He was named after Steve Kline, the renowned pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. When it comes to looks they sure don’t have much in common. What they do have in common is a tremendous love to chase flying objects, as well as unlimited, energetic spunk!
It was only a week and a half after our beloved Cocker Spaniel, Stedman, had died. Even though I knew I wasn’t ready to adopt another rescue dog, I found myself searching on the Internet for another Cocker Spaniel. Stevey’s wistful, sad, muddy brown eyes pierced my heart with a strong feeling of melancholy and emotion the very first time I saw him. I just couldn’t get him out of my mind, no matter how hard I tried. Back and forth, I went to the computer, again and again, and there he was, staring back at me as if he was saying “Please help me.”
I soon found myself wondering what he had experienced, to be so sad looking, for such a young pup. Due to his obvious distress, which was reflected in his gloomy and pleading young eyes, it was, with no doubt, clearly evident that he had been abused in some way, shape or form.
A week went by and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to find out more about Stevey, whereas there he still was, longingly staring back at me on my Internet screen. Luckily for Stevey, he was saved from the pound (who would have euthanized him eventually) by Sacramento Independent Animal Rescuers (SIAR). Better yet, he was placed in a loving Foster Home with two Foster Parents, their two young sons and two large dogs to boot!
This is the photo, which captured my heart on the internet:
If you look very closely at his left eye,
You will see that he has Cherry Eye, a
common thing among the Cocker Spaniel Breed.
When we first went to visit Stevey in real life, we immediately fell in love with him. Despite the fact that all he did was bark at us, he was a beautiful sight to behold. Those sad eyes, which I had been looking at for quite some time, were now checking me out. However, I noticed that now they didn’t carry the same despair. Instead they were filled with curiosity, playfulness and a new glow, which was cultivated by happiness in his new home. Running, full pace, with both of the two boys and his large furry companions, his gait was graceful, fast and well engineered!
Terri, his Foster Mom, told us that Stevey was found roaming in the streets as a stray. When the animal shelter first took him in, he only weighed fifteen pounds or less. Terri slowly spoon fed him back to health, whereas he had no idea what on Earth crunchy dog food was. Given time, Ally and Shadow, his two new canine mentors, taught him that crunchy food had its merits. Not only that, they also taught him to come when called, among many other things as well.
After two months of waiting for Stevey’s health to return, we finally adopted him. When we brought him home, he cried and barked at every single sound that he heard. Stevey was going through yet another stage of separation anxiety and rightly so. Within three short months, Stevey made five transitions, from the street, to the shelter, to the Veterinarian Hospital, to his Foster Home and then finally to us. Now he was at long last in a permanent home, but he couldn’t quite comprehend that right away, which is a totally normal reaction for any rescued animal.
We bought every kind of squeaky toy we could think of, since Terri told us that they were his favorites. In little to no time, Stevey began to relax and to trust once again. Even though he was pre-conditioned with a horrific beginning, due to his young age, he soon became extremely adaptable to his new surroundings; a home filled with genuine love, caring and belonging.
Now some people scoff at trash pickers. Unbeknownst to my Mother, in 1968, when I was only eleven years old, my best friend and I would take the local train into center city Philadelphia. Our targeted hangout was always the infamous South Street, immortalized in the song, with the lyrics, “Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street.” The two of us were Flower Children of the late sixties, consumed with the freedom of peace, love, and Rock and Roll.
Beggars on the streets made me feel a strong sentiment, filled with immense sadness and pity. What little change I had in my faded, bell-bottom, slit pocket pants, I readily dug out and threw into their buckets. Now, I’ve never, ever picked up a beggar, but if I had seen Stevey begging on the streets, I would have scooped him up and snuggled him into my arms in a split second’s time.
Stevey has not only become my faithful companion, as I am his, but we have taught each other many significant life lessons. Who would ever think that a one year old puppy could teach a human being so many things? Yet, I’m not really surprised. As I’ve matured with time, I have come to realize that whether it be animal, mammal, insect, reptile, mineral, plant, people, Earth’s soil, wind, fire, water, or the Universe which surrounds us all, I know with solid conviction that I can learn from everything I see, hear, smell, touch, taste, feel and finally, do. It’s a matter of respect for the world, as I know it and all of its unique properties. No two are exactly alike and in my mind, that creates a wild world of wonderment and joy! Stevey and I both have a natural curiosity for our natural surroundings.
