For the Love of Roxanne and Other Animals
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Hi. I’m Adrienne Maslin and I’m writing this with my dog Roxanne. She’s beaming in this photo; she had just taken second place in her age category in a 5K race! She might have won but there were frequent distractions--chipmunks, sweet smelling grass, the occasional need to relieve herself. And she had to drag me along with her! I’m not the fastest.
Roxanne is a seven year old Husky/Cattle Dog mix. In her short life she has lived in four different states. According to her medical records, she was born in South Carolina, made her way to North Carolina where she received medical treatment for an injured knee, then up to For the Love of Dogs Rescue, a beautiful, caring, shelter on a horse farm in upstate New York. Why any dog would want to leave is mystifying! Finally, in December 2014, she traveled to our home in Connecticut, lying in the backseat of the car, resting her head on my son's leg.
Roxanne has thick, soft fur, an expressive face, is reasonably intelligent, very muscular, definitely a drama queen, has some anxiety issues, and loves to talk. If I’ve been out, even for the briefest time, she tells me long stories upon my return, usually fabricating narratives about terrifying incidents that occurred while I was away. All just to riddle me with guilt for leaving her. As good as she is a storyteller, she is also a very good listener who never tells me I’m boring her. And she’s my muse.
Several years ago, I began writing scripts for TV or video streaming about Roxanne and her band of what I call “human canine” pals. The scripts are directed to the eight to 13 year old age group and address life skills and important social issues in ways that are simultaneously serious and humorous. Whether the scripts will ever be produced is a question; I have to raise funds for production but I hope at some point they’ll be widely viewed. For now, I thought I would turn Roxanne’s concerns, questions, and ideas into a blog, hoping they will inspire, teach, and amuse.
So, a bit about me. I retired in 2019 following a 45 year career in higher education administration, most recently as the chief student affairs officer for Middlesex Community College in Middletown, CT. My conversations with and observations of college students over the years sparked my interest in discussing the issues I will comment on in these blogs. It is my belief that if entering college students had more knowledge of these matters, their acclimation to college would be easier and they would be more successful as students and as people.
I am also interested in and wish to reflect upon concerns of a broader nature that go beyond the college experience. This first blog post introduces our protagonist and considers the issue of animal abuse and the importance of rescue workers and shelters. I hope to incorporate in each of these blogs a section told in Roxanne’s voice, probably in purple as that is her favorite color. This series will strive to be enjoyable, educational, and valuable for all young people. I welcome your thoughts.
One day, as a little, immature pup—my name was Bonnie back then—I refused to follow my brothers and sisters who were playing with our dog-ma and instead, followed my nose. “Yoohoo!” I waved my paw wildly and jumped up and down. “You smell sooo good! What kind of shampoo do you use?” Of course, I had to find out so I dug my way under the fence in my yard to go out to play with my new friend. I’m kind of embarrassed about it now. I’d never seen a skunk before! How was I supposed to know what would happen? You can imagine the rest. She sprayed me all over! I writhed on the ground and rubbed my eyes and roamed about barely able to see. And then my collar caught on a shrub and snapped off. I was on my own with no ID. I didn’t know where I was and I wandered further and further from home. I slept in an alley between two large buildings and foraged for food that had dropped from an overflowing dumpster. It’s not exactly the way a “front seat dog” should act. But what choice did I have?
The next day brought more misery as a rainstorm blew in from the west. My fur was dripping and I was freezing! A woman in a car, noticing my predicament, stopped to pick me up and bring me home. I didn’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing but I didn’t have much of a choice. I was brought to a barn. The woman opened the door a crack and put me inside. “Here you go, you sweet thing,” she said. I was out of the rain but the room was full of other dogs and it smelled awful. Urine, feces, vomit! The stench was overwhelming but there was nothing I could do; there was no way to leave. Some dogs were sick and some had large wounds. One had an eye infection and another’s paws were bleeding. None were friendly and one shoved me out of the way when I asked a question. The lady came back later with a small amount of food—not nearly enough for all of us—and she threw it on the floor. I didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t get any of it. Fortunately, about two days later, rescue workers and police rescued all the dogs from this terrible situation.
We were all treated by very nice people--veterinarians, I think they called them. I was severely dehydrated and very hungry but otherwise healthy. It was soon after this that I was brought to a shelter in New York State, given the name Roxanne, and adopted by the Maslin family. I was so excited to be going to my forever home! All I could say was, “I have a family! I have a family!”
Those of us who love animals find it mind-boggling that there are people who abuse them. There are many forms of animal abuse including abandonment, forcing dogs or other animals to fight one another, targeting pets along with people in situations of domestic violence, and hoarding, to name just some. Animal hoarding is often perceived as a different form of animal abuse as it is the result of a hoarding disorder; one where the hoarder’s intentions are good—to care for animals—but which have dire consequences for the animals because the hoarder cannot take care of all the animals in their possession.
One way to combat animal abuse is to get the word out by educating others about the ways in which animals are abused and actions that can be taken. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (aldf.org), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (peta.org), as well as the ASPCA (aspca.org) and your local Humane Society are excellent sources of information about animal hoarding and other forms of animal abuse. If you believe an animal is being abused by hoarding or any other situation, call your local animal control agency or 9-1-1.
And please remember that those people who work to protect and care for animals are heroes. Although part of Roxanne’s account above is fictionalized—we do not know how she came to need rescuing—Roxanne wouldn’t be with us now if not for the care she received from the veterinarians, vet techs, rescue workers, and volunteers. They all deserve my gratitude. If eight to 13 year olds are looking for a good volunteer project, collecting blankets, food, toys and other supplies needed by shelters is a great way to help animals in their community.