by Patricia Grandjean
Feb 21, 2012
09:55 AMBox Office
A Happy Tail Hits the Streets
Farmington's Teresa Pelham claims she was never a dog person. In fact, neither she nor her husband had ever owned a dog, nor were they eager to: For years, the only pets sharing their home with them and their three sons—Spencer, 15, Jack, 12, and Carter, 10—were two rescued felines, Baby Cat (who's male) and Lily Cat.
Then, unexpectedly, along came Roxy—who won a formerly dogless family's love and whose story is now immortalized in a brand-new children's book, Roxy's Forever Home. Self-published, it features illustrations by Connecticut pet portrait artist Dina Marie Pratt and marks a dream come true for Pelham, a longtime freelancer and parenting columnist for the Hartford Courant. "I'd always wanted to write a children's book, and thought about different topics here and there, but nothing really jumped out at me," she says—until she began raising her "silly little brown mutt."
Rescued in Alton Park, Tenn., at the age of six weeks, Roxy had been lucky to survive. Abandoned by the man who had owned her mother, she—along with her mother and six siblings—had been fending for themselves and not doing so well. Two of the pups had been killed by cars by the time Melissa Adams, a rescue volunteer who fosters animals in her home, was able to intervene. "Melissa had given the man food for the dogs, and he just threw it away," Pelham says. "She thinks Roxy was only about a day away from dying of hunger and neglect."
Ultimately, Adams was able to restore all six surviving dogs to health and find them homes, but Roxy didn't find the Pelhams until she was sent to a second foster home in Farmington. "My friend Jan is also a foster mom," Pelham says. "My three sons went to her house all the time to play with Roxy after she arrived, and they pestered us for a solid month to adopt her. At first, I didn't even consider it—but then Roxy won me over, and it became a matter of convincing my husband." Likewise, he wasn't interested at all at first, but now, Pelham says, "he has a daughter." Roxy moved to her forever home just before Christmas, 2010.
She distinguished herself quickly. "She howls at aluminum foil," says Pelham. "It doesn't upset her, her tail is wagging; but when I take some out, no matter what she's doing, she comes over to investigate." She's also mastered a special trick—jumping through a hula hoop—and when she goes to the dog park, she takes on the big guys. "Roxy is 27 pounds, but she runs around with the Great Danes like she's their equal." And those family cats Baby and Lily, former rulers of the roost? "She chases them all the time. They absolutely hate her," Pelham says, laughing.
Roxy is also a prize-winner, having entered a contest last summer that earned her the title of "most medium dog." It's an accolade that seems to fit the fact that her bloodline is a mystery. "We had her DNA tested, and the results came up almost half 'unknown,'" Pelham says. She may look like a mix of beagle and "bully" breed, but the results that are known indicate she's more Cavalier King Charles spaniel and Great Dane (no wonder she prefers their company).
She may be merely medium in size, but Roxy's a huge hero to the youngest students at Farmington's Noah Wallace School, who rush to greet her when she arrives with Teresa to pick up Carter Pelham at the end of the day. "They'll flip out at this book," Teresa Pelham says. As a way of selling the book (and the importance of animal welfare), she plans to tour Connecticut schools with Roxy as special guest. "So far, none of the schools I've contacted have said 'no'; in fact, all of the people I've talked to have said, 'Our principal is so excited to meet your dog!' I had no idea so many people were interested in animal rescue."
Learn more about Roxy's Forever Home at roxysforeverhome.com. Proceeds from sales of the book go to support animal rescue efforts.A Happy Tail Hits the Streets