A Love Letter To The Best Dog I Remember
Updated: Nov 6
When you are a kid you have pets, while a kid and their animals can be special, and even form a lifelong bond it was not my experience. I cannot remember a dog that I loved as much as I did with Madison. We had many dogs too, maybe the closest would be Max but thinking back it is not even close.
Madison came to Elizabeth and me from a small litter of two. We got her from a breeder in 29 Palms. Madison was called “Amanda” by the breeder. But Elizabeth had already known she was a Madison. The breeder brought her to us at a young 8 weeks weighing just 3.7lbs. May 22nd 2010 little Madison came to be and would soon become the biggest thing in our lives. When the breeder brought Madison to us, I was at work, and Elizabeth called me in true deep breath panic and said "oh no, we've made a mistake. There is no way we keep this alive they have to take her back"
Everywhere we have lived we have been fortunate to have some local support. When we moved to Memphis Christin and Todd were like family to us. We had holiday meals with them, and even a squirrel infested BBQ evening that was one to remember. When we moved to Charlotte we were close enough to home where we could make it home for the holidays and such. When we moved to Florida Robin and Miguel were all the family anyone could ask for and we are forever grateful for their love.
When we moved to California for the first time we had no one. Elizabeth, who is infinitely smarter than I will ever be, knew we needed something to lean on. Madison would be that support column.
I assume like any new parent the reality of now being responsible for the well being of another life form is daunting. That is what is lacking as a kid, the gravity. We were looking at the worlds heaviest 3.7lb being the earth has ever seen. She fit in Elizabeth’s palm. TINY! Eventually she would reach the perfect size for us an enormous 23lbs. I say enormous because she was the smallest elephant you would have ever met, somehow she always took up 2/3rds of the sofa. We did not let Madison sleep in the bed for too long because she would get too hot and wake you up with her death breath in your face. BUT the few hours she did sleep in the bed she would kick you in the neck, face, boob where ever to get you to move away from her. Somehow though, we managed to squeeze Elizabeth and me onto 1/8th of the bed while she got the rest.
Very quickly Madison found her way directly into our hearts and set up shop. The adorable little girl was accepted as new full permanent resident in our lives. I feel like I am saying her name a lot here, but she was called a lot of names. Madison, Momma, Momma-bear, Brat, Brat-ruski, Shit-brick, Turd, Sweet-babes just to name a few. I am sure she was often confused who we were talking about.
<- Here is Madison taking up all of the bed
We took Madison home to our apartment in Chino Hills CA, immediately she became Elizabeth forever best friend. She was not house broken of course so we tried to put her in the kitchen or bathroom because of the vinyl flooring, whenever we went to bed or left for the day. Madison would cry so loud, she had a real separation issue. She did not like being more than two feet away from us ever. We would leave for the day and Madison felt the need to try her hand in drywall work. She felt that some areas had a little too much drywall and happily thinned it out.
Eventually when she was potty trained we would let her roam around the house during the day. That is when she let us know that she had perfected her drywall techniques, and thought she would try her paw at carpeting. We would come home from work and she would have successfully removed 14-20 carpet fibers. That’s it just the 14-20. Just enough to make a quarter size hole, and leave all the pulled out fibers near the hole as a real F' you. The best part about her “Bad” behavior was she was a self punisher. If she acted up, she would feel guilty about it. We would always know that she did something bad when we could not find her, eventually would notice one little eyeball peeking from behind a doorway.
Madison had quite a mouth on her too. She would sass us like you would not believe. If you told her something she did not like, she would audibly exhale with force and stomp her food. Things like, it is not time for dinner, you did not go potty so NO SNACK, were often met with a sass. Speaking of going potty, she was the pickiest dog on where she would go pee/poop. Many times she would circle, sniff, walk up and down, come back sniff again, circle 3 more times and then MAYBE pee. That is what earned her the names, brat, shit-brick, etc.
Madison's Christmas Photo!
Madison had a lot of friends too. The neighborhood we lived in had a large court yard where a lot of dog friends would met at night. Her first best friend was London. A Yorkie that thought her how to roll in dead worms, a feat she still attempted regularly. Envoy, Zoey, Zena, Guinness and Porto, and Rocco, all would run and chase and play fetch. It was a lot of fun; so much so that Madison would often times not want to go inside. We would have to trick her by telling her it was dinner time. That only worked a couple of times, she was so smart. Maybe this is where her food obsession came from?
Madison loved food, her whole world revolved around food. She knew what time it was without a doubt. At 6am she was up and ready for her brek-pas, followed by a lot of water and a big burp. If she went potty, a snack was to be paid as soon as we returned to the house. She knew exactly where the treats were, and would surely show you where if you had forgotten. If you did not give her the snack when she felt it was due, you would definitely get a large huff and possibly a foot stomp.
Madison met a lot of people; we took her on a lot of car rides too. She loved to "Go". If we said car, beach, park, outside, or walk she was the first one at the door. We walked her so much, she loved to be outside. We took her to "The Silver Rose Ranch" a lot too. This was a little doggy daycare place that was on an active horse farm. She loved it, she would come home smelling like shit, and dirt and was happy as a clam. Tina, the owner also loved Madison so much, Madison was the only dog that would stay in her house at night. She certainly had a way of pulling the right heart strings.
