When paranormal investigator Jason Hawes decided to add a four-legged ghost hunter to his team, he knew the dog would need to be a rescue.
“I wanted a dog that was fully wild,” says Hawes during a recent filming break from his popular Syfy reality series, Ghost Hunters, which makes its ninth-season debut tonight (Wednesday, September 5). “Some of the places we investigate could have animals hiding inside, like raccoons or possums. I wanted a dog who could give me information but also protect herself if necessary.”
Maddie, an Australian Cattle Dog/German Shepherd mix at a high-kill shelter in Tennessee, fit the bill. Hawes found her online in 2010, then had her temperament tested to ensure she would get along with his other dogs. Maddie passed, so he brought her to Rhode Island to join not only his ghost-hunting team, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, but also the Hawes family. It was quite the transition for the formerly wild dog. “She was used to living off the land,” says Hawes. “We’d give her dog food, and she’d go outside to dig up worms for dinner.”
Maddie, now about 4 years old and entering her third season on Ghost Hunters, has come a long way as a family member and a paranormal investigator. “To see a dog who had her life now be a part of a family, so sweet and loving and adorable, it’s just amazing,” says Hawes, who has five children and two other dogs with his wife, Kris. “I just love Maddie. She’s the sweetest, nicest dog.”
When on a case, Maddie helps her fellow investigators by putting a dog’s highly sensitive senses to work. She alerts Hawes through body language — raised hackles, upright ears — to sounds not audible to humans and also to high electromagnetic fields, and she follows smells and zooms in on slight movements. Or as those in the paranormal community would say, Maddie catches EVPs (electronic voice phenomena), high EMFs (electromagnetic fields), phantom smells, and shadow figures. Team members then investigate further in an attempt to either debunk the activity or verify it as evidence of the paranormal.
Check out Maddie during an investigation of Pennsylvania’s Hill View Manor in season seven:
Fans of the show can expect to see more of Maddie this season, as the success of her training has Hawes taking her on more cases.
“She may get a couple of feet in front of me, to be the first to see if something is there, but I can make a sound to let her know to come back and stay at my side. She has learned a lot, learned my routine and what I need,” says Hawes.
“We were on a residential case in South Carolina,” says Hawes of an investigation captured for season nine. “The family believed there was a figure there, a relative to them. Maddie got excited [and] was picking up on sounds we were not. Sure enough, when we listened to the recording, there were EVPs.”
Hawes stresses that while he does put Maddie in situations that might spook an untrained dog — and most humans — he never takes her into unsafe places.
“I walk through, make sure there’s nothing on the floor she could step on or eat. When we go up and down stairs, I’m overly cautious with her,” says Hawes. “She’s like one of my kids. She’s part of the family. We’ve always taken care of our dogs that way.” Three dogs currently get such care as members of the Hawes family: Maddie and Australian Shepherds Chewy and Tucker.
Not only will fans enjoy seeing Maddie more this season, her presence may help ease the sadness surrounding investigator Grant Wilson’s retirement. Wilson has been with TAPS since the beginning, nearly 20 years, but will no longer appear on the show with Hawes and the rest of the team.