Revisited.....

by Martha
(Barrie, Ontario)


I have taken a self imposed sabbatical from writing "Frank" stories. I innocently started off several months ago, sharing lighthearted glimpses into my Great Pyr's "typical" behavior and ended up in August writing about how my four year old female Great Pyrenees fought off an interloping bear on our cottage property while my children were outside.

I was not present when Frank was protecting her "flock"; but my five kids and their grandparents were; and each proved to be a key witness. After interviewing my family and going through the process of writing up each account and "reporting" the incident to the GPCSO; I realize that this event changed my view of Frank forever. It also served to even further endear her to our entire family as well as to our friends, and some readers/visitors to the GPCSO website.

I now know that after all the comments, recommended reading, personal stories shared; and some reflection on my part, that when the lovable fur ball Frank took on a bear she was not doing something miraculous; or out of the ordinary. She was exhibiting "typical" Pyr behavior.

Being a first time Pyr owner is no excuse for not listening to, or fully believing, all the accounts of seasoned owners who repeatedly stress that Pyrs are PROTECTORS first, and pets second. They are gentle and ferocious; depending on the situation. They are guardians; not attack dogs.

I have learned that a Pyr can assess a situation and apply the necessary force. I also learned that they can RE-ASSESS and react accordingly.

Take this past Halloween night, for instance. Generally when night falls and someone approaches our door Frank is right on the scene barking her head off, warning anyone in the vicinity that she is on duty. But Halloween night she was out on the front porch with my sons and me as we handed out treats. Frank's tail was continually wagging and there wasn't a peep out of her. She stood on the top step and calmly "smiled" at all the little ones that came up the walkway. Even the children who were a bit overwhelmed by her size couldn't help but come closer and touch the "fluffy polar bear".

But later that night when two teenage boys decided they would try to steal our pumpkins, Frank was not as congenial. She immediately went into her "stance" at the front door and went into a frenzy of barking which alerted my husband.

The duo of Frank and Dan caught the boys in the act of picking up a pumpkin each off the front porch. Dan quickly opened the door and flicked on the porch light. Two masked figures looked up just as they were lifting the pumpkins. Dan had to raise his voice to be heard over the barking. "Uh, hi guys. You may want to put the pumpkins down before I let Cujo here out." In a flash the culprits replaced the jack-o-lanterns and sprinted off across the road and into the park.

The truth is that Frank would have done nothing more than advance on the pair while barking furiously until they left. Threat?: Intruders on property. Action?: Bark and look vicious until they leave. Simple eh?

I gained even more insight into the "assessment" component of my dog yesterday, which inspired me to sit down and type.

A stray cat has been hanging around our house for just over a week. This young, male ginger tabby is friendly and always hungry. I admit to feeding him tidbits out on the back deck. I even chat with him when he is perched on the outer window sill of the kitchen window as I wash dishes.

We have our own male cat: Tux, who gets along famously with our Pyr. Yesterday afternoon while I was on the deck putting out peanuts for the blue jays, I left the back sliding door open. The ginger tabby (nicknamed Pumpkkinz by my kids) strolled in to the kitchen. He didn't realize that Frank was having a snooze in the back hallway. I walked back into the house just as Frank sensed a newcomer and lifted her head up.

The cat froze. Frank yawned, stretched and slowly stood up. She walked slowly towards the cat; who panicked and jumped onto a kitchen high chair. The tabby went into an arched yoga pose, clearly indicating that he was NOT AMUSED with the approach of his natural enemy. Frank took no notice of the obvious body language and plodded over to say hello. The high chair put the pair at equal eye level and the tabby hissed and spat as Frank leaned in for a sniff. (Looks like a cat and smells like a cat... but it sure acts funny.)

Oblivious to the feline warnings, she pressed closer with her plume tail wagging lazily. With lightening speed Pumpkkinz lashed out with his tiger striped paw and landed a blow right on Frank's nose! She blinked and tilted her head. (This is interesting.) Pumpkkinz came back quickly with a one/two combination to the snout punctuated with a hiss. Frank's ears elevated just a bit and she pulled her head back in surprise. (What on earth?)

At this point, I decided to intervene just in case the cat decided to engage his claws and actually do some damage. I ushered Frank out the back door and was quite surprised to see the cat jump down and follow Frank out into the yard.

I fully anticipated the worst as the cat came up behind Frank and struck out. Frank spun around. (Oh, its just YOU.) She playfully lifted up a giant paw and brought it down just inches from Pumpkkinz. The cat crouched low and yowled his displeasure. Frank, quite unfazed, turned around and went to her favourite resting spot under the mulberry trees, circled around a few times, glanced over at the cat, then plopped herself down on the bed of fallen leaves.

