Stevie, Salt Lake City, UT
Hi! I’m Stevie. You may know me as Stevie The Wonder Dog.
Two years ago something amazing happened. My future mom and her partner, Brian, were picking up their foster dogs from an adoption event for the Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation and saw a pen at the front with two pit bull puppies. That was me and my brother. We were dropped off at the humane society with our sister when we were 5-weeks old and all three of us were blind.
My mom already had a 10-year-old pit bull mix at home, Boo, who had come into her life as a stray and proved to be a loving companion. Although my mom was young and not prepared for working with pit bulls when Boo arrived, Boo inspired her love for pit bulls, and her experiences with him resulted in her hope to one day have a pit bull she could train and socialize in all the right ways—she wanted an ambassador for the breed.
It wasn’t the ideal time for them to raise a puppy, but I came home with them a week later for a trial weekend. Of course, they couldn’t send me back. As I navigated the house, my head swayed from side to side, and it became obvious that my name would be Stevie the Wonder Dog.
I was happy and confident from the beginning. I loved meeting new people and new dogs. I went with my new family to the farmers market that first weekend, and they couldn’t walk five feet without someone approaching to pet me. I loved it! At the dog park and at my day care, I became a favorite and found new friends, both canine and human, everywhere I went.
It was clear to my mom that I was destined to be an ambassador. I began puppy kindergarten and quickly moved into a Canine Good Citizenship class. As soon as we passed our CGC test, we registered to become a Delta Society Pet Partners team.
My mom was a nervous wreck at our evaluation, but I sailed through it confidently. The evaluation tests basic obedience skills similar to the CGC along with the dog’s natural reactions to strange people and new situations. I didn’t flinch at two women yelling at each other who came close to pet me. I enjoyed their clumsy petting. I did jump when someone dropped a metal bowl near me but I quickly recovered.
After Delta approved us, we started as volunteers at an adult detox center serving homeless and low-income clients. I greet each of them and offer my love. For me, it’s just what I do, but my mom says that for the residents, it’s a break in routine and a positive connection to the outside world.
We hear stories from people about their dogs, as many have pit bulls at home too. Some have told my mom of a bad experience with a pit bull and want me to provide them with a good experience, which I always do. We also heard some wonderful renditions of Stevie Wonder hits inspired by me. 🙂
A woman told my mom that I made her feel connected to her son, who also has a pit bull. On our first visit, a resident declared, “Well, I’m going to go to a treatment program, then the Paul Mitchell school, and then I’m going to adopt two pit bulls and dress them in pink sweaters.” My mom thinks that’s her favorite.
An important part of this story is that we live in Salt Lake City, a community that has embraced pit bulls as many cities have not. Our county shelter has a program devoted to encouraging adoption and targets responsible guardianship of pit bulls. Many well-behaved pit bulls walk around town with their families. In other places that my mom has lived, people would cross the street to avoid my breed, but here people bring young babies to meet me.
It would’ve been a lot harder to expose me to such a variety of people and experiences if our community wasn’t so receptive. Who knows, maybe three blind pit bull puppies would not have been considered worth saving.
Thanks for reading my story. I hope it will encouraged more people to get to know my breed better and think differently about blind dogs like me.
Don’t forget to watch the video of me running in the park.
Thank you, StubbyDog.org, for connecting us with Jen & Stevie.