by Carie Broecker
Gina DeGennaro and her sister, Gloria, were giddy with excitement when they went to pick up Gina’s new puppy. Gina had already picked out her name: Francesca! A good Italian name was a must.
When they pulled up to the designated meeting spot, they immediately saw Francesca sitting in the front of a pick-up truck. Gina had answered an ad in the newspaper for “Lhasa Apso Puppies For Sale.” Frannie did not come with any official papers, but that did not bother Gina. With her luxurious, long, fluffy silver coat and puppy dog eyes, she was irresistible. It was love at first sight.
Gina was retired, so she and Frannie were practically joined at the hip. Frannie went everywhere with Gina, who often referred to her as “girlfriend.”
Gina and Francesca were both well-known amongst their circle of family and friends as being neat, groomed and stylish. Gina loved to put bows in Frannie’s hair and would change the colors of bows with the seasons or holidays. She was quite a sight!
Fourteen years later, when Frannie was well into her senior doggie years, it was Gina’s health that began to fail. She received the devastating news that she had lung cancer.
Gloria spent long hours with Gina and Frannie, helping to care for Gina in her home. One of Gina’s primary concerns as her disease progressed was what would happen to her sweet Francesca. Gloria assured Gina that she would take care of her.
When Gina finally succumbed to her illness, Francesca was inconsolable. She missed Gina terribly and wailed without her. Gloria tried to give her the loving home she had promised Gina she would. But she was still working, and Frannie was not used to being left alone. Gloria also had a 19-pound cat who was very territorial and did not take kindly to this new intruder in the home.
It broke Gloria’s heart that her sister’s beloved Francesca was so unhappy. Begrudgingly, she realized that it was in Frannie’s best interest to find her a more suitable living situation. Gloria lived in Southern California and called every shelter and rescue group she could find, looking for help finding Francesca a new home. But no one could help with a dog so old.
Gloria’s daughter did some research and found a group called Peace of Mind Dog Rescue (POMDR) based in Pacific Grove, California. The small nonprofit specializes in taking in dogs from people who have passed away or are too ill or elderly to care for their beloved pets. They also specialize in taking in senior dogs. Francesca met all their criteria for intake. Gloria says there was no other solution than POMDR. Just like their name, it gave her “peace of mind” knowing that Francesca would be cared for until she found the perfect new home.
POMDR agreed to take Francesca into their foster care program. At first Francesca was anxious about one more change in her life and would wail when left alone. But after a few weeks in foster care with a couple who work from home, and with the company of a pack of happy, relaxed dogs, Francesca settled into a routine of naps, walks, cuddles, and meals.
After a few months in foster care, POMDR received an application from Jim and Kay Watts, a retired couple, who were interested in meeting Francesca. They had seen her adoption photo in the Central Coast Auto Ads of all places! Jim is the one who saw her first and suggested that Kay call to get more info. Jim says he could tell from her photo that she was very sweet and needed a soft place to land and live out her golden years.
Francesca and her foster mom showed up to meet the Watts’ a few days later, and Frannie hit it off right away with their other rescued Lhasa, five-year-old Teddy. Jim and Kay knew immediately that Francesca would fit right in. After a brief visit for everyone to get acquainted and to fill out the adoption paperwork, Frannie’s foster mom slipped out the back door without her even noticing.
That was a year ago, right around Francesca’s fifteenth birthday. She is sixteen years old now and still enjoys her routine of short walks, frequent meals, long naps, and lots of snuggles!
Peace of Mind Dog Rescues (POMDR) is a nonprofit organization based in Pacific Grove, California dedicated to finding new loving homes for dogs whose guardians can no longer care for them due to illness, death, or other challenging circumstances, and to finding homes for senior dogs in animal shelters. For more information or to volunteer, adopt, or donate visit www.peaceofminddogrescue.org or call (831) 718-9122.