In the summer of last year during a house raid as part of a drugs investigation, police discovered an exhausted, withdrawn and frightened 11-year-old Bull Mastiff.
Roxy was found locked away in a dank, dark cupboard under the stairs, with not much more than a pillow for company.
Further investigation into how she came to be there, suggested that Roxy had in fact lived her whole life in that cupboard with her son Drago, where they had both been used for breeding. Their puppies, born and kept in the dingy cupboard, had all been sold for £50 - £100 each.
Bags of dog faeces found in the front room of the house, suggested the house wasn’t lived in, but simply used for illegal activity.
Before the raid, Drago had been passed on to someone else within the gang, for hiding.
Desperately sad to be all alone, without her only companion, Roxy was seized and passed on to NAWT Berkshire for rehabilitative care.
Natasha Tarrant, Animal Care Leader at the centre, explained:
“I’ll never forget the day Roxy arrived.
I had been forewarned of her background and I knew there’d be tough times ahead if we were to rehabilitate this beautiful girl, who deserved so much better than the lot she’d been given.
I could only imagine the horror of living an entire life of 11 years confined to a tiny cupboard under the stairs. My heart shattered for her. I had to help her.
I spent a long time getting to know Roxy and gradually proving to her that I was here to help. Humans had been so unkind to her in the past, I really couldn’t blame her for being wary of me.
Slowly but surely, Roxy and I became friends. It was a wonderful feeling earning the trust and affection of this sweet and gentle giant.”
Roxy had missed out on so many important life experiences, which had left her terrified of all other dogs. Sadly this wasn’t something that could be rectified with training, so it was accepted that she’d require human companions only.
However, in the back of our minds, we knew there was one dog out there who could offer Roxy a canine companionship that wouldn’t frighten her. There was one friend she still longed for – the only friend who truly understood the hardships she’d lived through; her son Drago.
Finally, four months after Roxy’s arrival at NAWT, we received the call we’d been hoping for. Drago had been found and he was on his way in.
A reunion plan was immediately put together, to allow Roxy and Drago to see each other, so we could determine whether or not they remembered each other and whether their bond remained.
The entire team was soon in floods of tears when Roxy immediately recognised Drago and the two dogs expressed a joy that had been so sorely missing from both their lives up until now.
Mother and son were reunited in a big, spacious room within the wide open spaces of Trindledown Farm. Their future began to look bright as plans were put into place to rehome them together, so they could experience the life every ‘Man’s Best Friend’ deserves.
Sadly, with their ‘happily ever after’ within reaching distance, tragedy struck again. Roxy began to lose coordination, leaving her unsteady on her feet.
A vet examination told us she had a progressive disease within her spinal cord. Her condition would only get worse and leaving her health to deteriorate would be painful and cruel.
Roxy had fought such a hard fight all her life, overcoming unimaginable cruelty yet still finding forgiveness for people in her heart, but this disease proved to be one fight too many. She had no fight left.
A crippling blow to Natasha and the rest of the team, they had to say a teary goodbye. As she held her in her final moments, Natasha made Roxy a promise that she would take good care of Drago and that he would find happiness. She says:
“Dogs hide their pain very well, and it’s likely Roxy had been suffering with this disease for a little while.
I sometimes wonder if she had been waiting for Drago’s return, for information that he was safe, before she could give in to her symptoms and let us know there was a problem.
I don’t know if that’s true, but whether it is or not, I definitely won’t let my friend down. I’m going to make sure Drago enjoys the happy future that both he and Roxy deserved. I hope that helps my beautiful Roxy rest easy.”
Since the devastating loss of Roxy, Natasha has spent months socialising Drago, introducing him to all the little things he’s never seen in his seven years of life under the stairs.
Her dedication to keeping her promise to Roxy often sees Natasha at the centre collecting Drago, even on her scheduled days off, when she’ll pick him up to take him on adventures further afield. Every trip is designed to teach him something new that will prepare him for life in a loving home.
Whilst Drago’s internal scars have left him with some very specific homing requirements, which will make finding the perfect home that bit harder, Natasha won’t waste any time in showing him how to be happy during his time in rescue. He’s safe now and he’s loved, even if his ‘happily ever after’ hasn’t come along just yet.
Will you sponsor an animal carer like Natasha for dogs like Roxy and Drago?
By giving £5 today, you can give a frightened dog who’s never seen the light of day a companion who will never give up on them.
Please help the animals still waiting.