Stevey was no doubt a trash picker. We’ve had to move all of our trash cans to a higher level or otherwise, he sneaks around and raids them. He actually eats paper. Seeing this for the first time sickened me. I knew that this young pup must have been so desperately hungry with nowhere to go on the streets, except for sniffing out trash cans for survival. I can’t begin to imagine being so hungry to resort to eating paper. It’s no wonder that he was so sick when he arrived at the pound. For that matter, it’s an incredibly, remarkable blessing that he even survived.
Stevey is an acute listener. This is not only due to his obedient response to our commands, but also to every single sound you can imagine. Stevey is quite the hunter and often listens for his quarry. He is absolutely striking to watch as he carefully calculates every move, elegantly pointing, as he quietly stalks his target; usually birds. However, I’m very pleased to tell you that he has yet to catch a bird. For several weeks we did have a neighborhood skunk lurking around in the dark. It was at this time that I started teaching Stevey the command, “Stay by me.” He learned it rather quickly, as I would correct him as soon as he began to saunter off. I truly believe that Stevey knows, from his own experience, that with darkness comes uncertainty.
Watching Stevey hunt has made me realize that our natural gut instincts know no fear, unless we are in a flight or fight situation. Instead it’s our own individual and unique pre-conditioning, which creates and breeds fear, as well as skepticism. It’s taken me all of my life to fully understand, that there is nothing to fear, except fear itself. I can’t begin to tell you how many books I have read on this subject, yet there is no adequate substitute to replace experience or being an eye witness to this very valuable realization.
I believe that healthy skepticism is a good thing, especially in the crazy world we live in. Yet, I also believe that skepticism should be explored and researched to find truth and possibly new beginnings, such as Stevey has found. To remain stubbornly skeptical without first searching for answers to our skepticism, we easily become ignorant and stagnant. Stevey now weighs at least thirty to thirty-five pounds, due to his willingness to overcome his skepticism of crunchy food, instead of eating tasteless, dry paper.
Stevey has also reminded me that it’s vital to remain open to new beginnings, to have the willingness to change for the better and most importantly to follow those gut instincts, which reside deep within. I am following Stevey’s example of shedding pre-conditioned fear.
I feel great gratitude for Stevey’s reminder of what it really means to have a warm, safe home. I’ve never been hungry enough to eat paper. I suppose Stevey does it once in a while out of habit, although it’s happening less and less. Now he seems to be more interested in his crunchy dog food, lovingly sprinkled with special treats. For that matter, I am grateful that I’m not aimlessly roaming the streets, looking for shelter and a safe place to sleep, where I feel warm, secure and protected from predators stalking in the deep depths of darkness and the unknown.
Stevey also exhibits great courage. He has travelled almost seamlessly into an unknown world with little to no effort. When I try to imagine his bony little body, full of matted fur, fleas and who knows what else, besides his cherry eye (since surgically removed), lost and alone, running wildly through city streets, I can see why he is such an exceptional teacher. He’s got street smarts. Stevey’s bravery and strong will is why he is more than likely alive and well today.
Artists are usually very emotive beings, for the most part. We are also visionaries as well, as we can visualize composition. Likewise, Stevey is extremely sensitive. He cries when he wants to play fetch or if he needs something. Despite his bravery noted above, he can be somewhat of a sissy, just as his Foster Mom, Terri, told us, when we first met him. He runs swiftly for Doctor Mom’s attention if he is hurt or in pain. However, I firmly believe that those of us who cry or exhibit emotion, show much bravery in doing so. Why? Because we’re not afraid to let it out!
Stevey brings to mind the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, which is 800 plus years old, as I write this. The following words from his famous prayer describe the spirit of Stevey so well: “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Stevey lives to give and to please. Ever so consistently and lovingly, he gives so much back to us, without asking for much in return. All he wants is to be held, to be loved, to be played with, to be taken for rides, walks and to go outside to relieve himself, as well as hunt, play and bask in the warmth of a noonday sun.
He has pardoned most humans, but occasionally he still barks and growls at those he doesn’t know. Yet, this too has withered with time, with his new sense of security and belonging. We believe that he may have been severely abused by a man, since he seems to be very afraid of most men he meets. Yet, he has a special way of detecting certain men whom he automatically senses that they mean him no harm. Not surprisingly, those men are always avid animal lovers.
Finally, Stevey and I slow dance together, as I sing, “I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night with you,” to him. Incredible agility gives him the ability to stand straight and tall on his hind legs. He can even walk backwards in an upright position!
