For a dog that has no eyes, Stevie Wonder is doing a remarkable job of helping other people see.
Stevie stays close to his owner, Regina lawyer Ronni Nordal, whether it's being a steady presence by her desk or accompanying her to client meetings.
"I think he likes being with me. He likes people," Nordal said, as she gave her canine companion the moment of attention he seems to relish, his perpetually closed eyes giving him a look of satisfaction.
The 14-month-old has had his share of knocks; in addition to having no eyes, he also lives with epilepsy. But Nordal has come to see Stevie for what he can do, not what he can't.
Nordal was fostering several litters for a rescue agency, at her farm, and was caring for one of the female dogs that had given birth to nine puppies. After a couple of weeks, she noticed something was awry with Stevie's eyes, which didn't seem to be opening as she would expect.
"They weren't looking like normal eyes. One day I came home and he was not moving, and was sick."
After taking him to the vet, she learned he was dehydrated, which seemed like a solvable problem, but she still wondered about his fate as a blind dog.
"I actually said, do you think maybe he should be put down?" she recalled. "I wondered how he would get along, and I also wondered because the rescue adopts out puppies, and who would adopt a blind puppy?"
As it turns out, Nordal would.
A second chance
Regina rescue agency, CCRezQs, is committed to saving dogs and paid for Stevie's care while Nordal took care of him. During his recovery, she began taking Wonder to the office along with his IV and bottle, as Nordal nursed him through his dehydration.
'No one's told him he's blind and he doesn't know. He does just fine.' - Ronni Nordal
"I kind of fell in love with him," she said, noting that Stevie sees himself just like any other dog.
"No one's told him he's blind and he doesn't know. He does just fine."
A belief in his abilities led her to enrol him in obedience classes where he did as well as the sighted dogs, if not better. She went on to put him in an obedience test, where he competed as the only mutt and only blind dog, going on to win his novice championship.
"And what really impressed me was there was strange dogs there, a different environment, and he handled it," recalled Nordal. "I was really impressed. I was pretty proud."
Stevie takes everything in stride, adjusting to any situation with a level of trust, she said.
"He doesn't really know whether there's a danger, he can't see it, and yet he chooses to approach life like everything's good."
Despite his unusual start in life, and the challenges he's faced, Nordal said Stevie's attitude can teach others an important lesson.
"It's a lesson that almost anyone, or any animal, that's given a chance, and love, can really achieve anything."