Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Save Our Maxine –An Emotional Plight On A Leash

Sarah has been training dogs for over 25 years. She has met and trained dogs from all over the world but she recently met Maxine, a dog from a place most of us have never been. Maxine was born in Afghanistan and raised on an army base in the eastern part of the country. The details of her amazing odyssey sound like a Hollywood movie, but Maxine’s story is true—and it’s not over yet. Her story is one of devotion, freedom, change and the emotional costs of life on a leash…and it parallels the plight of our returning soldiers and their stateside families.

maxine, sarah, amanda
Maxine longs for stability and structure.
During the spring of 2010, a stray dog wandered on to an active military base in eastern Afghanistan. Nicknamed “Max” by the soldiers, she quickly won their hearts. When Maxine ran afoul of a military injunction against camp dogs, the soldiers took action and Maxine’s long journey—one that involved a bridge collapse, a secret Afghan dog shelter, a well-orchestrated social media campaign and me—began.
Right now, Maxine is living with Amanda, the woman who orchestrated the online relocation efforts. Amanda works long hours and Maxine, unfamiliar with confinement, isolation and routine, is becoming increasingly confused and fearful. She has bonded to Amanda like a drowning victim to a lifeguard—and Amanda is getting pulled under from the weight of Maxine’s emotional need. Compounding Amanda’s dilemma is a looming deadline: in November, she is moving to an apartment that does not accept dogs and Maxine will need a new home.
Sarah was called in to help Maxine understand and adapt to the drastic changes in her life and prepare her for a new and permanent home…and she thinks it is the most difficult case in my 25-year career.
When Sarah arrived at Amanda’s Stamford, Connecticut home, she discovered a highly defensive, agitated dog. At the end of Amanda’s leash, Max lunged and bit at anyone who approached. Gently, Sarah took control of the leash and Maxine’s transformation was startling. Free from her perceived role as Amanda’s protector, this travel-stressed, culture-shocked and combat-weary dog is desperate for stability and leadership.
During the course of her day-long evaluation and consultation, Maxine began to respond positively. It is clear that Maxine will require a special home, but her options—once grim—are looking up. An ongoing effort to rehabilitate and re-home Maxine is underway, and adoption applications are now being accepted.
Coming Home: An Afghan dog in America

Cut Away Media Reel


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