Save Madison the Dog from the Pound

MadisonWhen I was about three years old, I ran crying to my mother. “Pat bit me,” I sobbed.

“You deserved it,” she answered.

That is as fair a portrait of a Family Dog as I can give you. My mother knew her dog, a black Lab bitch that was the envy of my father’s hunting friends and the dame of two large litters that would include two Montana Field Trial Champions. If my mother’s protégé bit me, I had teased her or annoyed her and ignored her growls until she was pushed to the edge. It was the kind of thing I would do and my mother knew Pat’s patience extended pretty far. In that sense, Pat and I were equal members in the balance of my family’s life.

There have been notices up in the local pet stores and on Craigslist for the last few weeks regarding Madison, a hound-Lab mix adopted at eight weeks from a City shelter, who may be a family’s dog but is not a Family Dog. She’s now 60 pounds and over four years old. Her owners have had two kids in that time and have decided she doesn’t fit their new lifestyle. Despite Madison’s affection for the youngsters, they want to find the dog another home. Their patience is running out. If the dog isn’t adopted by Saturday, March 21st, they intend to take her back to the A.S.P.C.A. shelter they got her from.

It’s lucky they got her from the A.S.P.C.A., a no-kill organization, because it has a policy of taking back any dogs adopted from its shelters. Otherwise, they evaluate dogs that are given up for adoption for physical and behavioral problems. Dogs over 40 pounds go on a wait list for acceptance because they have so little room for them, and so few people want them.

There lies the rub. The tragedy for a dog like Madison is that she thrives on exercise, attention, companionship and reinforced training. How, if she doesn’t luck out and get adopted quickly, does she get that in a cage? Her unmanageability and excitability, not unusual qualities for a dog that doesn’t have consistent training, will get worse in a shelter. A dog that needs love and a certain amount of freedom will die from the same medical condition that kids die from when they’re habitually ignored: failure to thrive. The A.S.P.C.A. can guarantee she will be fed, medically treated and even given as much affection as a busy shelter can provide, but it’s not a home, it’s a benign prison.

Last week, a respondent to my post wrote of “what a great neighborhood we live in”. Maybe we can put our kibble where our snarkiness is for once. Maybe someone reading this wants a Family Dog rather than a dog hanging out around a family.

I’ll put you in touch with Madison if you respond to this post, whether she’s in Brooklyn Heights or in the shelter she came from. She comes with three months of free walks and a bag of Iams, out of gratitude from a couple of her fans.

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  • Cindy D

    My heart goes out to Madison’s Mom. You’ve got some huge challenges ahead. I’m stunned by the tone of the original post and some of the insensitive (and bizarre) follow up comments. Please know that we readers of BH Blog definitely do not stand behind these people. Good luck to you; Madison is luck to be (and to have been) part of your family.

  • jiker

    goddamn yuppies

  • bklyn20

    As a parent of 1 child and more than one dog, I do understand that everyone’s tolerance level for disorder and need for control of their environment varies. At the same time, I must admit that recently I’ve been around the neighborhood less, since I started working outside my home (and that was work, too.) Still, it strikes me that I may have never seen this dog. From the photo, she looks like a hound/lab mix, and some labs need a lot of exercise, and some hounds really need to run a LOT – they were bred over centuries precisely for this purpose.

    Elementary as this may sound, maybe she (Madison) just isn’t getting enough exercise – I know that if my canines don’t get to the big run every day or two, the aggravation and noise level in the house goes WAY up. The same thing happens with my kid and exercise and activity, too! Perhaps the family could trade trips to Hillside for child playdate time, if a dog walker, or additional walks by the dog walker, aren’t possible? How comfortable is the nanny with him? She’s probably around Madison many hours each day, and needs to be included in any training or routine changes.

    When new children come over, couldn’t Madison go into another room behind a closed door with a delicious treat like a big bone or rawhide, etc??? The she might learn that kids = yummy stuff!! The visiting kids could throw her treat over a bay gate if she’ll sit or lie down for them.

    When I was a child, we had to re-home our Irish Setter – not a dog my parents would probably have chosen, but “the big red dog” showed up in our yard and was housebroken and friendly. A few years later, my mother was found to have cancer. After her first operation, she wasn’t strong enough to walk Laddie any more. My sister and I understood the reason, but I was especially sad, since I was his favorite. We learned a few years later that the dog’s owner went to court to get him back — someone had stolen Laddie (yes, really original name, I know) during a hunting trip. I don’t think an Irish Setter has ever met a stranger. We girls were delighted to learn that the trump card in the case was the existence of Super8 movies of us playing with him – this during the years the dognapper claimed to have owned him! So we knew the new person loved him, and my father got a full update.

    You know, it IS possible to have multiple children and dogs in the same household, but everyone’s situation is unique. It seems to me that a lot of people might want to help, some earlier obnoxious posts aside. Perhaps it would be good for the kids, too, to see that you aren’t banished just because you misbehave sometimes. I’m trying not to be judgemental. Please try a little longer, or at least until a new owner comes along for Madison.

