By Lynn Stacy-Smith
Damien Puckler of the television show Grimm was not looking for a dog six years ago. In fact, although he grew up with animals and was a tremendous animal lover, it was because he had such a strong love of dogs and experience with dogs that he knew that his life was too busy at the time. Between his professional endeavors as an actor, stuntman, stunt/fight advisor, martial arts expert and fitness trainer, Damien did not feel that he had the time needed to be a responsible dog owner.
Fortunately Roxy didn’t care about any of that. Roxy had her own master plan and was not taking no for an answer.
Six years ago Damien owned a gym and was teaching boot camp on weekends in a park near his gym. He had seen Roxy running around the area on occasion, always alone and without a collar. He assumed she was a stray dog or perhaps lived in a nearby house. One day he was finished with the first boot camp session of the day and sat down on a park bench to take a break. All of a sudden he felt a furry head resting on his lap.
Damien started petting the dog’s head and played with her a little. She was jumping around and acting playful. When they were finished playing he headed towards his car. Roxy followed him, jumped right into the car and sat and waited to go for a ride. He got her out of the car, tried to have her stay, but she jumped right back in. They went through this several times, he got her out, she jumped straight back in. His gym was right around the corner, so he let her accompany him to the gym with the intention of taking her back to the second session of boot camp, at which point he would take her back to the park where he found her, or rather where she found him.
After the second session of boot camp, they went round and around in the same game, in the car, out of the car, in the car, back out. Finally Damien gave in and said to her, “Ok, you can come with me.” Of course this was to only be a temporary situation, or so Damien thought.
“I went back for three weeks to try to find an owner, but nobody was missing her, nobody asking anything about her. I wasn’t sure if she belonged to a homeless person, or I had no idea,” Damien recollected, “After three to four weeks I was walking her and someone said, ‘You’re walking Gracie’ and told me the house where she lived. I went to the house, nobody was there.”
Damien left a note at the house, and by now he was not sure if he wanted to return her or keep her, but he wanted to do the right thing. Finally the owner called Damien, walked into the gym and identified Gracie/Roxy as his dog. Then he asked Damien if he wanted her. Damien was surprised but the owner explained that they didn’t have enough time for her, she was too high energy, and they never walked her. By that time Roxy had found her way into Damien’s heart and she has been his dog ever since. “I didn’t have time for her then, but life knows when you kinda need something like that.”
It turns out that although Damien originally thought he would not have enough time for her, Roxy was the perfect fit for Damien’s busy life. She knew what she was doing when she selected an owner who was into physical fitness, running, hiking. “She used to do three to four boot camps a day with me, running 5 miles each time,” Damien said, “I think that’s why she’s still in great shape today.”
It is easy to imagine Roxy as a young and energetic three-year-old dog slipping out of her former owner’s house, where her needs were not being met, and spending time at the park to seek a new and more suitable home. You can almost picture her checking out all of the various people, noticing the physically active young man who ran the boot camp and thinking, “I’ll take him, that’s the man who I’m going to make my owner.”
When Damien was trying to find out if Roxy was lost, he took her to the vet to see if she was micro chipped. The vet could not find one that day so Damien started calling out ever possible dog name that he could think of to see if she would react. One of Damien’s human friends is Roxy Balboa, a retired Professional Muay Thai Fighter. Roxy’s attitude reminded him of his friend; when he called out her name she reacted to that name immediately. Once he found out her previous name was Gracie he decided to keep the name Roxy since it was more of a feisty name and was suited for her personality. Damien laughed when he talked about the fact that now that he and Roxy live at Lake Balboa in California that she truly is Roxy of Balboa.
Roxy, a Pharaoh hound/Basenji/Thai Ridgeback mix, displays several of the behaviors of the breeds in her lineage. Damien talked about her propensity to sit straight up like a Sphinx from the Pharaoh hound in her. During her younger days she used to run extremely fast like a hound, and be able to jump 6-foot high fences from a standing position just like a Basenji.
Since Roxy is as loveable as she is active she quickly became the mascot of boot camp. “It was great because people came to boot camp who would be scared of dogs and would ask if I could put her on a leash,” Damien explained, “One family was really scared of her and after a few weeks they were her best friend.”
For a while Damien and Roxy lived on the same property as a home that housed children with Autism. The children were often out in the yard near the home that Roxy and Damien shared. “The children did not connect with people that well but they immediately clicked with Roxy,” Damien explained, “The owner asked for someone to come over and train her and have her work with the kids.” Roxy worked with the children for two years, and both she and the children loved it. Damien relayed a story in which one child cut his arm and Roxy ran to get the caretaker for help, she was that emotionally in touch with the children and so caring about their well being.
Watch for the second part of the Roxy and Damien Puckler story in our next Canine Caviar Pet Food blog on Wednesday, 10/01/14