Rescue Dog Comforts Kids Who Suffer from the Same Brain Condition

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PetMD Editorial
Published: November 28, 2016
Rescue Dog Comforts Kids Who Suffer from the Same Brain Condition

A dog with an unusually big head is making a big impact on children who suffer from the same brain condition.

Frank, a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, has hydrocephalus, more commonly known as “water on the brain.” The condition is caused by an overproduction of fluid that doesn’t drain, or fluid that cannot be absorbed in the spine due to an obstruction.

At 8 weeks old, Frank experienced a seizure related to his condition. At the time, he was in a shelter along with his litter mates. They were adopted; however, he was at a high risk of being euthanized due to his condition. 

The Richmond Animal League (RAL) stepped in and got Frank into a foster home with the Mark family, where he thrived with their love and regular medications. Still, it was hard to find a forever family due to Frank’s medical condition, a condition that can result in costly MRIs and possibly even surgery for a shunt, which may be needed later to help drain the fluid and relieve pressure on his brain.

Finally, Stacey Metz found Frank. Metz is an administrative assistant in the Department of Neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University who works with both adults and children who suffer from the same condition. She knew that Frank would be a good inspiration for others and adopted Frank last August.  

Today, the dog is in training to become a therapy dog to show children that they aren’t alone.

Toni Mark, Frank’s former foster mom, says Frank will be a perfect therapy dog thanks to his outgoing and easy-going personality.

“It’s really about the dog’s personality. The dog needs a combination of being calm and not flappable while also being very affectionate,” Robin Starr, who oversees Paws for Health therapy dog training program, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “The lovely thing about smaller dogs is that they can be on someone’s bed and someone’s lap. It makes it a little bit more comfortable to have more direct physical contact.”

Frank began his therapy dog training shortly after his adoption and he still has about a year to go on his training.

In the meantime, patients can request Frank to come to their homes, or they can meet him at the RAL shelter.

Frank recently met 2-year-old Dylan Lipton-Lesser, a little boy who has endured 15 brain surgeries to-date. Frank and Dylan hit it off and everyone hopes the friendship between the two will last for a long time.

“These two boys — a toddler and a puppy — come on, it’s just too much,” Dylan’s mother, India Lipton, told “Dylan is on his way to walking now ... I can just see him and Frank running when Dylan is strong enough. In the meantime, they’ll have lots of fun crawling around together!”

Image: Frank’s Facebook page.

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