I stood on the deck and marveled. This is the same dog who took on a bear! A cat would be an easy conquest. Yet when the cat attacks and provokes, she walks away and lies down. Why?

Because there was no perceived threat.

I am now a firm believer that Great Pyrenees Dogs continually assess the level of threat around them. And I think they are damned good at it. What an amazing breed!


Comments for Frank.....Revisited.....

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Nov 03, 2010
Frank 'n Pumpkinz
by: Cheryl Poulin

I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Yeah! Martha and Frank are back!!!"

Great observations and yes, I agree. They are highly intelligent and wise. I can't claim the same feats from my own Pyr but Gus has his own "radar" about situations and people.

He can zero-in on a person with dementia or Alzheimer (or other mental / physical disability). He will sit by that person and not budge. He's not usually that "in your face" kind of dog.

Frank would make a wonderful "poster dog" or goodwill ambassador of the Pyr breed. Our very own Lassie, as it were!

I'm delighted that Pumpkinz got to duke it out with a big dog. Imagine the stories this cat will be sharing in the back alleys around town! "Yeah, see the dude was THIS BIG! Me? Oh, I gave 'im one right pow in the kisser!"

Keep your stories and observations coming. We love Frank and your family!!!

Nov 06, 2010
Otis turns one on Tuesday
by: heather

Great to hear your new story - love the Frank stories. I tell them to my kids, colleagues, etc. Interestingly, I hadn't checked the site since days after the bear story was posted so I was happy to see a new story. Pyr-owner telepathy.

Otis didn't fare as well as Frank for Halloween. My 16 year old daughter bought a 'fog machine' for an event at her school dance which set off our smoke detectors when we tried it in the house and sent poor Otis shaking into his kennel voluntarily.

We are having our challenges with Otis - he doesn't quite understand why SOME others (not me ever!!) would encourage him to jump up just a few months ago and now not so much - but he is learning.

I do off-leash him in the nearby woods due to the bear population (for another month or so)but he is getting better at recall when someone else is approaching - which is good as he tends to want to play with any other dogs and can intimidate them.

I have seen (and stopped and spoken with) a fellow who lives locally and has a Pyr who rides in (and fills!) the box of his small pick up. I think I'll try to organize some way for Otis to socialize with bigger breeds as he certainly seems to need that.

When the cat climbs onto the middle of Otis's (papasan cushion) mat, he carefully places himself around the cat so as not to squish him. Very cute. One overly exuberant love 'mouth' cost us $600 in vet bills to seal the puncture wounds on either side of the cat - pure love mind you and he is learning to be gentle.

Oh and FYI, Otis appears to shed 24/7 (or 12 months out of 12)but we have resolved ourselves to permanent fuzzy white sock covers and if anyone wants to complain, they are welcome to vacuum:)

A colleague of mine trains dogs on the side (we are probation officers so relate to your husband's profession - and having a guardian breed)- has been working with Otis (and me) and we are learning a lot!

Still miss my old fellow but Otis fills a big space in all of our hearts.

Nov 14, 2010
Laughing Out Loud
by: Martha

Well, I laughed out loud when I read about Otis and grinned and nodded my head when I read about Gus. Both of these guys sound like the most lovable characters!! Reading about them makes me feel like I KNOW them.

I realize now that I not only visit this website for information and camaraderie; but also to ENJOY and FEEL GOOD! I love reading about your experiences and you both lay out the words so well that I just want MORE! LOL Thanks Cheryl and Heather for brightening my overcast Sunday morning!

I am beginning to think I need to purchase my OWN digital camera (instead of begging to borrow from my kids) and start documenting both in pictures and in words the burgeoning relationship between Frank, Pumpkkinz (the stray cat) and our family of blue jays.

I have been continually entertained by this bizarre trio of critters over the past week and I have a feeling its only going to get better! I may have to consider using a wildlife blind though,(like the dudes from National Geographic) and a tripod; to properly capture the comedy that is currently playing out on my back deck. I have observed the blue jays instigating some funny business and I suspect that this age old "dog/cat/bird" rivalry is a clever ruse!!

Anyway... thanks so much for sharing, writing and keep the Gus and Otis updates coming! I look forward to more... you guys truly make my day!
Cheers!
Martha

Jan 26, 2012
Getting hooked
by: Rhonna Booth

I am truly addicted to all of your stories so much so that when my poor husband comes home from trucking I am jumping at his heels, "honey you have to hear this one!" Lol. I must drive him crazy as I read these aloud to him. As a great Pyr, he is patient and listens to them all.

I have found a Pyr I hope to get. He is 10 weeks old and an 8 hour drive away for me. It is difficult to find how I am going to go pick him up as I have a very busy 2 Year old, one vehicle and a very tired, overworked husband (whom does all this for my son and me so I can stay home). Bless his heart. I cannot wait. Please keep sharing your stories they make me laugh, warm my heart and entertain me and my husband (smiles sheepishly). Thank you.

