Colorado animal control officer adopts blind Blue Heeler
GREELEY, Colo. — Peter Steeves has a heart for the hard cases, the ones that wrinkle noses at animal shelters, and perhaps the blind blue heeler knew that when he bumped against Steeves’ leg.
Steeves is an animal control officer for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. He was there to collect the heeler because his owners were being evicted and didn’t want him any longer.
It didn’t seem like they wanted him at all anyway. The heeler had a ragged coat, and his milky eyes were probably the result of neglect as well. He’d obviously spent his whole life outside. When Steeves offered him a treat, the dog sniffed at it the way a child might look at some cough syrup. Steeves heard from others that he was aggressive, even mean.
Yet when Steeves put him in the truck, the heeler didn’t growl. He cuddled. Right away, he seemed to appreciate Steeve’s warm hand.
When Steeves dropped him off at the Weld County Humane Society, he knew the heeler would be one of those tough cases, and of course his heart went out to him. Make sure that dog finds a home, he told them.
Steeves applied to be an animal control officer more than two years ago because he wanted to help dogs. He came to Evans, where he moved into a home in July, because his wife, Tricia, is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Northern Colorado. Tricia loves what Steeves does. She has a rescuer’s heart, too.
“He overturns the old stigma of the ‘dog catcher,’” said Matt Turner, spokesman for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.
The Humane Society called Cindy Hungenberg to find a home for the dog. Hungenberg helps run a small rescue organization with foster homes in Greeley, LaSalle and Denver, and she has a thing for cattle dog types. She placed the dog in a foster home, and then she looked at the way Steeves visited the dog whenever he got a chance, and the way the heeler responded to him. Whenever she got a chance, she mentioned to Steeves that the heeler was available.
“Most of the time, the dogs pick who they want to be with,” Hungenberg said. “There was a bond there from the very beginning. You could sense it.”
Steeves finally agreed. But he already had three dogs, Xana, Dexter and Fonzi. They were all sweet and loving, even if they were all a bit off, the kind of cases Steeves enjoying taking in. He asked his wife.
Three’s already kind of a lot, she said.
Steeves texted her a photo of the heeler.
Bring him home, she said.
They named him Spock because of his pointy ears. Just like the misfits who bond together in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the other dogs accepted Spock, even if one growls at him because Spock occasionally steps on them.
He’s the smartest of the four, so Steeves just had to lead him around the house and the yard a time or two. Spock now finds the stairs that lead inside and outside, and it’s hard to tell he’s blind, save for the times he runs into you. They had to put up a baby gate so he didn’t roll down the stairs into the basement and some fencing so he didn’t crash into a window well. They installed a fountain so he can hear the trickle of the water for his dish. Those are the only concessions.
There are times when Spock barks, Steeves said. Part of the time that’s because Spock can’t find something.
But other times, when Steeves leans against the dog, Spock leans back into him and quiets down. Maybe it’s those times when Spock just needs to know he’s home.
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