  • nabeguy

    I’m always taken aback by the fact that the two subjects that result in the longest threads on this blog are dogs and restaurants (full disclosure: I have both a dog and a stomach). Homer, I think you need to branch out and have blogs devoted exclusively to these issues. And don’t ask me to write either one.

  • hickster

    i just dont understand why this post was even here. private citizens’ personal decisions and motivations should not be up for debate. these people feel they can longer handle this dog. they have done the best they can and more than many others. so let’s move on from judging, villifying or offering tips for how they can alter their lives (move, give their children back, add the expense of another animal to make madison happy and sacrifice their relationships and leisure time) to accomodate the needs of this dog.

    This is ludicrous. The only goal of this post should have been to work in conjunction with Madison’s owners to get her adopted. The debate surrounding the decision to put her up for adotion does not help the end goal. BTW Frances K, if this dog is all that and you have so much experience with this type of family dog, why don’t you just take her.

    Problem solved. Can we move on to a community issue, please?

  • katie

    I know Madison and I know her parents. I have known them for about 2 yrs. Madison is a wonderful dog who in my opinion has

    been tossed aside since the birth of the two children in the family. I have personally witnessed on numerous occaisions

    Madison walking the streets of Brooklyn Hts without a leash and without any human supervision. She has somehow managed to

    (according to her parents) “escape” from the house. As I said…i KNOW Madison. Our dogs have played together for about 2

    years. I wish I could adopt her becuase I would but due to other dog and cat resuces in my snmall home i cannot. In my

    opnion this family has hoped that Madison would ‘dsappear’. I have a high energy dog. I have other pets. I have a family. I

    have a dog with issues not that dissimilar from Madison’s. But my dog never managed to “escape” and almost get killed twice

    on the BQE. Its called RESPONSIBILITY. Its called paying attendtion to your dog. Its called respect and care. Madison is a

    good girl. She needs care and attention and a good trainer. I know that Madison has a streak and she needs constant work and

    attention. I know this personally. I know this from many, many, many interactions with Madison over 2 yrs. I know this from

    other dog owners’ interactions with Madison. But that’s not Madison’s fault. Her family hasn’t (in my opinion based upon

    almost 2 yrs of extended interaction together) paid the appropriate attention to her. But let’s not get lost in all this bs

    of kids vs dogs and who did what to whom and who is a better parent to whose dog. This dog needs a home and None of this

    really matters now. In my opnion Madison (like all dogs and kids and animals) needs a family that will give her the love and

    attention she needs and deserves. Its work. Its not easy. It takes time and a lot of patience. Madison is a challenge but she

    is wonderful. She has a side to her. If you or your dog grab her toy she may go for you. But you shouldnt allow her out with

    a toy. That was always something that baffled me about her recent parents. They allowed her to take her toys into the street

    where other dogs may pick it up. Then she’d drop it and it would become a point of contention between two dogs and a fight

    would ensue. And Madison, who often wore a shock collar, was known to get violent. So, I wondered, why tempt her? Why be be


    Due to the other rescue animals i have in my home and the small size of my apt I cannot take Madison permanently, however, id

    be willing to work with others to temporailiy house her until we found her her forever home. This is said with an

    understanding of Madsison personally. As I said, I know Madison fairly well. Iknow her parents. I know the kids and the

    nanny. I know where they live, and our dogs have ingteracted over the past few years. I have my opnions but that

    isunderstanding of Madison personally. Madison is the concern here and lets all put our opinions and judgments aside for

    Madison. She doesnt belong in a shelter. She is NOT the trouble (or doesnt need to be the trouble) that her parents have

    described (in my opnion). My animal behaviorist met Madison and she felt that with the right family and work and love that

    this dog would be well adjusted. I am not a self proclaimed expert. I am a life-long, 50+ individual who has had MANY dogs

    throughout my life, and I have chosen to adopt challenging dogs like Madison because they deserve a chance and i know

    through experience that these animals are all capable of love. I have also chosen to work with experts to help me becasue I

    know that I have limits and need help in this undertaking. Im sure Madison’s parents arent bad people. They probably (like

    many) dont know how to handle this situation and shouldnt have had a dog to begin with. Please respond to this post if you

    want to help Madison find her forever home. I will not respond to dialogue around anything other than Madison’s future

    well-being. She has a bright future ahead of her with the right love and nuturing. Her parents asked me about placing her a few monts ago but they did not indicate that they were going to return her to the aspca so quickly. I wish that they had becasue i would have tried to work out a plan with them to place her. I know someone who would like to tak eher permanently but needs a few months to settle into a new home, I have asked everyoone i know to keep her in mind for a temporary placement situation since I know someone who will take her permamently. if you are willing to work on this together please respond to this post.

  • frances k

    My understanding, Katie, is that she’s back at her original ASPCA shelter. Please contact the former owner regarding which one. From what I’ve heard about Madison, the longer she’s there, the harder it’s going to be to work with her.

    Thank you.

  • madison’s mom

    katie, please email me at and send your contact information so we can discuss your lead on someone who might be able to take madison permanently. thank you.