Madison was born on Janurary 10, 1997 and donated to NEADS by her breeder. She was a lovable bundle! From the beginning, Madison had a special affinity for babies and young children. By the time she was a year of age, she had been certified as a Therapy dog with the group Pets to People.
After Madison’s advanced training at NEADS, sponsored by Canines for Disabled Kids (CDK), she was placed with a young boy with Duchenne’s muscular dysrophy and spent many wonderful years helping him transition to adolescence. When he started middle school it was time for her to move on to a new career.
Madison re trained as a Service Dog for Therapy at age 5, and sinced then she has worked in the Neurofibromatosis Clinic at Mass General Hospital. On clinic days she dresses up in cape and special leader and heads off to work. What does she do? Well . . . the full answer could fill a book but the short answer is that she makes people happy. Here is a typical day in her life:
- Made everyone on the commuter rail put down their reading material and smile when she got on.
- Stopped to say hello to several staff members in the hall on her way to clinic.
- Greeted those waiting for their appointments in the waiting room (why ARE doctors always running late?!?!?)
- Helped a scared little boy get up the courage to come in for his appointment.
- Greeted a young family, anxious about the diagnosis they were going to hear.
- Provided a welcome diversion for a 2 year old whose mother couldn’t get a baby sitter for her appointment.
- Walked around with 5 and 7 year old sisters who got bored with their parents endless questions of the doctor.
- Stopped on her way out to greet an 18 month old in her stroller and give kisses to her sad mother who just learned she needed a prolonged hospitalization for weight gain.
Every day Madison learns new ways to help. For example, one of her patients is a ten year old who is very very afraid of MRI’s. The problem is that like many neurofibromatosis patients, he has a great big tumor, so he often needs one. To keep him from wiggling he gets a breathing tube and general anesthesia which makes him feel sick and sleepy, not to mention keeping his poor parents out of work for a day. Enter Madison, whom he adores. Last time he was in clinic he made a bargain… if he could try to stay super still for the 90 minutes that he had to be in the machine, Madison could be there too. When his appointment day came for the MRI, he was SO happy to see Madison that he forgot to be scared. Madison went right in the exam room and jumped on the MRI gurney so that he could see there was nothing to be at all scared of. With his feet in the machine, as it started pounding he could stroke her soft fur, or just feel her warm body close to him. When it was done he was so proud of himself that he wanted to tell the world of his accomplishment! And the next day the radiologists called to say this was the least wiggly MRI scan they had ever seen!