The Saga of Stevie Wonder: Part 3

When we first heard that she was being returned, we panicked. We had seen Miss Stevie in the shelter, and knew how badly she might regress if she ended up back there. And with the shelter close to full already, we didn’t know how good her chances were of making it out.

We didn’t realize how many lucky stars were aligning for Miss Stevie while we were freaking out and coming up with unreasonable, irrational plans. Plans like driving back to Maryland from Texas to fetch her and bring her back home with us. 50+ hours of driving and 1.5 dogs too many in our house, that would have been. Luckily, we kept looking for other solutions.

Lucky Star Number One: we found out from Stevie’s family that they were committed to keeping her in their home for at least a few weeks — until a suitable foster home could be found. We can’t overstate how much respect we have for a family who realizes that they have to / want to / decide to surrender a beloved family pet, but then is willing to hold on to the animal until a good option arises. It must have been heartbreaking every day. But it turned out to be critical.

Knowing we had at least a couple of weeks, we reached out to rescues. We contacted Jasmine’s House, our friends at Bully Paws, and a few individuals and families we know who sometimes foster. We even put a vague post out on our Facebook page, stating that a dog we love very much needed a soft place to land — hoping that one of our DC area friends would step up.

Lucky Star Number Two: our friend Catalina at Jasmine’s House remembered Stevie’s story well, and agreed to do what she could to bring her in to the rescue. Several Jasmine’s dogs were being adopted that week, so a suitable foster home was likely to come up.

Lucky Star Number Three: one of our friend-of-friends and blog followers sent us an email in response to our Facebook posting. They were thinking about getting into fostering, and were interested in meeting Stevie-girl. They were a young couple with two dogs, two cats, and no kids.

Catalina arranged a meeting, and took Stevie up to meet her potential foster. A few hours later, we got a call from Catalina, gushing about how wonderful Stevie’s would-be fosters were. They had lovely dogs, a nice home, and were clearly thoughtful, kind, educated, and actively interested in dog behavior and training.  Potentially perfect. And judging from the quick iPhone photo we got, it was love!

A few days later, sh** hit the fan in Maryland. The state Court of Appeals issued an opinion that casts a label of “dangerous dog” on any pit bull type dog in the state, and creates strict liability for not only owners of pit bulls, pit bull mixes, and dogs who anybody thinks look like pit bulls, but on any landlord who has a pit bull living on his/her property. More detail on the opinion is available here, but in short: the Court of Appeals, in one catastrophic opinion, made owning or adopting out pit bull type dogs a hell of a lot more risky and difficult.

We immediately panicked again — what would this mean for our Stevie-girl? Would the family who had loved her get cold feet and back out?

Lucky Star Number Four: Nope. They quickly reassured Jasmine’s House that if anything, the Court’s ruling made them more committed, not less committed to fostering Stevie Wonder. Awesome!

Another week later, Stevie was safe and sound in their home in Towson, and we could finally sleep well at night. Her journey is far from over, but we already feel optimistic about her prospects. Stevie Wonder is a resilient, loving girl. She’ll bounce back from all of these changes — we have no doubt.

And while she starts the next chapter of her journey, please enjoy Lucky Star Number Five – her new foster family’s blog about their experience, Hound and a Half! Stop by to lend some support, ideas, or just plain thanks for being so awesome.

Bon Voyage, Stevie Wonder! We’ll all be with you all the way!

**And a special bonus, Lucky Star Number Six: Stevie’s new foster family is real-life-good-friends with the adopters of another of our favorite fosters, Curious Georgia! What a beautiful, wonderful, small world it is!

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24 responses

  1. what a lovely story. i’m so happy for stevie finding found a new foster family; i just hope that she finds her forever home very soon; she deserves it given what she’s been through. she’s a beautiful dog
    now about the ruling, i can’t believe that such a ruling passed. it’s awful and makes it that much harder to do any work such as finding homes.
    still, i’m glad that she found a wonderful foster family and hope that all goes well!

  2. So wonderful for Stevie girl! I pray her new foster family works their magic (they’ve learned by reading this blog according to their site) and is able to find Stevie a home.

    Yes, the ruling is ignorant. Pit bulls are not easy dogs; they are, to start, terriers and powerful terriers at that. Many of those in rescue have had bad starts, not all of which can be remedied; but blanketing one dog type as “dangerous” is simply stupid and reactionary.

    Go, Stevie Wonder!

  3. Stevie’s whole story really hits me hard because I used to have a wonderful dog, Floyd, who looked just like her. He was also a rescue dog, and after a couple of years of intensive training with a personal dog trainer, I had to let him move on to a better home because of his aggression (which, in reality, was just him protecting Me, as now that he has a male owner, the aggression has all but disappeared!) It breaks my heart, but my boy Floyd is very happy now and I’m happy that Stevie is on her way too!

