Roxanne and Buster, the Boston Terriers

Lisa and Virgil Thompson
Salem, VA

Words simply cannot express how grateful we are for Dr. Maxwell and her work in helping us keep our two rescue Boston Terriers in our home and all of us finally enjoying our home together. Roxanne, our female Boston is a 10 year-old owner surrender to a shelter in North Carolina. We had no intention of adopting a senior, unspayed female after suddenly losing our 3rd and last remaining Boston in November 2015 at the age of 8. But after several months, we decided to rescue again. Through a series of bizarre circumstances, way too convoluted to go into, we came home from the BT rescue in NC, with an unspayed, not yet vetted or fostered, beautiful and very sweet Roxanne. The surrendering owner told the rescue that she could no longer keep Roxanne because she was going back to work after 10 years and that Roxanne had started nipping her when she would crate her to leave for work. The story didn’t really add up to the rescue, because they hadn’t witnessed these behaviors since taking possession of Roxanne, however, they didn’t have her a full 24 hours before she came home to VA with us.

The weekend prior to bringing Roxanne home, we were notified that we had been approved to adopt a little male Boston from TN named Buster. We were thrilled, because we had no idea at that time we would have Roxanne. But she was so sweet and well behaved, so we were excited that we would have two Bostons in our home.

That excitement soon turned to heartbreak and terror when we picked up Buster from transport and watched our sweet Roxanne come completely unglued at the sight of him. And he was terrified and so were we! We had no experience with dog aggression and we had never seen anything like this. We’ve had Bostons in our home for 13 years, none from the same litter, males and female, each coming into the home at different times, and they all always got along. We never crated. They just lived together in peace and if they didn’t love one another, they certainly tolerated each other well. 

But Roxanne could not stand the sight of Buster. She would get so worked up her howl would turn to a blood-curdling scream, and that’s when she wasn’t trying to attack him. Which she did at every opportunity, viciously and without hesitation. We had no idea what to do and little Buster had no idea what he had been brought into. He had been socialized and knew to routine of avoidance, but that didn’t deter Roxanne. She snapped at the very sight of him. We kept them separated for 2 weeks, my husband and I sleeping in separate bedrooms, with each of them on leash at all times. Thankfully our vet suggested Dr. Maxwell and she scheduled her first visit after I emailed and explained what we were up against.

This journey began in late April. Dr. Maxwell worked with Roxanne and helped us to identify triggers that might agitate her to excitement which she would then project directly onto Buster through attack. We learned to closely monitor and document any occasions when she attacked Buster or we intervened to prevent attack, and we also worked to desensitize her to his presence and his movement with positive reinforcement. Through lots of exercises, lots of treats and praises, lots of tears and prayers…and with our Angel to the Rescue, Dr. Max…by July, Roxanne was able to be off leash in the house, supervised with Buster. And by late July, here are our two little angels, sitting side by side waiting for their night time treat…unrestrained and ready to sleep with the rest of the pack (their humans) in the same bed. We now know through medical history and procedure, that Roxanne was used for breeding, Probably the only other contact she had previously with another dog.  We were trying to save Roxanne and Buster through rescue, and Dr. Maxwell saved us all. Thank you Dr. Max from the bottom of our hearts for helping us keep our babies and enjoy our home again!