Lifestyle & Human Interest

Dog Likely Bred for Fighting Now Helps Train Other Rescued Puppies Being Rehabbed


People react very differently to the presence of a pit bull. Some people who’ve had positive experiences with the breed light up and smile, while others who’ve had bad experiences or no experiences are more likely to shrink back.

This is because there are people out there who still use these dogs for horrible things. Maddie, a pit bull puppy, was just a few weeks old when she got a real chance at life, but her start was pretty rough.

In April 2018, a woman brought Maddie to Mr. Bones & Co. and Rescue the Runway after a stranger in a Brooklyn, New York, park told her that he found the pup in a dumpster.

At just a few weeks of age, Maddie already had a long list of issues. It’s hard to imagine that a puppy who was only 5 weeks old could have experienced so much evil in such a short time that everything triggered her and she was aggressive toward people, but that was exactly where she was at.

Her reactions were probably a result of nature (being bred from fighting stock) and nurture (being separated young and groomed for fighting). She was a real mess, one the rescue knew they might have to put down if they couldn’t effectively rehabilitate her.

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Once Maddie made it to the rescue and her behavior was evaluated, they knew they had to act fast to socialize her or risk her aggression making her unadoptable. They contacted Instinct Dog Behavior & Training and got to work.

“MADDIE was enrolled in a three week puppy training camp led by Suze Cullinan, a canine certified behavioral consultant,” the rescue wrote on Facebook on Jan. 20. “When we determined that MADDIE could learn and was making progress, Suze stepped up foster her and provide continued and constant training work, understanding MADDIE would not be able to be rehomed until social maturity to ensure she was stable.”

It was slow going, especially with Maddie only being able to handle a few minutes of socializing at a time in the beginning, but she steadily improved, and Cullinan could see how hard she was trying to do better.

While the rescue wasn’t going to even consider adopting her out until she was over a year old, giving her time to mature a bit and show consistent behavior, she ended up being adopted at 9 months by her trainer, Cullinan.

This is best for everyone, as Cullinan knows the pup’s history and how to help her. Maddie hasn’t only improved, she is thriving and is even helping Cullinan train other dogs now.

“Even more incredible is that MADDIE, who once reacted with fearless aggression towards other dogs approaching her space is now a ‘helper dog’ used to work with other dogs in training, as well as a puppy foster dog tasked with teaching new puppies social cues,” the rescue added.

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“Helper Dog Maddie, an Origin Story ?” the Instinct Dog Behavior & Training LLC page wrote on Feb. 20. “Thank you to Mr. Bones & Co. and Rescue the Runway for giving this special little dog a chance at life when many would have written her off, and to our very own Suze Cullinan, co-owner of Instinct Dog Behavior & Training Englewood NJ, for your expertise, dedication, LOVE, and most of all, for making this girl yours forever.”

It’s clear Maddie found the best forever home and will spend her days not only being understood and loved but also helping other dogs with some of the same issues she had. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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