Unlike many abused animals, Maddie’s tale has a happy ending.
Now living with her caring family in Summerland, it wasn’t that long ago the golden retriever-poodle cross had no life, no future and no love.
When she and the other 15 dogs were seized from a Clearwater breeder, they were in terrible condition, according to branch manager Corinne Ross of the South Okanagan Similkameen SPCA where 10 of the canines were taken initially.
“They were matted and filthy, probably the saddest ones were the golden retrievers (including Maddie) they stuck their noses into the corner and didn’t come out, it was the saddest thing. It was heart breaking, I can cry thinking about them now,” said Ross. “They were mostly terrified of people and we called her Maddie because she had this big matting on her back. She was in rough shape and had lots of health issues but she was probably the most friendly of all of them.”
Enter the Tiessen family, Christy, Ed and their daughters Megan, 10 and Ashley, 7, who had been on the SPCA’s waiting list for a non-shedding breed.
When Maddie was well enough they decided to provide foster care for her at their home and not long afterwards adopted the four-year-old as their own.
“Maddie was so skinny, you could actually see every single rib,” said Christy. “Just with her laying there which she did most of the time because she didn’t have enough energy, you could see her heart beating from across the room.
“Maddie didn’t wag her tail at alI when we first saw her. Don’t think she had any reason to, she didn’t understand what happiness was but when we took our girls in (to the SPCA) and they got down on their knees and hugged her she wagged her tail, it was very sweet, she knew these are ‘my kids.’”
They got the new family member on Valentine’s Day last year and there was still snow on the ground. Christy still remembers the dog’s reaction when she believes Maddie saw grass for the first time.
“She was afraid of it, she didn’t know how to step on it and when she finally stepped on the grass she just started rolling on it and to this day she rolls in the grass every time she’s out, she runs and rolls on it,” said Christy. “She’s had a lot of challenges and everybody says she is so lucky she has you as a family, but no, no, no, it’s the other way around, she is an amazing dog.
“She still has a sad face sometimes but when you see that dog smile you know she’s smiling.”
Maddie’s health issues, likely due to malnourishment, included sight and digestion problems and she also had to learn about walking on floors and to negotiate stairs.
A good student, the dog soon accomplished those feats and much more.
“We had to change the handles on our doors from levers to round door knobs because she can flip the dead bolt lock and unlock the door, flip the lever and leave anytime she wanted,” said Christy. “It’s like once she got a taste of freedom that was it, she didn’t want to be locked up anymore. She doesn’t like being alone.”
Maddie now travels just about everywhere with her folks, including back to the SPCA for visits and also took part in last year’s Paws for the Cause Walk fundraiser for the shelter.
For the Tiessen’s, they cannot thank SPCA enough for bringing them together.
“If it wasn’t for the SPCA, she wouldn’t be with us today,” said Christy nodding in the direction of the rolling dog on the grass at Orchard Lake Park.
As for Maddie, she just smiles and wags her tail.
Paws for a Cause fundraiser
The Scotiabank and BC SPCA Paws for a Cause is one of the SPCA’s most important fundraising events. This year it takes place on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Gyro Park.
Registration opens at 8 a.m. and the 2.5 kilometre walk commences at 9 a.m. The fee is $25 for adult ($15 early bird), $10 youth ($6 early bird). Join a team, form a team or register as an individual at www.spca.bc.ca. This year’s event features music, a barbecue, coffee, bake sale, competitions, community vendors and more.