Monday, August 3, 2009

The remarkable recovery of Madison

I interrupt my series on getting the dogs owned by hoarders adjusted to normal life to write this special blog about a little pit bull mix named Madison.
In 2007, she and her littermates were cruelly burned by, allegedly, some teenagers in Detroit. She was the sole survivor and had serious burns on about 80 percent of her body. If you haven’t seen my full story, be sure to check it out (it’s in today’s edition).
The follow-up on Madison, who we reported on when the accident happened, was a very long story for me to write. And still, I just didn’t feel I included all the wonderful and interesting things I learned about the dog.
Saundra Hewitt, the surgeon at OVRS who adopted Madison, is great. She’s funny and down-to-earth, and here is a list of things she shared with me about sharing her life with Madison.
• With half of Madison’s body being hairless, winter time requires some clothing for Madison. Several of the staff members at OVRS have bought her stylish outfits, from light jackets to full-blown snowsuits that cover Madison’s rear legs.
“You have to keep in mind, I’m a surgeon,” Saundra said. “We don’t put bows in our dog’s hair. We don’t put clothes on our dogs. I had no idea what to do.
“I had an ER doctor who sent me a coat (for Madison), then she went out and bought like 10 of them. So I get up in the morning, I put on scrubs and then I have to figure out which outfit she’s going to wear today?”
• Saundra lives near the clinic and often walks to and from work. During one winter day, Madison was wearing one of her coats that does not fully cover her hairless butt and legs.
Saundra was walking home and decided to carry her tired dog, who thoroughly enjoys being carried with her front legs over Saundra’s shoulder, just like a child.
“This lady (in a car) pulls around me, I could see she’s really agitated,” Saundra said. “She pulls into the ditch and she’s laughing so hard because she just saw a bare bum and thought it was a kid.”
The lady was on the phone with police, reporting Saundra because she mistook Madison’s bare butt for a child’s.
• Madison’s injuries have not slowed her activity level one bit. Saundra reports that Madison has two speeds — full speed and no speed. Around 8 or 9 p.m., she tires out and begs to cuddle with Saundra.
Many people, seeing Madison’s hairless and injured rear end, feel sympathetic for her. Saundra said many people will make, “Oh, poor dog!” comments while they’re walking, even despite the fact that Madison pulls around both Saundra and her other dog, an aging Border Collie.
• Madison does almost everything every other dog does, with a few exceptions. She can only tackle a couple stairs at a time, and while she jumps at frisbees with no problem, she sometimes has problems sticking the landing.
• The staff at OVRS love having Madison around, so much so that many of them eagerly share their lunches with her.
Madison knows when lunchtime is, and she long ago figured out how to get out of the baby gate that kept her in Hewitt’s office during the day.
During lunchtime, it is reported that Madison can be found going room to room, getting a bite of everyone’s sandwich.
• Back to wintertime issues: Madison makes quick business of going potty when it’s cold out. Hewitt has ramps installed going to her door to make it easier for Madison, but in the winter time, the door has to stay open until Madison has finished going to the bathroom.
“She comes running up that ramp and she’s ready to go inside — she’ll run right into the door because she can’t stop very fast,” Saundra said.

Having personally met Madison, I’m very happy to learn that she’s got a fantastic home and some wonderful friends at OVRS.
Behavorist Theresa DePorter said it best:
“I think it’s inspiring for us to see her from beginning to end,” she said. “We can realize that we can all, dog or person, overcome whatever it is.
“Whatever this dog can do, we’re going to do it to the highest level and treat her as normal as possible.”


  1. Karen,

    Thanks for adding the personal little tid bits that really make this story special. We've wondered how this dog has adapted. The bit about carrying the dog home like a child makes me laugh :)


  2. Having met Madison twice now, the thing that amazed me the most both time is that, even after all she's been through, this dog has such a sweet temperament. Like Dr. Hewitt said in the video, she could have easily developed a terrible temperament from everything she went through but she turned out to be a sweet and friendly dog. I love happy endings.