White Dog and The White Dog Army
Wonderful World Wednesday
White Dog knows that so far this summer the focus of most has been the devastation being wrought by fire and flooding, not on the long lazy days of playing at the pool, sipping cool drinks in the shade, playing fetch on the dewy grass at twilight. Prayers are being offered nonstop that people and their homes, animals (both pets and wild), and those heroes fighting the disasters are kept safe and that the destruction will soon end.
For today’s Wonderful World post we want to share a light-hearted story about America’s favorite summer pasttime, baseball, and how our Albuquerque hometown team scored a major homerun for rescue. We believe it is OK to smile while sending the Power of the Paw to those in need…in fact, the WDA is certain we will all be stronger for it!
Blind Pup Is the Star of Isotopes’ Clubhouse
By Ken Sickenger / Journal Staff Writer on Jun. 13, 2012 Albuquerque Journal
The most popular figure in the Albuquerque Isotopes locker room in recent weeks never wore baseball gear. He just might have chewed on some of it, though.
Stevie Wonder, a 5-month-old shepherd mix puppy, has earned celebrity status with the ‘Topes. For the past three weeks, he hung out in the locker room on game days, galloped around the outfield on occasional afternoons and generally charmed everyone he met. Stevie technically belongs to starting pitcher John Ely, who adopted him from Albuquerque’s Watermelon Mountain Ranch in May. But he’s since become more of an adopted mascot/teammate than a clubhouse visitor. “Everyone loves him,” Ely said. “The players, the coaches, clubhouse guys, everyone. Stevie’s way more popular around here than I am.”
Part of Stevie’s appeal – and his name – owe to his unfortunate circumstances. A victim of suspected abuse, he had both eyes removed prior to his adoption. “We don’t know for sure what happened to him,” Ely said, “but he was in rough shape when he first went to the Ranch. They think somebody didn’t want him and just threw him out of a car.”
As a result, one of the puppy’s eyes was damaged beyond repair. The other was left so badly infected it had to be removed. When Stevie recovered he was blind but otherwise fully healthy. He was put up for adoption as something of a long-shot candidate. That changed when Ely and three Isotopes teammates visited Watermelon Mountain Ranch for an adoption promotion.
“We were just there to walk the dogs and help out,” Ely said. “They brought Stevie out and said they were trying to raise money to help him get adopted. We started talking about what we could do to help.”
Ely and his teammates initially thought it impractical for pro baseball players to adopt a special-needs pet. After all, the Isotopes spend half of their season traveling and the rest living at a team hotel.
But when Watermelon Ranch employees brought Stevie to Isotopes Park to visit his new friends, the decision to adopt was made. “He won everyone over,” Ely said, “so we all agreed to pitch in.”Ely, a noted animal enthusiast became Stevie’s primary caregiver.
But in the home locker room, Stevie has nothing but friends. “He’s pretty amazing,” outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez said. “He already knows his way around the locker room, and you can tell his other senses are really keen. As soon as he walks on carpet, he gets kind of cautious and follows you around. When he gets on grass, though, he goes crazy.”
For better or worse, Stevie Wonder’s run with the Isotopes appears to have run its course. Ely and his girlfriend, Betina Gozo, have designated the fleet outfielder for an assignment in their Chicago backyard.
Gozo spent the past few days in Albuquerque and planned to take Stevie home with her today.
“It’s better for him to have a permanent place,” Ely said, “but the guys aren’t too happy with me right now.”
Such, apparently, is the plight of a minor league mutt, though Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy said you never know what future roster moves might be pending. “He’s not on the airplane yet,” Bundy said. “Something still might happen. Somebody might kidnap him or something.” Bundy then smiled and added: “Old Stevie really has been fun to have around. He’s pretty special.”