© 2019 by Elyana Smith. Created with Wix.com

5 years 

Adopted by Melanie Cahill and Justin Smith, August 2016

Maine Lab Rescue


        Melanie Cahill and Justin Smith adopted Peggy in August of 2016 and spent many years working with her helping her to adjust to living as a dog should. Peggy had a very rough start to life being taken away from her mother at just 6 weeks old because after an accident the breeder decided that she was worthless for sale. Peg became a Christmas gift for a family and most of the time that she spent with them is rather unknown but it was clear that she was not treated well. Peg’s right hip socket was broken and her right back leg had been broken in three places. She lived in their backyard lacking some medical attention that she most definitely needed. Because of these living conditions, Peggy was afraid of other dogs and people, and didn’t know how to play, swim, or climb stairs.

        Peg’s rescuers, John and Darlene, took one look at her and brought her into their home in Massachusetts. They spent 6 months getting her spayed and healthy. They did everything that they could to make her feel safe with people. After making the decision that Peg was not the best fit for them, they searched for an adequate home for her. Peg was hard to find a home for because she did not understand how to interact with other dogs and snapped at people who touched her. After months of searching for the “perfect” home, John and Darlene brought Peggy to shelter in Cape Cod hoping that they would have an easier time finding the right home. They dropped Peggy off with a detailed letter about her background, her pedigree papers, and their own contact information.

        3 months later John and Darlene got a call saying that Peg had been put on the kill list at the shelter because a trainer pushed on her hips to make her sit and because of Peg’s sensitivities, she snapped. They had three hours to get to the shelter and rescue Peg for the second time. They again took her home and decided to keep her with them until the right family was found. Maine Lab rescue agreed to post Peg and her story on their facebook page in hopes to reach someone who could adopt her.

        When Melanie and Justin saw her online they thought that she could be the dog for them. They wrote to John and Darlene sharing their extensive past caring for labs and a few weeks later they were driving to meet her. After spending a few hours with Peg, Melanie and Justin decided to adopt her. The next weekend Peg was driven to Portland and while John and Darlene were happy that she had a home, they were still very sad to see her go.

        The first day at her new home Peggy snapped at Melanie and while she had been told that Peggy could be testy she hadn’t quite expected it to that extent. This was a difficult first day making Malanie and Justin question their decision. After adjusting their expectations and acknowledging that Peggy had never truly been trained with positive reinforcement they began to work with her. Melanie and Justin spent months gaining her trust and rewarding good behavior as well as encouraging her to try new things. All the while she was also on a diet because she was about 25 pounds overweight. “She refused to eat her kibble for 10 days (an eternity for a Lab) because I didn’t serve it with sautéed chicken livers as Darlene did for her.” 3 years later Peggy is a happy, mostly well-adjusted dog. Peg still does not exactly like being touched by strangers but does accept the occasional pat on the head.


“One of the best outcomes is that we have become friends with John and Darlene, we send them pictures and updates. When we are in their area, we stop in for a visit and they have had Peg for a few overnight visits. They are lovely people and we are happy to consider them our extended family.”