LAKE GEORGE — Two years ago, Michelle Maskaly of Lake George agreed to help the Florida Little Dog Rescue wrangle puppies in Orlando for the taping of Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XI.
Maskaly had no intention of bringing a puppy home, but when she lifted Maddux (named Bubba at the time) from his crate, she fell in love.
“I decided I was going to take him home,” she said on Thursday. “I can’t imagine my life without him; he fit perfectly into my life.”
And on Friday night, Maskaly and Maddux’s story airs on Animal Planet at 9 p.m. in a show — “Puppy Bowl: Where are they now?” — that chronicles life after the big games.
“Maddux scored a ton of touchdowns and he got a lot of attention,” said Laurie Johnson, director of the Florida Little Dog Rescue. “They wanted to follow pups that people knew, ‘hey look at what this dog is doing now.’ And Maddux is doing really cool things. He’s done barn trials and lots of fun stuff. … Maddux is a really good example of what rescue dogs are capable of doing.”
Johnson said Animal Planet does the Puppy Bowl to promote adoption across the country and that all puppies — ages 12 to 20 weeks — in the bowl are from rescues or shelters.
Rescuers found Maddux along with his litter mates and his dog Mom abandoned in an apartment.
“He was a skinny, emaciated puppy. We didn’t know if he would make it,” Johnson said. “He was our sleeper pup. He just decided to shine.”
As soon as Maskaly brought the terrier mix puppy home to Lake George, she changed his name to Maddux after baseball player Greg Maddux, introduced him to her other dog Toby, a 9-year-old Chihuahua, and signed him up for obedience classes at the Glens Falls Kennel Club.
“I wanted him to do trials and have him become a therapy dog,” Maskaly said. “I want to eventually take him to children’s hospitals.”
When Maskaly was 9 , she was in the hospital with pneumonia and was given a small stuffed dog that brought lots of comfort.
“I still have Goldie and I’m 37,” she said. “I would eventually like to make small Maddux and Toby (stuffed) dogs and give them to the children we visit.”
Becoming a therapy dog starts with basic obedience, said Maddux’s trainer, Chris Argento, a trainer at the kennel club.
“There are 14 or 15 steps they must follow, but it basically comes down to good manners, being friendly without jumping up and good behavior,” Argento said. “Maddux has the sweetest personality and he is very funny. He is a fun little dog.”
Maskaly said to help socialize Maddux, she took him to Lake George pet-friendly restaurants and that he loves kayaking and hiking.
“Everyone got to know him and what he was doing,” she said.
When the Animal Planet film crew came to the area in November 2016 to film for Friday night’s episode, they visited the kennel club to get some footage of Maddux going through some of his training exercises and also visited his Lake George home and followed Maddux and Maskaly around the Lake George beach and village.
Friday night’s one-hour special also visits with sheepdog Ginger, the Most Valuable Pup from Puppy Bowl X and finds out how Jake the Chug, who played in Puppy Bowl VI, found social media fame, appeared in a calendar, on a bookmark and made a guest appearance in Puppy Bowl XII.
To add to his fame, Maddux is also featured in this week’s “People” magazine.