Roxie the Counting Dog
Amazing, outstanding, unreal — these are just a few words that could be used to describe the talent of Roxie the dog.
Jim Stephens has owned Roxie for almost five years, and throughout these years he has taught her to count. Add, subtract, multiply, Roxie can do it all. She can also count the number of people standing in a room as well as how many points there are on a star.
This is the second dog Stephens has taught to count. The first was Maggie, named after Maggie Valley. Maggie was a miniature black Lab mix and it took him seven years to teach her to count.
She was videoed for the show "Pet Star" and was invited to be on the show before it went off air. Stephens was devastated when he lost Maggie, but thanks to his son, he found the perfect replacement and companion.
Stephens' son found Roxie on Craigslist. “Free to a good home” is what the ad read. Roxie is a mixed breed and was almost 2 when she moved into her new home with Stephens.
“She is such a good dog,” said Stephens. “I don’t know why anyone would give her up.”
When he first got her, he began training her. He explained that every day when he wakes up the first thing he does is play country music. He said that Roxie truly listens to the music while he has breakfast and in a way, it soothes her. During this time he practices with her asking things like, “What is two plus two,” and if she barks four times, she gets a treat.
“Dogs are like children,” said Stephens. "They have feelings too. You have to teach them and train them to be gentle, love them and get excited for them when they do something right.”
During a demonstration, Stephens showed off some of Roxie’s most impressive tricks asking her questions like two times two, two plus four, or 10 minus eight. At one point he even asked, “If you add two plus two plus two plus one, and then you subtract two, how many is that?”
Each time Roxie barked the correct amount of times. After he asks her a question, spectators can actually see her titling her head like she is pausing to think about what the answer will be.
The favorite trick of the day was when Stephens asked Roxie, “How many pretty ladies do you see?”
With three women in the room, she barked three times. But her barking got the attention of a couple more women who walked into the room.
Stephens spun her around and again asked the same question. This time she barked five times and all five women were amazed by Roxie's abilities.
“It takes patience and practice. You have to stick with it everyday, and never quit,” said Stephens.
He and Roxie are residents of Waynesville where he continues to train her and love her every day.