Maddie Finds Love
In this installment of Barkzy’s Stories, a series devoted to the stories of dogs who’ve been rescued by the Barkzy community, we’re putting the spotlight on Maddie, a mutt of many lineages, with poodle, terrier, and more thrown in the mix, but for anyone who asks, her family refers to her as a “Wack-a-Doodle.” She was rescued by Barkzy co-founder, Dave Schwartz, and lives together with Dave’s wife and two sons. Sometimes, she acts less like a dog and more like a human being. According to Dave, she is “totally zen” and in tune with every one of his family member’s needs, including himself.
It took two years for my son, Scotty, to talk my wife and I into adopting a dog. He was relentless, and hardly a day passed without him asking, either once or multiple times, “Can we get a dog, please?” We finally rewarded his persistence, albeit reluctantly, with a “yes.” Since this would be our first ever family dog, we did what most people would: we took to the Internet in search of one. We eventually landed on Petfinder, a website of adoptable pets, where every photo of a dog called out to us, with eyes that seemed to say, “Pick me!”
Easy as it was to give in to any old sad puppy face, my family and I were looking to adopt a very particular type of dog. We wanted an adult or senior-aged dog—a puppy would be a handful for both my wife and I and our kids. And we wanted a “hypoallergenic breed,” like a poodle or terrier mix that wouldn’t trigger my family’s allergies. It wasn’t a tall order (at least I didn’t think so), but it took a long time to find The One for us. After months of searching, we finally partnered with Fluffs & Scruffs, a dog rescue organization located in Riverside, California. They offered a wonderful program, part of which involved home visits. Without much to lose at this point, we decided to invite them over to our home with a dog that their team thought would be the perfect match for my family and, of course, met the parameters I set.
It wasn’t unlike a blind date: in the week leading up to the meeting with our potential dog, my family and I were all nervous. Would we like our new dog? Would they like us? We waited with bated breath until the day of Fluff & Scruffs’ home visitation, during which they brought in a dog that looked less like a dog and more like a used mop. Maddie’s fur was sticky and matted, and she looked as though she had been neglected for a very long time. This dog was a far cry from the ones we saw displayed on the Internet, but there was something about her that made it easy to look past her physical state. Her disposition shone through: she was calm and was kind towards our boys, who were our priority throughout the process. Fortunately, they took a liking to Maddie. You could even say, it was love at first sight.
We knew we had to have Maddie, so we applied to adopt her, and after one month of waiting, picked her up from her foster home. Apart from my family’s first impression on Maddie, little else was known about her backstory—and no one, not even the organization she came from—could tell us. But, her calm demeanor led me to believe that she had known what it was to love and be loved by a human. The only thing that was capable of interrupting her total state of zen was loud noises, which could lead her to hide and cower away in fear. And funnily enough, she was found on July 5th, which makes us think that she escaped from wherever she came from on July 4th, a day where fireworks are usually set off.
Like many newly adopted dogs, it took a few weeks for Maddie to adjust to her new home. She refused to eat her food, which was a long process of trial and error until we found a raw food brand named Small Batch that she actually liked. She would also sneak into the family room to relieve herself on the rug, an accident that often went unnoticed until the smell gave it away. Luckily, she stopped using the rug when we took her out for more potty breaks throughout the day. And while Maddie was still the sweet dog we met, acquainting her with a brand-new life wasn’t without its difficulties for both parties. It took time for her to finally warm up to us, save for my wife, who Maddie declared as her person from day one. But, now she treats us like family, and vice-versa. In fact, my wife and I see her as our third child.
In that sense, we’ve shared many firsts with Maddie. I remember the first time she went on a trip to the groomer—and the shock that followed when we picked her up. They blow-dried her hair so big, she looked like she had eaten the original Maddie. I also remember the first time she ever barked, which happened three months after we adopted her. It happened on a vacation trip, when we left her behind for the pool. It was hard to believe all that noise was coming from Maddie (our Maddie!) because we assumed that something in the past had traumatized her into silence. But, hearing her felt like hearing a newborn baby calling us by our names for the very time. Now, she uses her voice plenty, like when the gardener or exterminator comes prowling around her yard.
Before Maddie, we never understood what pet owners were talking about when they spoke about dog love. We thought that it was an exaggeration, and nothing compared to romantic, platonic, or parental love. But, it took us by surprise several years ago, when we adopted Maddie. You might say we get it now, and today, it’s difficult to imagine our lives without Maddie in it. So much so, we’ve become used to, and even come to expect, her to carry out her usual routine. Whether it’s to rest her chin on an open lap, request for a belly rub without shame, or the fact that she jumps straight into the car every time we’re about to leave, even if it’s always made her nervous, Maddie’s become a central figure in our household.
As our boys grow older and into their adolescent years, Maddie is the glue that brings us together at the end of the day. Our shared love for Maddie has become a way for my wife and I to bond with our kids and with each other. More importantly, she’s taught us all about what it means to love unconditionally. She continues to shower us with affection on the days we are at our most human, and proves to us that this is possible between people, too.
Want to share your dog’s adoption story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us all about your four-legged family member and the impact they’ve made on you and your loved ones’ lives.