When Ana-Maria Klizs, a Toronto-based mom of three and the fitness and lifestyle blogger behind Bluebird Kisses, decided to put in an application for a golden retriever — the quintessential family dog, she assumed — she shared the news on Instagram, where she has almost 134,000 followers.
A long-time reader pitched a different plan: she happened to be fostering a new-to-Canada potcake for the rescue Helpaws, so she sent a photo of the months-old pup in search of a furever home.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason. We got the dog we needed, not the dog we thought we wanted,” says Klizs, who adopted wee Maddie in 2016.
Sweet, gentle and “like an old soul in a puppy body,” Maddie was already a survivor. As a newborn, she was found in a roadside box in St. Lucia with a litter of siblings, and she was so sick — with pneumonia, parvo and other ailments — she nearly died.
Today, she’s the picture of health and, as it turns out, a natural runner.
The first clue: “When she was in a park or even in the backyard, she’d do excited sprints, and not just one or two like other dogs — she’d keep going for 30 minutes,” says Klizs. “She’d propel forward with her legs the way I’ve seen race dogs run.” (Maddie’s tall, lean form hints at a possible sprinkling of greyhound genes, the vet guesses.)
When Klizs decided to seriously get into running as part of a new commitment to fitness after having her third son, Maddie proved an always eager pace mate.
“I read an article that said dogs can get a runner’s high, and I definitely think it’s true. She’s not as excited for walks, but her face lights up when she realizes, Oh, there’s my running leash.”
Out on the road — Maddie clocks about 30k a week — they fall into sync effortlessly. “She just knows my rhythm,” Klizs says.
Today, Klizs trains as part of a coached running team, Pace & Mind, but Maddie remains her all-time favourite partner, joyfully bounding beside her on the Martin Goodman Trail or through High Park.
“Running feels like freedom to me, and it may be the same for her too. I think that’s why she loves it as much as I do.”