Blind puppy adopted by baseball team

Fans of minor league baseball team the Albuquerque Isotopes will have something new to cheer about this season in addition to the great plays on the field.

Stevie Wonder, a German Shepherd mix, and his owner, Isotopes pitcher John Ely. (Photo credit: ABQJournal)

The newest Isotope is a 6-month-old German Shepherd mix named Stevie Wonder, and he really knows how to work the crowd. The adorable pup has already become a hit at the ballpark after being adopted by the team.

Isotopes pitcher John Ely first met Stevie while on a team volunteer trip to Watermelon Mountain Ranch, an animal rescue shelter in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

“We were just there to walk the dogs and help out,” Ely says of the Isotopes’ visit to Watermelon Mountain Ranch. “They brought Stevie out and said they were trying to raise money to help him get adopted. We started talking about what we could do to help.”

Ely was especially affected by Stevie’s story. When the Watermelon Mountain Ranch staff first met Stevie, it was clear that the young puppy had been a victim of cruel abuse. As a result of his injuries, Stevie had to have both of his eyes removed.

But being blind didn’t affect Stevie’s spunky personality at all, Ely explains. “He’s got no eyes, but he’s about as happy as they get,” Ely says of Stevie.

When the Ranch staff brought Stevie by the team’s stomping grounds, Isotopes Park, Ely and the rest of the team knew right away that the dog would be the perfect addition to the Isotopes family. So the decision was made to adopt the lovable pup.

“He won everyone over, so we all agreed to pitch in,” says Ely, who serves as Stevie’s primary guardian. “Everyone loves him,” says Ely. “The players, the coaches, clubhouse guys, everyone. Stevie’s way more popular around here than I am,” he adds.

“He’s pretty amazing,” says Isotopes outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez of Stevie. He explains that although Stevie is blind, the Shepherd mix is getting around just fine and adjusting to his new home. “He already knows his way around the locker room, and you can tell his other senses are really keen,” Cavazos-Galvez says. “As soon as he walks on carpet, he gets kind of cautious and follows you around. When he gets on grass, though, he goes crazy.”

Ely’s home base is back in Chicago with girlfriend Betina Gozo, and that’s where Stevie will stay long term. “It’s better for him to have a permanent place, but the guys aren’t too happy with me right now,” Ely says.

Ely plans on bringing Stevie back to Albuquerque to visit with the rest of the Isotopes clan, and for that, the guys are grateful.

“[Stevie] just kind of makes you smile whenever you see him,” says Cavazos-Galvez.

Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy agrees: “Old Stevie really has been fun to have around. He’s pretty special.”

Stevie and the rest of the Albuquerque Isotopes will be on hand to sign autographs and collect donations at the Watermelon Mountain Ranch Mega Adoptathon June 22-24 at the Coors Bypass PetSmart store in Albuquerque.