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Frank the Frug is every kid's friend at his local Kindy

Frank the Kindy Dog is already quite the local celebrity in his hometown of Mackay. 
He won Classic Hits 4MK Mackay's Cutest Pet competition in 2020 by a landslide, which landed him his first ever professional photo shoot by Coffee and Hops.

Now with the release of his first book "Frankie Goes to Kindergarten" in March, he's setting his sights on being more than a therapy dog, Instagram star and fundraiser extraordinaire for Mackay Animal Rescue Society and the RSPCA.

5-year old Frank the Frug - Pug cross French Bulldog - has been the resident dog at the C&K Walkerston Kindergarten since 2019 but first and foremost, he is the beloved furkid of Director-Teacher Peta Baxter.

We spoke to his mum and full-time manager about how this little ball of energy and mischief came into her life to change everything for the better!

Frank's Story

Peta's partner, Teddy, adopted Frank around 4 years ago from his original owners as he was becoming too much too handle for this young growing family. He was a great escape artist, always finding ways out of the yard and when he got out, he would run and run - and run - and would not come back when called. He definitely was not the most obedient well trained dog and even taking him to puppy preschool didn’t seem to alter his behaviour. After a year, he did outgrow some puppy behaviours but his mischievous side is still there at times. 

"I actually never dreamed he would be a therapy or Kindy dog because at home, he was not always the best listener" admitted Peta "but it didn’t matter because we loved him unconditionally." As soon as the kids spotted a photo of Frank and George the kitten on her laptop's screensaver, they started asking if she could bring Frank for a 'show and tell'. 

Frank was always very gentle and loving with children so Peta knew he would be great with the kids but she was worried he wouldn’t be the best listener at Kindy. But the most amazing thing happened on his first visit: Frank suddenly became a wonderful listener and displayed a newly found calmness around the children that completely blew his mum away...

Peta had predicted he would just spend the day out in the playground, doing his own thing. Instead, he wanted to be wherever the class was that day, whether sitting with the kids on the group time mat or up in the fort!

"If the children were in on the couch reading, he would jump up and sit next to them. He was instantly one of the class and so interested in everything the kids did. He greeted every parent that arrived that day to pick up their child and walked them all out. He was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day but he was so content. It was like he was born for it. 

He didn’t jump up excitedly on anyone or overwhelm anyone like he could sometimes do at home when we had visitors. The children fell in love with him instantly too! As it was the beginning of the school year, we still had a few children who were struggling with separation anxiety and who were getting teary when it was time to say goodbye to their parents. On the day that Frank came, no children cried. In fact, the children that had been teary the day prior were suddenly saying, “Okay Mum/Dad, you can go now…” because they were just so excited to play with Frank. 

He seemed to notice when children were struggling to sit still at group time and would sit next to the children who were a bit more fidgety on the mat and those children suddenly calmed and patted Frank and listened at group time… He just demonstrated this wonderful intuition when it came to a child needing a bit of extra love and attention from him. He also seemed to know which children were a bit frightened by dogs and kept away until they were more comfortable. He just seemed to sense what everyone needed in the group."

Because both children and their parents kept asking when he would be coming back, Frank's visits soon became a regular feature. Frank was also very sad to be left behind at home after a taste of this wonderful, exciting place. After consulting the C&K Head Office and the appropriate risk assessments, Frank officially became a Kindy dog!

2021 is Frank's third year and he now comes in 2 to 3 days a week. He's the first thing the children look for each day when they walk through the door in the morning upon arrival. When Peta says “It’s Kindy today, Frank!", he gets excited to put clothes on because he knows it means he is going somewhere exciting. His need for a fashionable wardrobe saw him appointed as an Ambassadog and doggy model for DoggyDolly Australia & New Zealand.

"There are children who attend each year who are frightened of dogs and because Frank is not overbearing with them and so intuitive, he has a way of letting them get to know him without being overwhelming. 

Children who are scared of dogs definitely become comfortable with Frank within a very short time and in fact, go from not liking dogs at all to being so in love with Frank. 

The children love to bath him in the water trough or in the shower inside. 

They also love reading books to him and to dressing him up, they often make beaded necklaces for him and draw pictures of him which they put in his locker in the office (yes, Frank has his very own locker!). 

He has a brush in his locker and the children go and get it out and take turns at brushing him. They love to put him on his lead and take him for walks around the playground and they even ask me to teach them how to write his name so that they can write him letters.

He is part of the class so we make sure he gets to be in our class photos in the front row."

How Frank became a successful author...

Co-Educator Connie Hemmens and Peta Baxter always dreamt of writing an educational children's book for children that is all about Kindergarten and all the fun things to do there.

Photo Credit: Photos by Nell

After collating some of Frank's adventures into a book illustrated by a talented Kindy mum and printed at their local Harvey Norman, the team decided to pitch a story to Ford Street Publishing and this is how Frank got his (first) book deal!

With some assistance from Editor, Nan McNab and Illustrator, Marjory Gardner, their dream book project became a masterpiece.

"Frankie Goes to Kindergarten" to be released in March is aimed at parents or any family member reading to the kids before they start kindergarten to help prepare them. 

It can also be read by teachers during the orientation stage for new enrolments during the first week of Kindy. Being quite general, the themes also apply to children who are attending long day care centres. 

The target age is 3-4 year olds but older children (primary school age) will enjoy it too because of the hidden story in the illustrations.

You can follow Frank's adventures on Facebook and Instagram under @frankthekindydog.

Photography Credit (otherwise specified): Coffee and Hops

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