Dog of the Day
Joey Stanley - A True Ambassador
by Carie Broecker
Photo of Joey in classroom courtesy of Unchained.
Joey was found on December 16, 2007 tossed onto the side of the road like a sack of garbage. But this was not garbage, this was a tiny, innocent, malnourished, three-pound puppy. Animal Control Officer, Cathy Stanley, was called to pick up the puppy and take him to Monterey County Animal Services. He was all teeth and growls, with multiple bite wounds on his face and a potbelly filled with parasites.
He was so tiny, Cathy thought he was a Chihuahua puppy. At the shelter he would be held for five days to see if anyone came looking for him, and then he would be put down. He was too young and ill to go up for adoption. Cathy couldn’t bear the thought of this little one not getting a chance to survive. She offered to take him home and foster him until he was old enough and healthy enough to go up for adoption.
It took ten days for Joey to settle down and stop with all the spitting and biting behavior. He was acting like a feral cat, but Cathy had the patience and the know-how to work with him. She made sure he had lots and lots of human touch and that he was exposed to a lot of dogs. She also had a female Queensland/Pit Bull mix who took on many of the duties of raising Joey. Joey looked up to her immediately and followed her lead.
When he was eight weeks old, Cathy took Joey back to the shelter to go up for adoption, but the shelter manager took one look at him and said he was a Pit Bull and would be euthanized if she left him there. So he went back home with Cathy.
Being an animal control officer riding around in her truck all day gave Cathy the opportunity to expose Joey to as many dogs, people, and children as possible. She always encouraged everyone to pet him so he would get used to lots of human touch.
This angry, snapping puppy was developing into a peaceful Buddha dog. It soon became apparent that Joey was a lover of all living creatures. He was gentle with Cathy’s cats, bunnies, chickens, and goats.
She took him to work with her, and at the shelter they started using him as an “intro dog” to test the behaviors of shelter dogs going up for adoption. Joey just stood with his calm, neutral energy while the test dogs revealed their personalities. Some wanted to play, some ignored him, and some acted aggressive toward him. A feisty Boston Terrier once latched onto his cheek, and Joey just stood there and looked at Cathy as if to say, “Mom, what am I supposed to do?”
Last year, Joey became a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International. He aced the exam, of course.
Joey is now an important part of an education program with the nonprofit organization, UnChained, founded by Melissa Wolf of Santa Cruz. One goal of UnChained is “releasing compassion in humans through animals,” which is what Joey does naturally.
Joey LOVES his job. When he sees his work vest come out he runs to the door, eager to get going. He visits with and helps educate first graders through high school students, with a strong focus on elementary school children who are at a critical age for tapping into compassion. Joey visits schools through out Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
Joey works with the “character in the classroom” project, which is an anti-bullying program. The program also teaches children what pets needs to feel safe, happy, and healthy— nutritious food, toys, exercise, play and time with family. The pre- and post-tests given to the kids show that before being in the class, many of the children had been unfamiliar with a dog’s needs.
Whenever Joey is in the classroom there are lots of giggles because he bathes the children with kisses. He is such a strong-looking dog that some of the students are initially afraid of him, but he has a gentle way of licking a scared child’s hand first and then working his way up the arm. It doesn’t take long for the fear to melt away and the giggles to begin, and then another heart is opened.
UnChained is dedicated to working collaboratively with community organizations to prevent and reduce interpersonal violence, child abuse, and animal cruelty by restoring the values of empathy, compassion, and respect, through humane education and animal-assisted therapy programs. Visit their website at www.livingunchained.org.