Maui spent the first eight months of her life with a backyard breeder, trapped in a shed, never seeing the light of day. When she was finally rescued and adopted by a woman who works at a vet clinic, she was terrified of absolutely everything — even the littlest things.
"Maui had a rough start and was so unsure about everything," Linda Orlowski-Smith, Maui's mom, told The Dodo. "Luckily I deal with animals all day through my work and I knew to not push her or baby her, but to just do our normal routine and let her find her way in her own time. She was so bad that she would projectile vomit if we even tried to use a string as a leash."
The Lhasa apso was still struggling when, six months later, her parents adopted a Great Dane mix named Maple. The two dogs got along instantly and Maui was able to find some comfort in her new sister.
"Maui finds confidence through Maple if she's unsure about any situation," Orlowski-Smith said.
In order to socialize and overcome their fears, both Maui and Maple have been going to work with their mom since day one. Now, even Maui is confident walking the halls of the vet clinic and greeting patients, and they both have their "jobs" to do every day.
"They both love the new puppies and kittens that come in — especially the kittens," Orlowski-Smith said. "Maui has to be in the exam room with them. Maple loves the human clients and is especially sensitive to when they are sad. She'll lay on the bench in the lobby with them and lay her head in their laps during sad or tough times."
Maui is great at helping patients who are scared or timid, just like she used to be, and helps them walk over to the scale and will even go into the exam rooms with them.
She also wants to be right next to animals as they are waking up from surgery so they have a friendly face to wake up to. She clearly wants to make them feel safe.
Maui has especially bonded with one of the tinier visitors, a little bunny named Gracie, who occasionally comes to board at the clinic.
"Maui LOVES Gracie and sits by her cage and whines until we let her in," Orlowski-Smith said. "She first boarded with us about a year ago and they became fast friends."
Maui has come such a long way from when she was first rescued from a backyard breeder years ago. She used to be terrified of men and even just going on walks was a constant struggle. Now she's confident, capable and has even bonded with a few of the male clients who frequent the vet clinic.
Maui uses her newfound confidence to make other dogs feel loved and safe, and that's the greatest progress of all. She's an entirely new dog and her family couldn't be prouder of her.
"I give her all the love I can, but challenge her to be confident and brave, something she definitely was not," Orlowski-Smith said. "She's come a long way."