Local woman’s thoughts are on the pets in her life

Roxann Freezer

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Are pets sensitive enough to detect when there is a problem in the  home, say a family member is having a bad day or a rough time of it?

Retiree Roxann Freezer certainly believes animals can pick up signals of an owner feeling ill or unhappy.

In December 2011, she and her husband, Harley, took in an emaciated, stray black lab-mix, believed to be at least a year old.

“She was very thin. She had a skin condition. She also had separation anxiety for a couple of months,” Freezer said of the dog, named Emma.

“We put up notes and signs, but nobody claimed her,” Freezer said, so Emma stayed with the Cogan Station couple, which already had an older male yellow lab named Luca.

Within a matter of weeks after Emma became a member of the family, Freezer suddenly was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Following three operations, Freezer soon found herself in the throes of eight weeks of chemotherapy followed by seven additional weeks of radiation.

“It is not at all a fun thing to go through,” she said.

“Every time I would come home from a chemo session, I would feel ill and sick,” Freezer said. As soon as she laid on the couch, she would find Emma right by her side.

“Emma would crawl up on the couch and lay her head on my shoulder. When I felt better, she would get down and lay on the floor,” Freezer said.

“I believe she had this sense that I was sick. I think that was her way of saying ‘Thanks for taking me in.’ This was her way of saying ‘I’m going to help you, since you helped me,’ “ Freezer said.

Having a pet “lifts your spirits. They are always happy to see you,” said Freezer, who has had a love for dogs all her life.

She believes that both Emma and Luca were instrumental in her recovery from cancer.

“My dogs give me purpose to get up every day, they give me motivation. I get out and walk with them and play ball with them daily,” she said.

“Exercise, being motivated and having a positive attitude, all that helps you recover” and her dogs were a major part of her recovery, Freezer said,

“Animals have a way of making everyone feel better. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog, a cat or a rabbit,” she said.

Freezer has been cancer-free for nearly five years.

Freezer and Emma have developed a special bond.

“To this day, if I’m upset about something, Emma will come up to me and paw me or lick a tear off my face,” she said.

Her love for dogs led her two years ago to begin volunteering at the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She walks dogs as well as helps out at SPCA events.

“I really felt like I wanted to give something back. I had a second chance at life, so why couldn’t I help other dogs by walking them, making their day  better. I really love doing it,” she said.