It took a lot of baby steps and patience to transform Maddie from a terrified, snarling dog that huddled in the corner of her kennel at the Patti Dale Animal Shelter to the friendly, outgoing canine companion that today completes the Clemett family.
Maddie is one of the many Furry Tail Ending success stories to come out of Langley Animal Protection Society over the past few years.
"If you met Maddie today, you would never guess how uncomfortable she used to be around people," explained LAPS trainer Gwen Fitzsimmons.
"When a gentleman found her wandering loose in Langley, he brought her to LAPS. At first, Maddie avoided all contact with people," Fitzsimmons explained, noting the dog was brought into the shelter in November 2010.
Initially, this lab-pit bull cross was described as fearful but otherwise physically healthy pup. She refused treats and growled at LAPS staff when they approached.
"It was hard for this dog to trust," Fitzsimmons said. "But little by little, Maddie began to come out of her shell."
The LAPS trainer explained how she spent a lot of one-on-one time with Maddie to first gain her trust then extended the dog's circle of friends to include other LAPS staff.
"She started greeting staff with a whole body wag and lots of kisses, and we began to see what kind of dog Maddie could become," Fitzsimmons said.
Unfortunately, her new bonds still didn't transfer to strangers.
"Maddie was still very nervous around people, even if they stayed across the room," the trainer said, explaining how she went to work associating meeting new people with treats and fun for the dog believed to be less than a year when she came into the shelter as a stray.
"We took baby steps," Fitzsimmons said, "rewarding Maddie for every positive interaction no matter how small. Over time, the dog learned that strangers mean treats and walks and other fun things."
Finally, after an intense training program, Maddie was ready to be adopted. But finding the right family could take some time.
Melissa and Chris Clemett were still recovering from the loss of their last dog, Axel, who had died six months earlier of liver failure.
They didn't have any immediate plans to adopt, but Melissa saw a picture of Maddie and a few other adoptable dogs on the LAPS website (www.lapsbc.ca) and the couple decided to drive out to LAPS to take a look.
Maddie clearly knew a good thing when she sees it, Fitzsimmons said. "Because when the Clemetts arrived, she turned on the charm, showing off her affectionate, energetic personality to its best advantage.
Although Melissa had their hearts set on a bigger dog, Chris fell in love with a brindle marked pup named Maddie. They took her and a few other LAPS dogs out for a walk in the paths behind Patti Dale Animal Shelter, went home and talked about it. Returned to visit Maddie again, and quickly agreed to take her home.
Exactly 143 days after she was brought to LAPS, Maddie was adopted, becoming a permanent member of the Clemett family on April 19, 2011.
"She's so cute and so affectionate," Melissa said.
Admittedly, it took Maddie about a month to settle into her new home.
She and the resident cat, Leroy, had to establish some ground rules, but are now great friends.
"She's good with people, other dogs, and gets along with our cat," Melissa said.
In fact, the pair is almost inseparable, spending much of its time sleeping and playing together in their Fort Langley yard.
"Shy little Maddie is now boisterous and outgoing," Fitzsimmons said.
She keeps active with daily walks, the odd game of fetch and playtime with children and other dogs.
"Her favourite toys are a softball, a deflated soccer ball, and a blue stuffed rabbit. She loves splashing around in the river at Derby Reach Park, although she hasn't yet expanded her skill set to include swimming," Fitzsimmons said.
Maddie's having the time of her life, especially since she's never short of love or cookies.
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