Marion Witte

August 7, 2018

Stewie – An Old Teacher

Filed under: Stewie — Marion Witte @ 1:13 pm

Stewie (aka Jon Stewart) is my 12-pound ShihTzu, and he came into my world about five years ago. He has given me the opportunity to think more profoundly about our personal histories, and how they play out in our current lives.

He and I are kindred spirits, as there is a special language between us. Stewie came off the streets of West Los Angeles, dumped there when he was about two.  When we found each other, he was scraggly (actually homely if I’m totally honest) and he had a variety of health problems.  I cannot imagine what it was like for him to be rummaging for food and shelter, and fending off dogs ten times his size.

Nevertheless, he survived.

Recently Stewie went blind. Even so, he has adjusted amazingly well to his new world – it is I who cried for two weeks upon finding out this news!   Watching Stewie cope with his sight impairment has taught me so much about how he gets on with life (regardless of what has come before) by using all that is available to him right now. Does he see the water dish when he steps in it and knocks it over? No. Does he care? No.  When I witness his actions, I am concerned, but Stewie just goes on with his life, not giving a care about what I perceive as his “handicap.”

When I look at him I wonder what he would tell me if he could relay his back-story. Then I realize that I don’t really need to know the details, as his story plays itself out in his behavior. When he first came into my life, he was skittish, tentative and he would pull his head away when I tried to pet him – those actions told me everything I needed to know.

I wondered if he had strayed away from a loving home – although his actions when I found him contradict that idea. I pondered if he ran away from an abusive situation, willing to wander dangerous streets in search of a better life. That scenario makes more sense to me.

And even now, I watch as he is still willing to approach everyone, his tail wagging and waiting for the obligatory pat on the head. If he does not get what he needs, he moves on, not concerned about whether someone likes him or not, just looking for the next loving soul.  If he senses any type of danger, he removes himself from the situation.

Stewie has to navigate the world a little different now than he did before – yet he is the same dog in the most important aspects. I am the one who is different, because of what he has taught me over the years. These blessed little souls do not judge you.  They don’t care about your view of the world, and they don’t leave you if you don’t always follow their plan.  They just listen, look at you compassionately, and love you.

By the way, what a wonderful world this would be if humans would do the same.

My father was blinded in a farming accident when he was three years old, yet he remains my “constant and forever” teacher and mentor, although he has been gone for many years. He taught me how to “see” things that most sighted people miss.  At times, I find it ironic that a blind dog would come into my life to take over my father’s instructional role.

Maybe, just maybe, it was our destiny.

 

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June 30, 2015

Some Thoughts From Stewie

Filed under: Stewie — Marion Witte @ 6:52 pm

 

Stewie's thoughtsI love taking a long walk around the neighborhood.  There are lots of different smells by the sidewalks, and even more in the park.  Plenty of places to pee and kids to watch on the playground.  And my favorite part is walking down to the shopping center – the smells from the restaurants are great, and sometimes there is a morsel or two of food on the ground.  If I am really quick, I can get it in my mouth before my Mom sees me.

The other day we were walking by the Ralphs super market, past the area with the outdoor tables and chairs for the employees to eat their meals.

There were a bunch of men sitting at the tables, and one of them came over to pet me.  His breathe smelled kind of funny – something I didn’t recognize.  Mom said it was alcohol.  (Note to self: Not my favorite odor).

I already knew these men were “homeless,” as my Mom and I had talked about this before.  She told me I had been homeless at one time, so I think I kind of relate to them.

One of the men came up to my Mom and asked what my name was and if he could pet me.  When someone asks about me, she always says the same thing – “His name is Jon Stewart, but I call him Stewie. He came off of the streets of West Los Angeles.”   And she always lets the “homeless” people pet me.  She told me once that sometimes that is the only act of kindness they get in a day.

This particular homeless man petted me, and then he stopped and looked at my Mom.  He said to her “Please don’t ever make fun of your dog, or call him names, or treat him badly.”  He went on to say “Cause I know what it is like to have people make fun of you and hurt your feelings.”

My Mom started to get tears in her eyes – like she does when she is watching a sad movie on television.  She turned to the man and said “That’s good advice, and thank you for sharing it with me.  It’s good to be reminded of these things.”

As we started to walk home, the same man yelled at us.  “Mam, you seem like a nice lady.  Would you like to be in a movie we are making?”

My mom stopped and asked what the name of the movie was going to be.  He said “The Outsiders.”  My Mom chuckled and said “You know, sometimes it’s good to be an outsider.”

As we were walking away, my Mom decided to stop and turn back to talk to the men one last time.  She said “Let me know when you start shooting that film – I would fit right in!”  We continued on walking, and I stopped to look back.

The man with the smelly breathe was smiling and crying at the same time.  I think they were “happy” tears.

This encounter made me do some dog-thinking (yes, dogs do think).

I don’t understand a lot of things about humans.

It seems to me that people are not so different from dogs.  It’s pretty simple – everyone wants to be loved and acknowledged.  We need to know that our existence is important, no matter what our circumstances.

I feel like a lucky little guy, yet sometimes I do feel bad that dogs are sometimes treated better than people.

Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone had a taste of homelessness, so they would appreciate what they have, and know what it’s like not to have anything.

But then what do I know.

I’m just a dog!

 

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