Whew, this is going to be a hard one. Madison who we often called Maddy was our first Golden Retriever. In November 1993, Katie was 8, Kevin 6, Craig 4 and Tracey 2. At that time we had a 6 yr old cat named Paw-Paw and a 10 yr old dog named Penny. Paw-Paw was very elusive and would disappear when the kids were close by and Penny who was a Lhasa Apso was NOT kid friendly, so in essence the kids really didn’t have a pet they could play with. They would ask for another dog from time to time, but Dave always said no way. On Election Day, November 1993, when Christie Whitman was elected as Governor of New Jersey, Dave got home from work about an hour late. When he got home, he told me and the 4 kids to go sit on the couch in the Great Room and close our eyes. We ran into the room and sat on the couch from oldest (me) to youngest (Tracey). Dave came into the room and made sure we all had our eyes shut, when he said ok open your eyes, THERE was the most beautiful reddish Golden Retriever puppy that he had placed on the floor. All of us jumped up screaming, clapping and arguing who was going to hold her first. I actually got the pleasure, I picked her up and hugged her, she was the softest most sweet-smelling puppy with heart melting eyes. It was instant love! I then passed her on to Katie, and as the kids were laughing, holding and playing with the puppy, I asked Dave why did he get he,r and his excuse was that Penny was getting old so he didn’t want something to happen to her and then the kids did not have a dog. For his tough exterior at the time, he really was a softy. Now came the hard part. As the puppy was sleeping on the floor, we needed a name. We each threw a name out here and there, Goldy, Red, Brownie etc. All of a sudden, Dave yells “I have the perfect name”! Me and the kids altogether said WHAT………he said ” Old Yeller”….. yes that’s right, Old Yeller. The kids and I sat dumbfounded as he stood there beaming, obviously very, very proud of himself for thinking up this name. We as a family had just watched the movie Old Yeller a few nights previous so we guessed that is where the name came from. I knew I had to tread carefully on this, I just calmly said, “it would be a good name except for the fact that this puppy isn’t a Yellow Labrador Retriever but a GOLDEN Retriever. Katie in turn (being Katie), said very loudly, “IT IS THE STUPIDIST NAME I EVER HEARD OF”! There were also grumblings from Kevin and Craig, Tracey really was too young to care. Dave insisted it was a GREAT name and what difference did it make if they were different types of Retriever, a Retriever is a Retriever! After giving the kids the evil eye (particularly aiming it at Katie), I suggested we sleep on it. The next day, Dave came up with the name, Madison. Dave’s business is in Madison so therefore it was what she was named after. We all LOVED the name, no one heard of it before and as a matter of fact, it was several years later that the name Madison became a popular girl’s name.
Madison, Maddie, Maddie-mc-faddie, Madsden, Faddie, She, Her, the dog answered to all of these names over the years. She was the best dog in the world. Great with kids, teens and adults. Maddie could never have been a guard dog, she loved people way too much. Whenever we mentioned we were ordering pizza, Madison would wait at the door because the pizza delivery man always brought her treats. I think Madison would have given the whole house away for food of any kind. Although most of her life she was strictly on dog food, we would once in a while sneak something to her. I remember one time when Madison was about a year old, she was hanging out in the kitchen with me as I was making blueberry muffins. She was sleeping contentedly on the floor when I took the muffins out of the oven and set them on a baking rack on the center island. The phone rang so I went into the Library to answer it, it was my sister Linda calling. We were chatting away when I walked back into the kitchen, I was leaning against the counter when all of a sudden I realized the WHOLE muffin tray was empty!! I thought I was going crazy, I kept saying to my sister, what happened to the muffins, this is so weird, I know they were there. I happened to glance over in the Great Room and instantly Madison popped up with her paws on the back of the couch and an empty muffin cup hanging from her mouth. It was like she was saying “muffins? muffins? did someone mention muffins? I was shocked, how could one dog take 12 muffins, I guess one at a time, eat them plus the paper excluding the one in her mouth, in less than 10 minutes? I walked into the Great Room and there wasn’t a crumb to be found, the only evidence was the muffin cup in Madison’s mouth.
Madison loved socks and would steal them whenever whe could. We would find mounds of them in corners or under furniture. The kids could lay on Madison, hug her and dress her up. When Madison was 3 yrs old, we bred her. To our great surprise, she gave birth to 15 puppies!! There were so many puppies that the kids and I had to help with the feedings. No way could Maddie feed them all her self (nor did she want to). The kids and I fed the puppies with eyedroppers and even had to set our timers and get up in the middle of the night to feed them. Madison was very ambivilent about the puppies, the mothering kind she was not. Once the puppies were fed, she was out of there. During this time in order to build Maddie’s strength back up she was fed, london broils, chicken, fish, hamburgers, hard boiled eggs, etc. She was living the high life (which ended as soon as the puppies were weened). We wound up keeping two puppies, giving two to family and friend and sold the rest (but that is for another story).
My dad died 3 months before Madison had her puppies. He LOVED Madison! Because she was very red in color, my dad called Madis0n “the big red lobster” and spoiled the crap out of that dog as he did the grandchildren. When my dad was over, he always let this huge dog sit on his lap. If I questioned this, his response was, leave her alone, she wants to sit here. There was always something about Maddie everyone loved.
The years went by, there are too many stories to share. Madison was the best dog every, not that I didn’t love my other pets, but there was just something about Maddie. Every meal I had, she would sit very, very quietly next to me with her nose on my leg, hoping I would share something with her which I usually did. I always felt Maddie new when I was happy or sad and she would always layed quietly be by me. In September 2006, we found out she had mouth cancer. For the next 3 months she developed leg sores and had a hard time walking. We thought we would have to put her down in November of that year but she perked back up, Dave began feeding her like a queen and it was like having the old Madison back. We totally spoiled her. Months went by, Madison travelled with us to Florida, ran around the yard etc. But, all of a sudden the middle of June 2007, the cancer was spreading, her sores were getting worse and it was getting very hard for her to get up. The one thing was she was still a voracious eater! One day I got up and she was sleeping on her bed in the kitchen, I made her steak and sat on the floor beside her. She looked at me with those very loving eyes and then turned her head away……she could not eat. I tried to get her up but was unsuccessful. I called the vet who we had been going to for 20 years and she said it was time, Madison was 14 1/2 yrs old, never sick, was the best dog and that we owed it to her to let her go. We waited until the next morning so we could spend as much time with her as possible. We put Hayley and Hunter on the bus (Dave stayed home from w0rk), My vet and her assistant came to our house to put Maddie down. We all sat on the floor, Maddie on her favorite blanket, we hugged and kissed her, told her how much we loved her. She still weakly wagged her tail. So with my arms around her and her head on my lap, we let her go………………….
Madison’s passing was an end to a very important time period in my life. Homeschooling, raising the older kids, my dad, puppies, other animals etc. I really hate change yet I know it is inevitable, Maddie was a tie to so many happy memories. We all loved her, but I can say for myself Madison held and still holds a very special place in my heart. I will always love her and never forget her because, you know, there was always……somesthing about Maddie….. xoxo