May 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM ET
After taking her balancing act across the country and becoming an Instagram star in the process, Maddie the dog showed off her skills on the set of TODAY Wednesday.
The cute coonhound gained viral fame last year as she tagged along with photographer owner Theron Humphrey, who traveled the country capturing ordinary people's images and stories. Humphrey's photos of his pet showing her agility by balancing on everything from two shopping carts to a basketball hoop gained a huge following on his blog, MaddieOnThings. Maddie balanced herself on a small table while Humphrey spoke with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on Wednesday about the project that resulted in Maddie's fame on Instagram and Twitter.
"She just has inherently great balance,'' Humphrey said. "While out on the road I wanted to remember my companion I was traveling with so I literally put her on the roof of my truck and took a photo. She just stood there and looked at me and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so amazing Maddie.' The project just grew from there. When you’re traveling, you’re always seeing new things and meeting new folks, and along the way I just started putting her on top of objects I would encounter."
Humphrey adopted Maddie from a rescue shelter in Georgia and set out for a journey across all 50 states that he turned into a book, "Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project About Dogs and Physics" that was released in March.
"I was just burned out on corporate life,'' Humphrey said. "The biggest catalyst was a broken heart, which I think a lot of people can relate to. I just wanted to go out into the world and connect with people and tell stories and celebrate everyday life.
"I think the beautiful thing about this project is that it grew organically over time. It started out really small, and over the course of the year, it just gained more and more traction, and more people got into it. I learned quickly that people just love dogs because they see and smell the world in a way that we’ll never be able to, and there’s something beautiful about that that brings us joy into our lives."
On Monday, Maddie swung by TODAY and took a tour of the studio in advance of Wednesday's segment. She made herself comfortable in a chair in the control room and even popped up at the anchor desk next to Matt and Savannah as they got themselves ready for the broadcast.
"She’s never fallen, she’s never been hurt, and she lets me know her limitations,'' Humphrey said. "We’ve been doing it so long now that we’ve just gotten really good at it. She’s definitely well-trained."
Maddie has become such a celebrity that Humphrey said they were stopped five or six times on the streets of Manhattan by people who recognized her and wanted to take pictures. Humphrey is in the midst of a 50-state book tour and is also shooting a documentary called "Why We Rescue'' featuring stories of other rescued animals across the country.
Maddie has been Humphrey's constant companion on the journey and is usually agreeable to anything he wants to pose her on.
"If the treats aren’t good enough she’s not happy,'' he joked. "We literally spent 24/7, 365 days together, so we built a really special relationship, a great bond. I think the beautiful thing about this project is that it’s enabled me to do what I truly love, and that’s to meet people and photograph folks and hang out with my dog.''
For his next project with Maddie, he said he wants to incorporate photos of her and sandwiches.