Canine inspiration |

Canine inspiration

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

The plight of a small but big-hearted dog who was found tied to a tree after having been beaten and shot in the face outraged and touched hundreds of people throughout the western Nevada County community.

So many donated funds to rescue group Scooter’s Pals, in fact, that all of Frankie’s medical care to date has been covered.

On Wednesday, 9-year-old Skye Tyler, who was dubbed “one of Frankie’s smallest angels” after she raised nearly $50 for his surgeries, got to meet him in person.

Frankie began wagging his tail when Skye entered the room, licking her hands and, eventually, her bare feet.

“I see stitches under his neck,” Skye told her mom, Valerie Goulding, before crooning softly, “Ooh, poor doggie.”

“If I ever find out who did this to him, I’ll pinch him,” she announced in a ferocious voice.

“He really perked up for her,” noted Scooter’s Pals founder Susan Wallace. “He was depressed (before she got here).”

“Skye has always had a very special way with animals,” Goulding said, adding that her daughter often catches lizards and snakes, keeping one as a pet for nine months at one point. “Every day, it’s can we get a wolf? Can we get an alpaca?”

Not surprisingly, Skye said she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

Frankie was found by a group of campers Sept. 14 near Foresthill after they heard him whimpering for two days. In addition to the beating, the dog had been shot in the face multiple times with a pellet gun. His jaw was broken with parts of the bone missing, and the toes on one foot were broken.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian in the Bay Area and was traced to Scooter’s Pals, a Nevada County “last chance” rescue organization that had micro-chipped Frankie about six months ago before adopting him out. The man who adopted the dog six months earlier had told Scooter’s Pals he had euthanized him, Wallace said. The information has been turned over to Placer County Animal Control and the case is still being investigated.

Since his rescue, Frankie has had several surgeries, said foster mom Robin Palmer.

During his first surgery, doctors dug out all the broken bone and removed about a dozen gun pellets, cleaning out the infection. There was a 3- to 4-inch gap that was bridged with a titanium surgical plate during the second surgery, which took place Oct. 25.

Frankie remains on pain medication and will be on antibiotics for three more weeks, and will be on a soft-food diet for four to six months, Palmer said. He also cannot have hard chew toys or balls.

“That’s hurting him the most,” Palmer said with a laugh.

Frankie’s broken paw is still splinted, but is healing very well, she said. The splint might come off in another two weeks, when he is scheduled to return to Dr. Van Geem at Mother Lode for x-rays and stitch removal.

He also needs cataract surgery in the future, Palmer added.

“Frankie’s angels have donated enough to cover his care,” Wallace said. “UC Davis donated $2,000; the expense so far has been about $6,000.”

It was Skye’s friend Hannah Matteson who told her about Frankie’s plight, Goulding said. But Skye took the idea of raising money for Frankie’s medical care and ran with it.

The budding animal advocate did a presentation on Frankie in her class, and a lot of her fellow students gave her their lunch money, Goulding said.

Skye admitted to being scared when she got up in front of her classmates, confiding, “When I get nervous, I talk in a baby voice … I just told them about how he got shot and had a broken leg.”

“She hit up all the teachers,” Goulding said, adding that Skye also collected donations for an hour and a half outside SPD Market.

“She was so excited, she would forget to say hello to people, she would just ask for money for the fund,” Goulding said. “She had a piece of cardboard with the (newspaper) article taped to it, and a (donation) can.”

In the end, Skye raised $46, which she had her mom convert to a cashier’s check to present to Scooter’s Pals.

Any additional money raised will likely go into a new fund that Wallace is creating to cover just such emergency situations, Wallace said.

“Frankie needed this specialized surgery at UC Davis, so a supporter put the deposit on a credit card; we were that strapped,” she said. “We decided a fund would be a great idea for dogs like Frankie.”

No decision has yet been made on a new family for Frankie, Palmer said. Since the dog has a ways to go in his recovery, his new family will need to get him to and from appointments at UC Davis.

“He’s such a champion,” Wallace said. “He’s a little trooper.”

Follow Frankie’s journey on Facebook under his previous name at Information about adopting Frankie can be found at

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call (530) 477-4229.

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