I was lucky enough to open my home to Stanley and foster him upon his arrival in Canada. Back then he was a ragged, skinny, mangey mutt, but lovable all the same. From the moment I met him, I knew, like everyone else, that he was special. Not in the sense that he KNEW he was special or that he was any different or better than any other dog. He was special in the sense that this boy carried hope on his shoulders for other dogs just like him. While he learned to navigate in our home, great things were happening in his wake. People inspired by his video began to email their stories about how Stanley had changed their lives and inspired them. People adopted dogs in his honour, seeing the value in a diamond in the rough.
I wonder what Cathy Stanley thought the day that she found that run down white pit bull covered in mange at a Californian shelter? I wonder if she knew what she was getting into by deciding to pull him that day, hours before he would be put to sleep? I wonder if she imagined him, months later, eyes healed, mange improving, weight put on, happy, running around a backyard in British Columbia, Canada? I wonder if she had any idea that his story would touch the hearts of THOUSANDS of people around the world. I wonder if she realized that Stanley would become the poster boy for shelter dogs? That he would inspire many people to adopt dogs just like him?
I don't think her vision was quite that broad. I think that Cathy did what she did based out of the desire to help just one dog, regardless of the attention or spotlight it would bring. I think that she pulled that sick dog that day because it was the RIGHT thing to do. I think that she did it because she believed in him, she believed that people would come together to help, that the worth of a dog isn't in his pedigree or the shine of his coat. She believed that sometimes, dogs like Stanley are diamonds in the rough.
Whatever the reason, she made a huge impact the day that she sprung that poor boy from the shelter. What was about to happen was enormous. So many people from all over the world worked together, donating and praying, to help Stanley. On Christmas 2009, people all around the world sat at their computer, crying for this broken soul. Many of those people, unable to donate, went to their local shelter and adopted a dog because of Stanley's story. Those who couldn't adopt sent us stories about the shelter dogs they'd walked in Stanley's honour or the blankets that they'd donated to their local SPCA. Whatever they did to help, however small or great, Stanley inspired them and their actions had an impact.
While all of this was happening, Stanley was healing. He recovered from his mange, he had surgery for his eyes and he's gaining weight. There was never any doubt that his body would heal. But, after his rough start, being a stray, with his unknown past, what would his spirit be like? How would that heal?
Within days at my home, everyone realized that wouldn't be an issue. Stanley's spirit was going to be ok. He lived each day like a happy puppy trapped in a giant pit bull body. He snuggled with other dogs, ran around the yard, licked faces and wagged his tail hard and sure. His physical body was carrying the evidence of his past, telling the story of it in his mange and eye infections, but his mind wasn't listening. "This too shall pass" Stanley seemed to say.
Stanley has gone on to be adopted, and he's living happily with a loving family and another dog. It was an honour to be a part of his story and I thank Cathy from the bottom of our hearts for bringing him into our lives.
If you would like to donate to Cathy so that she can continue her work, PLEASE visit www.CampCocker.com . Even $5 helps, vet bills are amazingly high and Cathy runs solely on donations. This is a global problem and it is all of our responsibility to pitch in where we can to help stop this epidemic.
To Stanley I say, Merry Christmas, old friend! xo
*although he has already been adopted, Stanley is featured on the last xmas "home for the holidays" post to remind us that there are MILLIONS of unwanted pets at shelters and rescue organizations across North America. PLEASE, if you are considering getting a dog, cat or something else, visit your local shelter and do not support pet shops, puppy mills and backyard breeders.*
Stanley today in his adoptive home- photo by his owner, Teresa.