Just this morning, I was goofing around singing “Sunshine of Your Love,” while pretending to play a guitar. As I sang and played my air guitar, I was dancing and moving my hips from right to left. Who was my audience? Why, Stevey of course! Sitting before me, he started moving his head back and forth in perfect synchronization with my hips. I could have fallen to the floor busting a gut with laughter. It was so danged cute! We’ll have to continue to work on this one!
If I could clone Stevey I would. Everyone should have a teacher such as Stevey in their lives! Just as I have learned from Stevey; perhaps you can too. When you want something so badly that you truly believe in, more than likely, if you work hard to get it with unrelenting determination, it will be yours. Adopting Stevey was a magical dream that became true. Life is too short to live in a dream world. I’d rather live the dream!
In summary, Stevey and I have compiled a list of rules as noted below:
Stevey Wonder Dawg’s Rules of Life with His Student’s Thoughts Added
1. Trust those who genuinely love you.
2. Remain adaptable and open to positive change.
3. Pray not only for those who you love, but also for those who you don’t know that are less fortunate than you. There are so many worldwide victims who are suffering horrific tragedies.
4. Be faithful and honest, not only to your loved ones, but to your friends and strangers as well. We as imperfect human beings are only as sick as our secrets.
5. Selflessly give to those who are in need.
6. Remain grateful for the abundant supply of food, which a large majority of American’s often put to waste.
7. Listen to be heard or your recipients will ignore every single word.
8. With darkness comes uncertainty. Yet, there is always light in the deepest, darkest depths of every tunnel that we enter.
9. Follow your gut instincts with self-belief and conviction. Remember that high expectations usually never turn out the way you envision them.
10. There is absolutely nothing to fear except fear itself, unless you are in a flight or fight situation. Most of us do not have the unique and special talent to foresee future events. For this reason, why do we always seem to fear our future?
11. Remove or confirm skepticism through adequate research and exploration.
12. Seek adventurous new beginnings. It’s never too late to start our day over again. For that matter, how about a week, a month, a year or our lives?
13. Be grateful that you have a roof over your head, with solid walls underneath.
14. Do your best to remain positive and courageous during trying times. Trying times are meant to teach us all valuable life lessons.
15. Don’t hold your negative emotions inside. There they will fester and continually grow given time. As time goes by, bitterness and anger can and will emerge.
16. Forgive those who have wronged you; it’s one of the greatest gifts that we can possibly possess. Nine times out of ten, it’s not you that caused the wrong; instead it is the person who is wronging you. Pray for forgiveness for those who wronged you. Yet, if they are negative people, keep your distance. Surround yourself with positive winners. They are the ones who will teach you the most, as well as spread their positive energy forces into your heart and soul.
17. Dance to your own beat and sing loudly from your gut. Soon others will follow. Perhaps a dog?
18. Laugh deep from the gut. It’s one of the best medicines that you will ever use!
19. Consider getting your animals at local shelters and rescue organizations such as SIAR. You’d be surprised (if you don’t already know), at how many thousands and thousands of animals are longing for the love and companionship in a warm, safe home. Check out www.petfinders.com and you will be blown away by just how many beautiful animals there are who are up for adoption.
20. Thank those who have done a great service for you, your friends, your loved ones, your community, your country, and the world at large.
OK, so I can’t clone Stevey in real life for you. This is as close as I can get.
This Photographer (namely me) has a special fascination with glass reflections!
First and foremost this story is dedicated to Carrie Moore from Sacramento Independent Rescuers, for rescuing him from death’s door. Due to Carrie’s hard work and dedication to her rescue work, she gave Stevey a second chance to find the love and care, which he so urgently needed. Secondly, this story is also dedicated to Terri and Mike Taylor, their children and their two large dogs. Their willingness to nurture a very sick little puppy with food, love, playtime and plenty of compassion brought Stevey back to life! Due to their constant care, Stevey once again found a bright twinkle in his eyes. Thirdly, this story is dedicated to my partner Jo. I work from home and therefore am with Stevey almost all of the time. I pretty much take him everywhere I go in my car. For this reason, Stevey has bonded with me like no other puppy I’ve ever had in my life. It’s as if we are glued together at the ankle. Jo understands and accepts that Stevey has become closer to me, whereas she is not at home near as much as I am. Not once has she shown any sort of envy or bitterness. Jo loves Stevey, just as I do. Finally, and most importantly this one’s for you dear Stevey! GRRRRRRRRRRR and RUFF!
A story all about love and respect, Stevey a buff Cocker Spaniel, once an abandoned puppy running wild in city streets, soon captured my heart with his eyes after immediately after his rescue!