This an interview with Midway Maddy. Maddy is the emotional support animal of Nan, one of the USS Midway (CV-41) Carrier Museum Library volunteers. Since Maddy came aboard, about two years ago, she has become a beloved mascot and international photo star.
Although this is probably a picture of Maddy at home, this is how she spends most of her time on the Midway, waiting patiently for Nan to do whatever she needs to do, unless she is on a comfort or adoration break (read more to find out what that means.)
How did you become a comfort animal?
Nan—Maddy was trained when I adopted her, so how she became an emotional support animal I don’t know. This is why I say she is truly a gift from God. She taught me that she was trained during the first few weeks we were together. Her calm demeanor (even at only 1-1/2 years old) and desire to help were evident immediately. She is comfortable wherever we go, restaurants, planes, cars, boats, she is quiet, lays down and totally “minds her manners.” In movie theaters, she sleeps through the movie, whether it it a movie about WWII or Jurassic Park and dinosaurs—nothing phases her!
In addition to being trained and well behaved, the biggest part of being an excellent emotional support animal is due to the dog’s own desire to provide comfort and reduce anxiety. That is something that cannot be trained. One time that stands out vividly in my mind is when I was struck by a severe anxiety attack while we were out. It came out of nowhere with no warning. All I could think was I had to get home. Looking back, I know it wasn’t the wisest decision to drive, but I felt I had no choice. Fortunately we were only about 2-1/2 miles from home. Without a word from me, on our drive home, Maddy continuously pawed at my shoulder and kissed my face, keeping me aware and focused. She was the reason we safely made our way home. I find it amazing that a lot of the time I realize an anxiety attack is coming on because of her. She comes to me, nudges me with her paw, starts licking my leg, anything to get my attention and have me interact with her so she can start helping. She is truly an amazing and loving friend.
What breed of dog are you?
Maddy—I’m a Havanese/Poodle mix. Both breeds have hair, as humans do, not fur. This is especially good for my Mom’s allergies.
Nan—Havanese were bred from Bichon Friese and came from the Canary Islands to Havana, Cuba. They were companion animals for the rich. The only way you would get a Havanese was to have it given as a gift from the people who owned and bred them. They almost became extinct due to the people fleeing from Castro/Cuba in the 60s and having to leave their dogs behind. A couple in the United States started with 3 Havanese (2 from Cuba and 1 from Europe) and started the breed over in the 1970s. I had Maddy’s DNA tested because I wanted to know exactly what breed she was.
How long have you been with Nan?
Maddy--I’ve been helping my Mom for over 7 years.
How long have you been coming to the Midway?
Maddy –I started coming to the Midway not long after Mom started volunteering.
Nan—Volunteering on the Midway was my first big step in the world after suffering with PTSD. Fortunately, Bonnie and Joan were very open to the idea of my bringing Maddy to the library. It was so important to have her with me, especially with such an important step. She settled into the library right away, and has made so many special friendships with other volunteers on the ship. In fact, some of the volunteers feel that their day is not complete if they haven’t had a Midway Maddy kiss on the nose!
What is your role on the Midway?
Maddy—I normally sit or nap on my bed or blanket while Mom is working. My job in life is to be next to my Mom at all times and make sure she is doing well. Sometimes when Mom is working in the main part of the library and guests arrive to look up a friend or relative in the Cruise Books, I will greet them (which always makes them feel special), let them pet me and go back to my bed. Pretty much everybody thinks I’m cute!
What does Nan do while you are aboard?
Maddy—She types a lot working on deck logs. When she was working on the inventory last month in Bay 2 of the library, I wasn’t happy. I don’t like Bay 2, because there is someone there that I don’t know. I had to watch Mom from the doorway to make sure she was okay.
What has been your favorite part of being Midway Maddy?
Maddy—Being there with my Mom. Secondly, I like when we go out for my comfort breaks. Bonnie calls them my adoration breaks—because everybody loves on me as we’re leaving and returning to the library. I have my special people at the Information Booth, on the Employee brow, Safety people that walk around the ship, employees that give out the audio tours, Fantail Cafe and the Safety people that check bags. I’ve had my picture taken by our visitors many times, including ones from China, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland and I don’t know how many different states. It’s a pretty good gig!
Nan—Maddy knows she’s a favorite on board and you can tell she’s always happy to be on the Midway. On Monday and Wednesday, before I get ready, I’ll ask her if she wants to go to work—she jumps up and and down a few times and then gives me a kiss on the nose, which is her emphatic yes!
How do you handle the pressure of being everybody’s favorite mascot?
Maddy—I don’t think I have a lot of pressure. I just try to be myself and let everyone knows who visits with me that I’m there to brighten their day too. There are a lot of people who need my attention, but I have a very big heart.
Nan—Maddy truly enjoys interacting with everyone and is always happy to have her head scratched and share a kiss.
Do you have plans for a social media presence?
Maddy—I never gave it any thought, I’m just a simple girl. I’ve always felt that if you stop by and talk to me and pet me, I’m happy to give you a kiss or nuzzle in return.
Nan—Maddy would be a natural, but other than sharing her on the Midway, I hadn’t ever thought about sharing her on line.
Why don’t you like being called Sea Dog?
Maddy—You have seen me right? I always wear bows in my hair, normally pink or burgundy, and I just don’t see where a “sea dog” would do such a thing. Now, first mate, that’s more my style.
Nan and Maddy normally work on Mondays with Don, Joan, and Bonnie. This picture shows that they all safely came in through the fog on New Year’s Day 2018 to make sure the library and Midway Book Store were open for the Midway’s guests.
Although not mentioned in this interview, both Nan and Maddy completed the Midway Docent Course. It required coming aboard for 6 Saturdays in a row, for 7 hours, studying a large notebook, taking weekly quizzes, and touring the entire Midway from stem to stern, below decks, and all the way up to the Bridge.
Additional note from Maddy
Maddy–it was fun going to class and I especially loved the attention from one of the instructors, Hope. I’m having mom attach a picture from one time when we were listening to a lecture.
Maddy and Nan during Docent class
Maddy and Nan getting their Docent Graduation Certificates from Midway CEO Mac McLaughlin
For more information about the USS Midway Library click here