Monday, October 1, 2012

Roxy's Story

The bandanna says it all

Roxy has a bright pink bandanna that says “I HAVE ISSUES.” It’s funny because it’s true. Roxy is a spazz. I believe that she really wants to be good, she just doesn’t have any impulse control. Son #2 has a song for her (sung to the tune of an old Jackson 5 song). It goes:
A  D  D
Easy  as  one  two  SQUIRREL!!!
I often wonder if that’s why her previous owners gave her up. Was she born this way or is it a result of poor socialization? We know a little about her previous life, but not much. She was originally owned by Hubby’s old boss. Boss’s wife had just had their second child (the first was barely out of diapers) and they “didn’t have time” for her. She was banished to the back yard which she shared with an aggressive, intact female pit bull (they said American Staffordshire terrier – I say same diff). Boss came into work more than once with bandages on his arms from where the “Am Staff” had bitten him. It seems that as Roxy (also intact) got older, the other dog regarded her as a threat and used to beat her up. Boss would get hurt trying to split them apart. The constant attacks made Roxy insecure around other dogs. Boss knew I was an ACO and asked for advice. "Simple," I said, "spay the dogs." I was emphatically told NO! Why? He was going to breed them and sell the puppies. (A crazy shepherd and an asshole pit – great idea!) Instead of taking these unstable dogs out of the gene pool, Boss decided to get rid of the shepherd. We took her, planning to fix her, rehab her and adopt her out through the GSD Club. (It’s been 4 ½ years . . . you see how that worked out, right?)

Roxy before she joined our family
We took Logan and Pepper to a neutral place to meet the shepherd. She was skinny and extremely nervous. She had a grapefruit-sized bald spot on her back. We were told that a rattlesnake had gotten into the whelping box when she was a puppy. Six puppies died; Roxy was the seventh to get bit. Apparently the snake had run out of venom by the time it got to Roxy. Her undercoat won't grow where the snake bit her. Only two female puppies remained; Roxy went to Boss, and her sister went to Boss’s friend, the nephew of the breeder. We were told that Roxy was from excellent German lines but Boss didn’t have her papers because that “cost extra.” (I wonder: lie or shady breeder? What do you think?) We never got the name of the breeder to verify the origins story -- not that it matters much.
What kept Roxy in our household was her immediate attachment to Son #2. She stuck to him like Velcro, following him everywhere he went. And I suck at “fostering.” (Ask me about Spike the guinea pig sometime.) So the hyper, neurotic, untrained shepherd stayed put. Figuring that she’d been through enough change, we kept the name Roxy. I asked Boss the date of her last heat cycle. He couldn’t remember. I assume that it was 5 ½ months previously, because she made a mess almost immediately. I guess Logan had successfully bred in the past and knew that “that” smell meant “happy ending.” Even though he had been fixed for years he went bonkers trying to get to Roxy. We had to lock the dogs in separate rooms just to get some peace in the house. I still haven’t replaced the molding he destroyed trying to dig his way out of my office. Needless to say, Roxy was spayed three weeks later. (And ended up in the Cone of Shame shortly thereafter!)
Guess who chewed out her stitches?
The dogs got along OK, though Pepper and Roxy would have disagreements. Logan was always the peacekeeper. I saw my mellow fella body slam Roxy when she got a little attitude. We ignored minor squabbles between the girls, but open aggression was not tolerated. Roxy learned – albeit slowly – that misbehaving always ended the good stuff. Growl during play time and the game immediately stopped. If she was a butthead during love time she was unceremoniously kicked off the couch. It took Roxy longer than I would have liked to learn this, but the dogs eventually became a well-adjusted pack.
Funny story: About eight months after Roxy joined our family Boss asked if he could see her again. We took all the dogs to Petsmart and then stopped by work to show her off. Hubby took Roxy over to Boss, while I walked Pepper and Logan in the other direction. Roxy couldn’t have cared less about seeing Boss, but was very upset about being separated from the other dogs. Boss said he was happy to see her doing so well, but I think he was also a bit hurt by the snub. I should have felt bad for him, but I didn't. As frustrating as she can be, I can’t imagine ever giving her up. She’s our “Box-of-Roxys” and she’s with us forever, no matter what.
Roxy today. Isn't she beautiful?
We’ve tried to work with Roxy over the years, and although exasperating at times, she’s gotten a lot better. Despite being a picky eater, she put on weight. (Lately too much weight – but that’s Hubby’s fault!) Her top coat has covered most of her scar, though she’ll pull it out when she gets anxious. And she’s a lot more confident than she use to be. She still pulls on the leash, barks at things that don’t exist, and greets all male house guests with a running head butt to the crotch. She failed obedience class twice, chewed out her spay stitches and is obsessed with the laser pointer. She does EVERYTHING full bore – there is no halfway with Roxy. Fortunately, this includes loving her people. I have no doubt that she loves us with every fiber of her being. And when she does something stupid, we just blame it on the snake venom.
The other day Hubby and I were wondering about how Roxy will take to the new puppy. She’s adjusted quite well to being an only dog; will she resent the new puppy? Will she enjoy having a playmate? Will she help teach him house rules? Will she teach him bad habits? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. -- K

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