  4. I’m so happy for Stevie and it sounds like she’s in a great foster home. :) She’s such a beautiful girl & I hope that she finds her forever home soon.

    Thank you for sharing all of the different sides of fostering/adopting.

  5. I second Nadbugs comment. And a big yay for all the stars aligning! And so happy everything worked out for Stevie! Maybe we can get the Pit Boss to march on Maryland.

  6. I’m sorry but I’ll never understand how someone can give up their pet. One of my failed fosters has aggression issues with our other dogs and cats. We love her, and knew that it would be next to impossible to find the right home, so we kept her and deal with whatever comes up. When you adopt an animal, you promise to keep it for life-yours or the animals. The questions I always ask is “would you give up your child when the going gets rough?” No? Then why is it so easy to give up your pet?

    • Nancy,
      I’ve been following this saga, and I don’t believe this decision was made lightly by that family. They put in a good amount of effort to care for Stevie and when problems cropped up, they put in even more time and effort by hiring a private trainer.

      I think it was very wise of the family to realize that they had reached the point where they were at their limit. Their home just wasn’t the right environment for Stevie, and she wasn’t thriving there. And if they didn’t do something about it, it could potentially escalate into a dangerous situation (particularly moreso with a young child in the household).

      It’s not a situation of “this dog isn’t working out, let’s ditch it and get another!”

      Instead of going to a local shelter, the family did the right thing and contacted the former rescue and communicated what was going on. Heck, it looks like they gave permission for this blogger to publish this story, pictures and all, which is very brave of them. I give them props for sharing their story so people can learn from their experiences.

      My two cents.

    • i have to think that with a small child in the household, the bar of acceptable behavior …and risk…drops. And shouldn’t that be the case? There are many wonderful dogs that are simply too big, too powerful, too excitable, too energetic for a home with small children. They aren’t bad dogs. It’s just not a good fit.

  7. Stevie is in wonderful hands! Her new foster parents are dear friends of ours and I can assure you that they have an endless well of love and patience. They offered us plenty of support when we adopted Georgia, and we are going to do everything we can to help get Stevie set up in a forever home. (We can’t wait to introduce Georgia to her foster sister!) We are all routing for Stevie!!

  8. It was because of Stevie that I started following you guys. I guess her antics reminded me of my Rhodesian-possibly pit-mix. I love hearing updates about her, so naturally this saga had me worried, but now I can’t wait to check out Hound and a Half to see how she’s doing. If I could take her home I would! In case you haven’t seen, not sure how national this story went, in Mass we just had a very ‘feel good’ story about a pit bull saving her owner from an oncoming train. http://www.metro.us/boston/comment/article/1142477–pit-bull-saves-owner-from-getting-hit-by-train

  9. I am glad you wrote about Stevie’s journey after she has already been placed in a foster home. It makes it so much easier to breathe while reading. Poor Stevie is now Lucky Stevie and I hope this continues for the rest of her life. Congratulations to her new foster family!

  10. I really appreciate you sharing this story. My husband and I adopted a second dog last September from a local shelter that was a beagle stricken with heartworms and in need of medical care and love. We ended up adopting, treating for heartworms and nursing him back to health. As it turned out, when he got well again he became aggressive. He ended up biting a dinner guest of mine “out of nowhere”. We met privately with a trainer who evaluated him and discovered his aggression came from fear. Had he not been muzzled the trainer would have been mauled. Heartbreaking as it was I knew we could not keep him. We were not capable of handling an aggressive dog and he would have never fit with our active lifestyle. I can say from experience how difficult it is to surrender a dog to a shelter. I cried for days and thought I would never get another dog again. Luckily my husband convinced me otherwise and we adopted our Pit Mix, Eva, right after Thanksgiving.

    I never thought I would ever be a person to surrender a dog. Don’t ever judge people until you have been in there shoes. Yes, some people surrender dogs for awful reasons, but sometimes it really is the best decision for all involved. Good luck to Stevie and good luck to her former family in the future!

  11. “Not all those who want to adopt pit bulls are criminals, not every shy dog was abused, not every dog who growls is dangerous, and not every adopter who returns a pet is a bad person.”
    I wish we could paint that in big bright letters across every wall at MCHS.

  12. I’ve enjoyed ready The Saga of Stevie Wonder, thanks so much for sharing. It really has helped me be more open minded when hearing of families wanting…needing to re-home their pet. I guess because I think I would never do that, its very easy to pass judgement, until we know all the facts. These posts are an example of why I always say “there is always something to learn.”

    Thanks again for sharing; I enjoy your writing very much.

    ~ L.

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