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LOST' Lab Finds Stranded Stardom
By Regan Michelle White

The second season of ABC’s hit series ‘LOST’ began on Sept. 21. The award-winning show which has quickly become a fan favorite, chronicles the exploits of plane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island. While the characters may be lost, Madison - a yellow Lab who portrays the dog ‘Vincent’ on the series - couldn’t be more on track.

Madison is owned and trained by Kim Stahl, a native of Pittsburgh who found her way to Oahu, Hawaii in 1998 with her husband Tim, an Army reservist and computer network engineer. Stahl purchased Madison from a local breeder at 8 weeks old and began training her at 5 months. In 2001 she ranked eighth among the top obedience dogs in Hawaii. But the best was yet to come.

Stahl, a full time accountant, trainer, business owner and graduate student, received the heads up about the show audition through friends. “I was recommended for the job with ‘LOST’ and I took Madison to an audition with J.J. Abrams in March 2004,” she said. “The audition consisted of some novice and open level obedience commands which resulted in J.J. casting Madison on the spot.” Madison appeared in 16 of the show’s 24 first season episodes and is rumored to play an even greater role in the show’s unfolding second season.

While Madison, a female, plays a male dog on the show, Stahl pointed out that it is no secret and quite a common practice. “This is something that is quite common in film and TV,” she explained. “…And yes, the ‘LOST’ diehards had it figured out very early in the series.” The first scene of the pilot features Madison approaching actor Matthew Fox and then running away. “The scene was shot at ground level and the shot with Madison running away from Matthew was shot from behind her so it was immediately obvious to the audience that Vincent was missing some parts!” Stahl said.

The type and frequency of Madison’s training for the series is predicated on what her tasks are for each episode. With little lead time – Stahl receives script pages a day or two in advance – there is not much time to practice. That coupled with the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of filming necessitates that Stahl and Madison act as a quick-thinking team. “When we do have time for training I use the game of fetch as a reward and occasionally we train using food as well,” Stahl added. “However, Madison’s background in competitive obedience gives us a great baseline to work with when we’re expected to perform more difficult tasks.”

Stahl credits both Madison’s intelligence and the bond they share for the ease with which they handled all the tasks set before them in season one. “I can’t really say that any of the episodes from season one were very challenging for us,” she said. “Madison and I have a very special bond that gives us the ability to communicate with each other very effectively. Additionally, Madison is exceptionally intelligent, even for a Labrador, and therefore makes my job as a trainer a lot easier than it could be.”

Stahl’s proudest moment of the first season occurred during the finale when Madison had to swim out after a raft the survivors had launched. She hid on the raft to get Madison to come to it. “I was most proud of Madison … when she had her big swimming scene, especially since we completed the entire swimming sequence in just two takes,” Stahl said. “That day in April 2005 was by far the best day we’ve had yet at work on ‘LOST.’ We both got to play in the water in order to shoot the scene and there really isn’t any better scenario for a job than working on the beach and in the ocean with such a wonderful girl.”

Despite the lush surroundings of the series’ Hawaiian backdrop, Stahl makes it clear that it isn’t always fun and games. “The most surprising aspect has definitely been realizing how much effort and how many hours, by so many different people, go into producing this television show,” she said. “The crew that works behind the cameras are the most dedicated and hard-working individuals that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.” Most exciting for the dynamic Stahl-Madison duo has been the opportunity to be part of the show. “I could tell from the beginning that we were involved in something very different and something very special,” she said.

Every day is different on the set – from locations to tasks at hand. “Every hour of every day of every episode is completely different from any other,” Stahl explained. “We could be working at the beach, in the rain-soaked jungle, in a hotel room or at a multi-million dollar mansion.” Stahl added that the cast and crew are very welcoming towards Madison and lavish her with the attention she loves. “The majority of them get down with her in the sand to give her belly rubs and chat about the scripts and latest rumors on who will be killed off next,” she said. “The attention that Madison gets while she’s at work is paycheck enough for her which is why she does not manage her own career!” Stahl added with a laugh.

Managing Madison’s burgeoning career is no small feat, either. Balancing her full time career as an accountant, Stahl also owns Rygwood Labradors which she founded in 2000, providing training, boarding and occasional Labrador litters. In 2006 Rygwood Labradors will have their first litter since 2002. Sharing the spotlight back at home with Madison and Stahl are husband Tim black Labrador Shellbee, a rescue and agility enthusiast and Byrddee, Madison’s daughter and breed champion.

Despite claiming an entry on the Internet Movie Database alongside such famous dogs as Lassie, Benji and Toto, Madison’s pleasures remain simple ones – with the exception of the cool leather couch she prefers to sleep on. “Madison’s absolute favorite activity is the game of fetch, which also involves her favorite toys – tennis balls,” Stahl said. And while Madison spends her working days lost with the rest of her coworkers, she prefers to know where exactly where everything is back at home. “Mostly Madison likes to … be free to roam the house and keep an eye on her people throughout the night,” Stahl said.

For more information about Madison, Kim and Rygwood Labradors or to deliver a fan letter, please visit
You can also email directly to Madison at

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