Our Stephi Dog came into our lives when Addison was 131/2, just finishing up his 8th grade year. He was so excited to train a guide dog for the blind. We jumped in as a family and had a great time going to meetings and learning all there was about getting a dog ready to assist a blind person.
Stephi came to us the Spring of 2001.
She was a beautiful yellow lab with 'Z" fur on her back bone that faded into her tail. SHe had a great temperament. She was so kind and loving with soulful brown eyes. She was smart, patient and loyal. Everything one could hope for in a dog.
Addison loved taking Stephi to school with him each day, and church...and the store and EVERYWHERE. The attention was good for Addison and the responsibility too. Stephi learned about "one time" morning feedings; about "doing business" on command. Stephi learned to socialize with other dogs and people.....how not to smell and lick, fetch and roll over and do the basic "dog" things.....but to be more like a person.
A month before Stephi was supposed to report for duty...she almost died, and it was ALL my fault.
Talk about mother guilt.
We had just returned home from our family Vacation and I walked into my back yard and went "CRAZY!" I didn't have one flower left.....we were under attack by snails. I hate snails. I went into the garage and pulled out the snail bait and went to town in the back yard, sprinkling it EVERYWHERE.
The next night, while Wayne was at a baseball game with Monson and Truman....Addison noticed Stephi was foaming at the mouth and shaking. She wasn't doing good AT ALL. We picked her up and put her in truck and started calling vets ...no one was answering their phones. It was 7 at night, but where were all of the vets? I called all through the phone book....finally one animal hospital answered in SLC....we drove straight there, praying and crying over our Stephi. She couldn't die. She wasn't really our dog. Technically she was on on loan to us for training. This was an expensive puppy...and now because of my snail bait rampage, she was dying. It was horrible.
The vets were all at an annual convention dinner for all of Utah just when I needed them most.
Addison was sobbing. Landon was hysterical. I was praying harder than I had prayed in a very long time for Stephi's life. We carried Stephi into the hospital in the nick of time. The Dr. couldn't believe she was alive after all of the poison she had digested. Stephi was put on machines and a stomach pump and had tubes running every which way. My dad came to the vets after we were told that Stephi was probably going to die. My dad looked at us all sobbing and said, "Have some Faith....she can make it!" He was prophetic. We contacted Guide Dogs...and they said do everything you can to keep her alive....it was thousands of dollars in dr. bills that Guide Dogs paid out for her. The doc said it was a miracle that Stephi pulled through. She had a one week hospital stay....then came home and laid around for a while...Soon she was good as new and a month later, Wayne, Addison and Landon were driving her to her new guide dog life.
Stephi was a part of our family....and it was really hard, at the end of one year of training to take the dog up to Washington State and drop her off for her finishing school.
We knew she would be a great companion and this is what our goal had been all along....but we cried, just the same. I was glad to have all of the sheddy pet hair out of my house. Laila always ended up covered in it.
As luck would have it..............
Stephi didn't last long as a guide dog.
She was too allergic to her food, and slobbery. No one wants a slobbery dog laying by them at a restaurant or other public place. She did okay on really expensive-- no allergy dog food, but what blind person can afford that? So......... Stephi retired early in her duties.
And......we got a lucky phone call and asked if we would like to have Stephi for our family dog. Addison and the boys were thrilled. We took her on hikes and family vacays to the cabin. She was just another one of our kids.
I was happy....but not excited about the pet hair everywhere in my house, once more.
We all loved Stephi....even though she was big and hairy.
Stephi always let Laila do what ever she wanted. Laila would pull on Stephi's face, and grab her eyes. Laila would hold onto Stephi's tongue....Stephi would put her tongue back in her mouth, Laila was still holding on to it....clear up to her armpit. It looked like the dog had swallowed my babies arm. It was quite a sight. Laila would fall asleep on the dog, or in Stephi's dog bed.....she would read books to Stephi and have conversations with her.
We had Stephi in our home for 4 years, then , when I couldn't take the allergies and dog hair one more minute...my good friend Linda Wangsgaard took Stephi. This was a good time to let go of this dog...Addison was leaving on a mission soon, and he was her main care giver.
Linda is so kind hearted and a real animal lover. This was Stephi's perfect fit.
We still got to see Stephi and tend her when the Wangsgaards went out of town...so it was the best of both worlds.
Stephi was thrilled when Addison got home off his two year mission. She bounded down the steps and wagged her entire body. She remembered with kindness her first boy/master from so many years ago.
Stephi played the role of Sandy the Dog in Bountiful High School's musical ANNIE, last winter. Laila was an orphan, Monson was in the chorus, and Truman played Rooster. I was the proud mamma watching all of my kids and bursting with pride every night when Stephi did her dog thing.....and stole the show ( or atleast the scenes she was in).
Why am I writing and remembering Stephi on this day?
Stephi has been acting droopy with no-energy lately. She stopped eating this past weekend., her hair was falling out. Her face was going grey. Linda was sick about it. She took Stephi to our friend vet...Eric Belnap. Stephi was diagnosed with Lymphoma and put down today.
Addison got to say his last Goodbye's to this sweet boy hood dog of his. I'm so glad the Wangsgaards included him in this. He went into the vets and Stephi saw him and walked slowly over to Addison wagging her tail and gently placed her head in Addison's lap. What a good dog. Addison said, "I was there when she was a young puppy and came into my life, so it was good that I was there when she drifted out again."
We are so sad.
What a beautiful dog Stephi was--so smart, good, patient and loyal.
She will be missed by all of us.......
I know she is happy in Dog Heaven....