Despite a rough start as a “bait dog,” she’s a smiley girl.

By Austin Cannon
September 25, 2020
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Erin Williams

Haddie is not your typical Instagram dog. She isn’t particularly fluffy, she’s not one of the country’s most popular breeds, and, well, she’s missing an eye and part of her face. 

She’s only 2 or 3 years old but has already gone through immense trauma. Mutt Scouts, the organization that rescued her, says she was used as a “bait dog” to train fighting dogs in Mexico.

Poor Haddie sustained nasty injuries to her face, eventually losing much of the skin on the right side of her snout. Surgeons opted to remove her right eye, too. She spent weeks under veterinarians’ intensive care earlier this year.

And yet, after all that, a joyful dog emerged. Haddie loves to run around and play with her new toys and owner Erin Williams, 35, of Los Angeles. Seemingly always smiling, the pirate dog even figured out a way to escape from her crate. 

“I think she knows that she is living the good life,” Williams says. “... She’s just a total joy.” 

Haddie Was Impossible to Ignore

Williams lost her former dog, Elly, in May. She was expecting at least a few more years with the 9-year-old pup before an aggressive brain tumor came along. After Elly’s untimely passing, Williams decided to wait until at least the end of July to start looking for a new dog. 

Browsing shelters and rescues online kept steering her back to Petfinder, the website that shows adoptable pets in your area. There, she kept seeing Haddie. 

“This dog so clearly has been through it, but ... she just radiates happiness,” Williams says. “You can just see it from her picture.”  

But Williams wasn’t looking for a Haddie. She was looking for a dog similar to Elly, who enjoyed lounging around and had nearly zero interest in treats and toys. But she kept seeing Haddie and would continue checking whether the dog had been adopted. After a couple days, Williams decided to email Mutt Scouts just to check and see. 

Within days, she completed an interview and led the Mutt Scouts team on a virtual tour of her home. She met their requirements, too: Haddie would be the only dog in the house and Williams was willing and able to apply medicine to her face. 

About a week later—in mid-August—Williams picked up Haddie from her foster home and stopped for a puppuccino on the way back.

“We’ve been a team ever since then,” Williams says. 

Haddie’s New Life

Williams is hardly a first-time dog owner, but Haddie is so different from Elly that it makes her feel like one. Haddie would play fetch and games all day if she could. She loves running around and looks like a cartoon character clicking their heels when she does. 

She expected to have to coax Haddie out of her shell to get her used to her new life. Nope. If anything, she’s acting like a puppy, the phase of her life she missed while in Mexico. 

“She’s getting to actually enjoy life for the first time, so she gets to be a little bit of a puppy,” WIlliams says. 

Tending to Haddie’s special needs hasn’t been much trouble either. Men and other dogs understandably make her nervous, so they mostly avoid them, crossing the street on walks if they need to. 

Williams has had to learn a few tricks, too. Without her right eye, Haddie can get surprised if someone approaches her from that side. Williams has also perfected the process of applying ointment to Haddie’s face, which is still healing. She quickly applies the medicine and then gives Haddie a treat. That way, Haddie can focus on the tasty morsel and not on rubbing or licking the medicine off. 

Even though they’ve really only known each other for a month, Williams and Haddie bonded quickly. When Williams was feeling sick recently, Haddie tamped down her usual puppy energy and laid down with Williams for most of the day. 

That doesn’t mean she’s still not a little bit of a troublemaker. Williams surfs, and last weekend Haddie was able to escape through a side door in her crate while Mom was in the water. She even accessed some treats Williams previously thought were out of reach.

Williams documented the minor escapade on Haddie’s Instagram page. So far, she has more than 2,400 followers, proof that you don’t have to be a famous Labradoodle or golden retriever to gain fans.    

“She always looks like she has a smile,” Williams says. “I personally find her adorable and I’m thankful that a lot of other people do, too.”