Roxy N. - August 2020 Volunteer of the Month

Congratulations to Roxy N., nominated and chosen as the August 2020 Volunteer of the Month. Roxy is a volunteer polymath, contributing her skills and energy to foster care for puppies, volunteer training, adoption outreach, and even showcasing adoption candidates on KOIN’s Second Chance Pets feature.

Dogs & Rescue

As a child, Roxy had one request for her parents- a dog. Roxy was the kid hoping for a puppy to pop out of a big box with a bow on top every birthday and holiday. For years, they weren’t able to have a dog in their home. Then, after a challenging life-changing event, Roxy’s mom finally brought a dog home, and Roxy was elated. That was only the beginning of experiences to feed Roxy’s love of dogs, and her drive to help animals in trouble.

Right out of high school, one of Roxy’s friends had a black lab puppy they weren’t able to keep named Wilson, and posted their profile on Myspace to see if anyone could help. Roxy was there to the rescue to give Wilson a home.

A year later, Roxy saw a social media post about a German Shepherd in Moses Lake, Washington- four and a half hours away- and at risk of being euthanized. Roxy hopped in the car to bring this new dog, Jasper, back home.

Foster Beginnings

Owning dogs while renting can be challenging, so Roxy worked hard and bought her first home at 22 years old before adopting another dog, a pitbull named Patsy. Patsy opened Roxy’s eyes to the stigma surrounding pit bulls and bully breeds, challenges they face, and extra support they may need to find homes. Roxy began serving as a foster volunteer for Born Again Pit Bull Rescue, and others.

One of Roxy’s first memorable experiences as a foster volunteer involved a super high-energy pit bull named Arthur. Arthur was the best, worst dog you could ever imagine. “Arthur was a last chance, if you will, and I’m a sucker for last chances,” Roxy says. “We would run him, bike with him, he was super high energy. He was amazing with other dogs, great with people, a complete love, and an utter terror. He chewed everything! He also found an amazing home, and moved to Arizona with his new family.”

Volunteer Polymath

Roxy began volunteering and fostering for Multnomah County Animal Services in early 2013, in an effort to help more animals in need. Roxy started out as a foster volunteer, taking in dogs and puppies as needed, in addition to her three fur-babies.

By September 2013, Roxy had attended a new volunteer orientation, and began to volunteer in the dog kennels, learning more about socializing and training dogs waiting for adoption in the shelter.

Training and Mentoring

Roxy is currently a volunteer trainer and mentor, showing other volunteers the ropes of volunteering in the kennels. It’s a natural fit and passion for Roxy. Professionally, Roxy works in human resources, and has a knack for onboarding, training, and providing resources that people need to succeed in their role. “Working with HR is not unlike the associations people make with animal shelters. They may associate the place or the role with difficult experiences and have a hard time with it initially, but ultimately we’re just here to help.”

Adoption Outreach

In 2016, Roxy began organizing and leading other volunteers at monthly Saturday adoption outreach events. It’s a role requiring a lot of time and work, but Roxy enjoyed connecting with other volunteers, and helping to find homes for pets at the outreach. Roxy’s philosophy for success was to talk with other volunteers, find out what they enjoy- whether it’s talking with potential adopters, or handling and comforting animals waiting for adoption, and let them do what they love to do.

Second Chance Pets

As part of Roxy’s outreach role, she volunteered to feature adoptable pets on KOIN’s Second Chance Pets program. Roxy braved the camera once every other month to highlight adoptable pet personalities in the hope that a potential adopter would be watching the news segment.

Pitties in Pink

Roxy also supported the famous Pitties in Pink float in various parades, as an advocate for bully breeds and shelter pets.

Puppy Foster & Hospice

“You know the saying that we work hard to give our pets a better life? That’s what my life feels like.” Roxy moved from her smaller home to a house with more bedrooms, a garage, and a large backyard in order to have more space for owned and fostered dogs. Roxy has made many of her own construction improvements, including building custom doors in place of temporary baby gates to separate dogs and puppies, and even a garage kennel with a doggy-door to a fenced outdoor run, with reinforced foundations to prevent digging.

Roxy has shouldered heavy burdens in the important role of a puppy and dog foster. Roxy is considered one of the go-to foster volunteers for puppies. While adorable, puppies are a ton of work, and require frequent monitoring, and extensive socialization in a short timeframe to introduce them to different people, animals, and to the world around them in general. “Many people underestimate the amount of time and training puppies need,” Roxy says, “from the type of people they should meet- children, seniors, wearing hats and uniforms, with beards, holding umbrellas - to different surfaces they’ll have to walk on- carpet, tile, hardwood, concrete- and everything in between.”

Roxie fostered a Rottweiler puppy named Kahlua in early 2019, who was only a few months old when he was found injured, and brought to the shelter. While Kahlua was initially recovering from leg and paw injuries in Roxy’s care, the MCAS veterinary team discovered that Kahlua had a fatal hereditary neurological defect that occurs in Rottweilers. While dogs with the condition normally only live from nine months to a year, Roxy cared for Kahlua in hospice for six months until it was his time.

One of Roxy’s favorite aspects of fostering dogs is the opportunity to meet with potential adopters and lead them through the adoption process. “Being able to meet the adopters and see where the dogs are going is amazing,” Roxy says. “I love the picture updates I receive. One adopter even gave me flowers! People ask me how I could give these dogs and puppies up from fostering, and this is how. Knowing that they’re going to an amazing home is the best feeling, it’s everything.”

Post -adoption networking has shed light on the small world we live in for Roxy. Friends of friends have adopted Roxy’s fosters, and have stayed in touch afterwards. Roxy discovered that the owners of Crimson and Clover, two German Shepherd puppies she had fostered, now live in her mom’s neighborhood in Gresham. While visiting family in Scappoose, Roxy saw someone walking a companion pig down the street. A week later, someone called to meet her foster dog, Abe. It was the Scappoose family with the pig, and it was the perfect family for Abe!

Flexible Volunteerism

As a volunteer, Roxy has been able to fill the roles and shifts that she cares about, meet her interests, and fit with the demands of her work / home schedule at any given time. It’s something that all volunteers can consider- that there are many different roles and possibilities to serve and try new things, and you don’t have to fill those roles indefinitely in order to make a difference. Roxy’s efforts save lives by nurturing vulnerable fosters, and promoting adoption through her many efforts as a mentor and outreach volunteer.

“Roxy is always there when you need her and is one of the best to work with,” says Jodi L., long-time animal care staffer and Foster & Rescue Coordinator. “She is open to challenges and knows what her limits are, which is very endearing in this type of work.”

Thank you, Roxy, for your service to the pets and people of Multnomah County.