Off the Hook – Shelter was the key word


 “If you’re lucky, a dog will come into your life, steal your heart and change everything.” They only see the good in you, that is, unless there’s just too much bad.
This story is about Jeanne Poling Huffman (MHS class of ‘64), who has a new dog. Well, it’s relatively new. In fact, she has lived in Jeanne’s house for six months. Apparently, in the home before there had been abuse.
 It’s the beginning of a semi-success story, maybe. Here’s how this went. Jeanne’s former dog died and she was lonely and missed the companionship of a pet in her home. Well, that has taken a strange path. In the quest for a new dog she checked out local shelters and decided to go to Canine Collective, because she had seen a cute dog on their online site.
When she arrived there this darling little 10-pound, blonde, Maltese dog was in a small room where another family had been looking at her. Jeanne was invited to go in and that was it. This dog that was about four years old, the same one she had seen online, was perfect. She would take her home that day, not knowing anything about her history.
 It’s not inexpensive to adopt a dog, but when you get one it is protected by shots and has been spayed or neutered. This one had a chip for easy location. The dog is also returnable at any time if the new owner decides. In fact at the time of adoption, an agreement is signed stating this.
 This little dog is now named Roxi, formerly Fiona when Jeanne got her. Roxi has been a challenge. Apparently she had been mistreated and expected the same from Jeanne.
 When Jeanne took her home, Roxi would just run from her and didn’t eat or drink the first day. She did feel very comfortable sitting in a little crate where the door was left open. In fact, she seemed to run and hide in there.
 Jeanne was looking for companionship and this little dog wouldn’t let her hold her. The only time they got close to each other was when Jeanne would pick her up on the bed. Because her little legs are so short she can’t jump up there. Once there, Roxi would come and lay next to her just until Jeanne would go to sleep. Then, after doing what she must have thought was her job, she’d hurry down to the end of the bed.
 When I asked if Roxi could jump off the bed Jeanne said, “No, I usually lift her down, but I forgot and went off to do something in the other part of the bedroom then heard this big thud. There was Roxi on the floor recovering from the fall. She was fine, but she never did that again.”
 As the saying goes, “The best therapist has four legs,” but Roxi was a big disappointment and Jeanne thought she was probably never going to get over her fear of living in her house. Roxi’s life must have been very sad before this.
 Finally, Jeanne grew tired of her new dog’s rejection and even considered returning her to the shelter, telling friends that. The shelter word turned out to be the turning point. Here’s how that went.
 In desperation to overcome her dog’s apparent unhappiness with her, Jeanne sat down, put Roxi on her chest and then took her cute little face in her hands, firmly. Their eyes met and neither of them looked away during the important conversation that would follow.
 Jeanne began emphatically, “You are cute and could be a wonderful companion, but you seem so unhappy here. It’s sad this is not working out. I tried to be a good owner. Do you remember how nasty your life was before? And then there was the shelter! How did you like that? Do you want to go back? Well, in fact, you are going back to the shelter on Saturday. Really, you have everything a dog could want here. Keep in mind the shelter will be your new home again on Saturday.”
 She continued to bring up the word shelter and then released Roxi. Their stares at each other never wavered during Jeanne’s speech. Now what would happen? She didn’t really expect much and was sad about feeling she needed to return Roxi to the shelter where she had bought her.
 Oh so wrong. Not only is this little dog cute, but also apparently speaks English. A complete turnaround was about to happen … well nearly complete. Almost immediately Roxy quit running from her unless Jeanne is standing up. That still seems to scare her. But Roxi now comes to Jeanne and lets her pick her up and put her on her lap. It is a huge step forward for these two, who really do need each other‘s companionship. Maybe the thought of going back to the shelter brought Roxi to her senses.
 As the saying goes, “Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.” The jury is still out on Roxi, but she’s warming up (or is scared of going back to the shelter). Hopefully she’ll become the pet and friend Jeanne was looking for and Jeanne’s home will be a dream location for Roxi, now safe from harm.
(Last minute update – one week later, Roxi is still continuing to warm up!)
(Melanie Behrens –

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