|The Story of Stevie – A dog who “sees” with his heart
By Grace Bowles
As a foster mom for collie rescue, I agreed to take in a collie pup. Stevie had been found abandoned on the side of a country road. He was a young pup, about 4 months old and seemed a bit lost but very eager to please. He became my little shadow following me everywhere.
Stevie quickly learned all the basic commands of SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, STOP and mastered the stairs in no time when I helped him STEP UP and STEP DOWN. After about two weeks, I noticed he didn’t need me so close. He turned toward me and seemed to say, “Thanks mom”, and happily ventured out on his own in the big fenced yard to explore.
Stevie had learned to trust again and the bond we had formed was amazing. Stevie was my first foster failure. I had prepared him for an adoptive home but I soon realized I couldn’t let him go … his new home was with me. When Stevie was a year old, I was asked to foster a six week old collie pup that was blind and deaf; the result of merle to merle breeding. To be honest, I didn’t know where to begin in training this pup and helping him find a home. From the moment I brought this pup home, Stevie stepped in. He seemed to know something was different about him and would gently lick his eyes and ears as a mother dog would do as if trying to make it all better.
As the weeks went by, I was fascinated by Stevie’s nurturing abilities as he followed the pup from room to room. Checking on him, playing with him and mothering him with a firm but gentle paw when the pup would become too rowdy and nippy. After six weeks, this special pup was adopted to a loving home and Stevie had shown me that communication by touch and smell had a language all its own.
In November 2009, my therapy collie of nine years turned 11 years old. She so enjoyed her work and had been a faithful partner, but age was causing her to really slow down. Would Stevie make a good therapy dog? He would need to be very quiet, very docile, very calm, well trained and able to take as much stroking as was thrown at him.
I should have had no doubt. Stevie passed his test with flying colors and has earned the title of registered therapy dog and registered R.E.A.D. dog. In fact, Stevie loves the attention he receives and will give gentle collie kisses and lean in waiting for a big hug. The positive impact that Stevie shares with everyone he meets is incredible to me. Especially, when I think back to that day, six years ago, when my vet cradled Stevie in his arms and told me this loving little collie had been born blind. People had told me to put him out of his misery. A blind dog could not possibly have a good life, he would be useless and a burden, he should be euthanized.
I would not accept this and vowed to prove them wrong. I whispered to Stevie through tears that he would never feel lost and alone again. I mourned the loss of Stevie’s sight, as humans do, but Stevie never did. He showed me that the blind are not helpless or clumsy but quite capable of performing physical tasks. He could do all the same things, as if he were sighted, even if he experiences them in a different way. He uses his senses of touch, hearing and smell to create an image. When Stevie encounters a person he snuffles his nose around them, without them even noticing, taking in all the scents, almost like a sightless person using fumbling fingers to identify a surface.
Stevie reminds me to take life one day at a time. Not to moan over what life has handed me, but to get on with taking in as much joy from life as one can. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. Stevie is blind with just his eyes, but his love shines through when he sees you with his beautiful loving heart.