Our first trip with Madison was to the New Years Day Parade at the Rose Parade in Pasadena. We went a long, Madison wearing a cute sweater because she was in that weird teenage year where she didn’t quite have all of her coats. We shuffled around the crowds trying to find a spot to watch the parade, and wouldn’t you know it Madison found the best spot. Right next to the guy cooking bacon hotdogs, Madison set up shop and did not leave his sight.
Madison went everywhere with us, she visited San Francisco, she got to play in the sand at the Golden Gate Beach park. As a younger puppy, she hiked to the top of the trail at the Griffith Observatory. She played in the sand in Laguna. She took a car ride up to Oakland and walked around the ghettos. She chased the ducks around the lakes. When she was a teen, she was herding a group of ducks and chased them right into the water. But little did she know, as this was her first time dealing with water, she went head first right in after them. That was a mistake, as soon as the surface tension broke, and she sank fully under the water, she knew, she fucked up. Elizabeth and fetched her from the water’s edge soaking wet, we laughed and laughed. Madison though was not pleased.
We took the brat to San Diego to celebrate the 4th of July. We walked and sniffed the parks, we found out though she did no care for the fireworks over the water. She barked and barked; I am sure ruined the ambiance for the groups around us. But she always had a good time on the go.
We moved from Chino Hills to Aliso Viejo, this was Madison’s first move and she was a little put off, but adapted quickly. Shortly after we moved in, we had to move again because the owners were selling the house. We moved into Bob's house a few miles down the road. All along Madison was just taking it in stride. This is where we would spend a lot of time with Madison and her favorite past-time, people watching. We would walk the short or long way to the Starbucks at the corner of Alicia and Pacific Park, we would order drinks and a Pup-O-Chino and just sit and watch the people.
In AV, Madison gave us her first real shock. She was an active baby, and maybe this lead to or help a genetic issue, but Madison had double elbow surgery to fix broken bones floating around in her joints. Her bones grew at different rates and the longer bones broke off and were floating in/out of her joints and would create random "lame" periods. We took her to the vet several time trying to figure out why she was limping, but they misdiagnosed her. It was not until we moved to AV that a different vet knew immediately that she needed surgery. A swift credit card charge of $5k and two surgically repaired elbows later, Madison was "fixed" up.
We met Linda "crazy sheltie lady". This moniker was given in love because of her two Shelties Ronin and Jordy, but when she would dog-sit Madison she had three shelties. When we would travel home or somewhere Madison would stay with Linda and the boys. She loved them very much and always seemed happy to be there. Linda once told us how she was walking just the boys after dog-sitting for us, and a neighbor asked her “Where the pretty one was?” Thank you Linda for all of the love you gave our little girl.
The biggest test to Madison was out cross country move to Virginia. But the week long trek across the states was not as hard as you would think. Madison was able to see the saguaro cacti in AZ, secretly this was really more of a big deal for me, I love saguaro cactus. Madison was able to play in the Sand in the Gulf of Mexico, she was served her own breakfast in a restaurant in Mississippi. She walked the streets of New Orleans. Madison also got to sit on MLK Jr porch at his home in Montgomery Alabama.
Madison’s first real mind bender in the mid-atlantic came a few days into moving back, was this strange cold white stuff covering all of the grass, and she had NO where to go potty. Even though Edsel cleared off a large area for her to go, she held it for two days. We moved in and began walks all around, getting new sniffs. New parks in DC and Virginia were thoroughly explored. Madison also was able to make the trek out to Fredrick MD to see Gma and Pap-pap’s graves.
In January of 2020, we noticed a little bump on Madison’s elbow, this is one of several bumps we have had biopsied, lopped off, drained, etc. We did not think too much about it, considering her history of fatty bumps. But this one was different, it was a cancer mass that had to be removed or it could spread. Quickly they had her all “fixed” up again. Thinking this would get us another 5-6 years from her, more time for sniffs and walks. But that would not be, in July 2020 Madison had a bout of something strange. This also lined up with our move-in at the new house. We took her to the vet again and they ran her through the paces. The vet thought she may have injured her neck somehow, gave us some meds to see how things progress. A few weeks went by and she got better. Until Tuesday, 10/13/2020. Madison was in severe pain, we had to take her to the emergency room. Unfortunately they did not have the tools or people available to fully investigate what was wrong. Again they sent us home with meds and a hope to find someone who could see her around town.
We found Bush Veterinary and Imaging Center in Richmond had availability 10/19/2020. We drove the two hours down and handed our baby off to the staff. We met with Family while they tried to determine the cause of her pain. Shortly thereafter we received the bad news. Madison had a meningioma on her spine on C1 vertebrae, blocking 80% of the canal. With surgery ($8,000) based on a few year old study of Boxers, we might be able to get 12-18 months. Without surgery we might get 1-3 months with her.
We brought her home, and tried to make our baby as comfortable as possible. Things deteriorated rapidly. By Tuesday night she was no longer walking, we knew we would have to say our goodbyes.
As a kid we had a lot of dogs. I loved them in the way a kid loves any pet. Like a pet. I think I understand now, what is the difference. The gravity of the situation. Madison was our Kid, 100% our first born. We treated her like a kid in almost every sense. Saying good bye had the gravity of Jupiter, and something that I suspect will not ease any time soon.
5/22/2010 – 10/22/2020
I have an external hard drive that has a billion photos of this little brat on there, unfortunately it has decided that is no longer wants to work. The slideshow below is a small sample of some of the pix we had on this laptop. (These will NOT show well on a phone, the can be expanded and better formatted the slideshow is a 4:3 and a lot of these photos are 16:9)