by Robert Hudson
12 year old Maddison is a people dog! She loves meeting new people and greets them with affection. She lives with her older sister Twixie who just turned 17, and Kameron, her brother, is 16. There is also a one year old cat in the house who is bigger than all the dogs!
Maddison has a special gift: she is the ultimate lap dog and visits nursing homes where she can’t wait to climb up on a senior’s lap and shower them with love!
“Maddi started visiting a nursing home when she was three months old. My aunt lived there and I brought her in to show her off. My aunt had dementia. She would hold Maddi in her lap while I pushed her in her wheelchair. My aunt was so happy, she would tell everyone around, “This is Maddison. She’s my chihuahua”. Maddi sat wagging her tail, but she was calm as well. Maddi visited a few times a week until my aunt passed away. The activity director asked me if I would like to bring Maddi in to volunteer for pet therapy. I thought it was a wonderful idea. So Maddi and I started officially in 2011. She knew her commands and was certified through Paws for Friendship, an organization out of Florida.
Maddi has also been in hospitals to visit friends. She climbs up on their lap like she does at the nursing home. After getting a treat, she usually falls asleep!” Nancy Ambrose told me.
She went on to say “When most people first meet Maddi, they smile and say something about how small she is. They always ask how much she weighs. She weighs 5.5lbs. When they realize she can walk around on her own, they laugh because she’s so short. Many want to hold her right away.”
She is a great comforter and makes a difference in the lives of people she sees. “She’s almost like a baby because of her size and if she falls asleep in their arms they hold her like a baby. Many residents start talking about the pets they had when they were little, or when they raised a family.
One of the residents named Ed, had Alzheimer’s Disease. He never wanted to even look at Maddi. Over the weeks and months, he would start to look at her. He didn’t smile, just looked. More time went by and one day I saw him looking, I knelt down and asked if he would like to pet her. He did! The next week I asked if he wanted to hold her and he said yes. I carefully put her in his lap. She sat down and looked up at him. He laughed and had a huge smile on his face. He even talked to her! The staff was amazed. Many of us had tears of joy seeing the reaction. Each time we visited after that, Ed always wanted to hold her, talk to her and laugh.”
She makes people smile. “I dress Maddison up as it adds one more thing people can talk about, laugh at, and comment on her dress or outfit. They love it! Many are excited to see what she is wearing when she walks in. She always dresses up in dresses or special outfits for Halloween. She has been a cowgirl, Cinderella, Elsa from Frozen, Snow White and many other characters.
Maddi is Santa at Christmas as we always do a Christmas project to collect things for the activity department or stuffed animals for the residents. The first time we did it we received 250 little stuffed chihuahuas from her Facebook page! We always have an Amazon list of things people can buy and donate. We also do an auction of Maddi’s PawPrint Paintings. I attach a picture of her dressed up to a canvas and she “paints” PawPrints around the picture.”
Maddison has slowed down a bit. “Maddison has hip dysplasia and it has gotten worse as she gets older. She is on many supplements and pain medicine when needed,” Nancy told me- but it does not keep her from making people smile.