Jan 26, 2012
Rhonna...you will be writing your own stories!
by: Martha and Frank

I sure hope you can get that Pyr home soon and start writing your own stories!

Pyrs are such interesting creatures, with a depth of charm hard to resist. Raising a Pyr in a family environment was a challenge...but a rewarding one...They are so worth the extra effort!

So Rhonna, I will be watching and waiting to see you posting your own tales about your Gr8 Pyr....

and thanks so much for your sweet comments.
Luv Martha and "Frank"

Jan 26, 2012
I have a name picked out,
by: Rhonna Booth

You know whats sad? I already have heart set on this gentle giant. I have photo and cannot stop going back to look. The one I am so desperate to get to is fluffy white, his Daddy is purebred Pyrenees and Mommy is Golden lab. I know he is a mix but he is beautiful. The lady that has them didn't allow the breeding so to speak but she is letting the pups go for very minimal fee. She wants to take the Mommy in and get her fixed so this does not occur again.

The one I and my husband have chosen is a Male and the largest in the litter. The lady says he is always the one who hides when people come to view all the pups. He seems to me to either be a bit shy or just doesn't like all the commotion.

Being a stay home Mommy thanks to my loving husband allows me lots of time to give this young lil one. Since my favorite all time book and movie is "The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe", and from all the statements people have said about the Pyr having a heart of a Lion, I am thinking of naming him "Aslan". Which was the name of the Lion in the book. Aslan was beautiful, majestic, calm, powerful, loving but always willing to give his life if need be for all those of Narnia. I know Corny, lol. My husband says that's silly. Oh well, unless he mentions something better, Aslan it will be. Hoping maybe this weekend we can make the 6 hour travel further north to get him. Keeping fingers crossed. I'm all twitterpated over a dog I have not even met yet. Sure hope he likes us!

Jan 26, 2012
I have to add...
by: Rhonna Booth

I just realized, you are in Barrie Ontario. My son moved there from Kamloops, BC. He too loves dogs.

My husband got home from trucking and I was so excited to tell him that you had responded to my post, lol, I feel like I am in contact with a movie star. In my opinion, Disney should do a movie on Frankie and your family, I know we would watch it.

I am currently moving mountains to drive the 8 hours to get my Pyr, whom I will name Aslan. My husband has finally succumbed to the name and agrees it fits the puppy we are soon on our way to pick up. I am so excited I am just wired. I do agree Martha I am truly looking forward too writing my own stories of my big boy. Although I must admit I hope I never have to experience what you and your family have.

I hope to post tomorrow on the adventures of Aslan. See you all soon

Jan 27, 2012
Aslan
by: Martha & Frank

Hello again!

I LOVE the name Aslan (LION), and the beautiful mane that Pyrs have makes it very fitting.

I am so excited for you... and for your family. It is also so great that you are a homebody, as Pyrs do like/need/often require consistent training as they fit into your family. We had some challenges training Frank at first - my fault for not fully understanding my Pyr... but after a slow start (again, my fault)... I started teaching her hand signals in combination with voice commands and SUCCESS!

The one thing that I realized was that Frank (as a true guardian) just loved to move along with us (her flock), everywhere we went. I was lucky because I had an older car (Ford Focus) I used to putter around town with my growing puppy.

She went EVERYWHERE with me for the first 2.5+ years, so ask you son in Barrie if he has seen a little red car with a giant white dog in the back seat... her head out one window and tail flying out the other.LOL We don't go out as often in the car these days, but she still loves "Car Ride!" (Picture me with my hands out gripping an imaginary steering wheel as the signal for that!)

I just know we will be hearing from you with your updates, tales, stories and thoughts as you welcome Aslan into your flock. Your husband may even join in the fun and contribute as well!

Enjoy and keep in touch.

luv Martha and Frank

Jan 27, 2012
Picture of ASLAN?
by: Martha and Frank

Oh, I forgot to add:
Can you post the picture you have of ASLAN? I bet everyone would love to see him...

and my final comment... Frank is the "movie star" around here and she struts around like royalty...

looking forward to hearing more...
M & F

Mar 06, 2013
My Aslan
by: Rhonna Booth

I have not been on here for forever as I have had no internet. We are still loving our over 120 lb Great Pyr Aslan. Oh some stories I do have. Lol. I do not know how to add a photo on here of him. He is definitely a Guardian and by far my best friend and definitely my 3 year old sons best friend. I swear my son (all of 23 lbs at 3) can do anything and that Large Gentle Giant will tolerate. Someone please inform me how to add a photo and I will.

Missed reading a day in the life of Frankie as well as all the other stories. Its nice to be back. Hugs to all and your owners. lol

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