Back in 2005, Michelle Calicchio and her family adopted a yellow lab named Maggie. While their intent was to be a one-dog household, it turned out that they’d be anything but.
In the time since, they have become a wonderful foster family, taking care of more than 60 dogs over 12 years — animals who needed a safe, loving place to stay until they, too, found their forever homes like Maggie.
And Maggie has been an integral part of the process.
A few years ago, Caliccio fostered a small, stray Chihuahua named Percy. She’d found him wandering around an Arizona neighborhood. Eventually, his owner was found, but she found herself hooked on taking care of him and decided to foster other small dogs for AZ Happy Tails animal rescue.
Early on, one of their fosters, a little dog called Jasper, hopped onto Maggie’s back and laid down right on top of her.
“We just thought that is so odd,” Calicchio told The Dodo. “We thought, ‘Why is he doing that?'”
Jasper may have been the first, but he was far form last. Calicchio said that about 25 of the dogs she’s fostered have used Maggie as their personal dog bed.
“She just lies there and allows it,” Calicchio said. “She’s not super interactive with them. She doesn’t necessarily seek them out, but they seek her out…. I think it’s because she’s warm and she’s soft. But it’s the strangest thing. Not every single one of them does it, but a lot of them do, and independently of each other — so it’s not a learned behavior. I don’t know what it is about her.”
Dr. Jill Sackman, senior clinician and animal behaviorist at BluePearl Veterinary Clinic in Michigan, told The Dodo there could be an explanation.
“She must be a very sweet dog who enjoys companionship,” Sackman offered. “I think there are a lot of labs out there who are like this, and who enjoy the company of other dogs. The foster dogs might be nervous and insecure, and she allows them to touch and snuggle with her.”
Whatever the reason, the foster dogs certainly make themselves at home.
“I actually have pictures of dogs who have taken bones, and they will climb on top of her and chew their bones, and she just lays there,” Calicchio said. “Every time it happens, we think it’s so unique!”
Often — and with funny results — Calicchio says Maggie doesn’t even appear to notice.
“…Because if she hears the treats bag, and there’s a dog on top of her, she’ll just get up and they’ll go tumbling off,” Calicchio added. “It’s crazy…. She’s got to be the world’s most tolerant dog.”