We follow and admire inspirational Social Media Star Incredibull Stella.
I had the great pleasure of meeting the incredible Pit Bull Stella and interviewing her Mom Marika Meeks at a recent BlogPaws Pet Influencer event. I am devastated that Marika’s cancer returned visciously. She fought hard and inspired us all but lost the battle. I can’t believe she is gone, but want to continue to share her legacy.
Check out the inspirational video below.
Unfortunately, I was just recovering from knee surgery at the event, so I was hobbling around in lots of pain and a bit of a haze. I could not shoot much b-roll and even the interview was not my finest camerawork- thank goodness the sound worked well. Luckily I was allowed to use some of their videos and images to tell their story – thank you Marika and Stelly!
Thank you also to everyone at the beautiful Sheraton Hotel in Kansas City where we filmed and to Blog Paws and Chewy.com for bringing us together. Thank you also to High Octane Creations who shot some great outdoor footage of Stella we included.
The day Marika brought Stella home changed both their lives.
“It really was an eye opener for me. I got a good insight into how self-absorbed I had become with my illness. And I think it’s important for everyone to have a passionate loving focus in their life. Stella became that for me. She really gave me a reason to get up in the morning again.”
Enjoy the Transcript of my Interview with Marika and Stella.
Warning- you may need a tissue as Marika’s heartwarming story is so moving. Eve.n more now as I am crying thinking back fondly
Marika’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment.
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer which rocked my world and also my family’s.
I thought I was going to die.
The odds were not in my favour and it was a very, very stressful time. I really found myself slipping into a lot of isolation, depression and anxiety, and also shame.
I felt really ashamed that I wasn’t coping as well as I thought other people did, and so I really tended to keep that to myself which kind of furthered my isolation and my depression. And I just kind of got shut off from the world and I didn’t really know how to move forward.
Cancer became who I was.
Cancer became who I was as a person. I had forgotten who I was and what my life was all about. I didn’t really know how to get out of this place. I was really stuck. I decided, in an act of defiance, that if I was going to have to do radiation, that I was going to ride my bike to radiation every day. So I set about finding a used bicycle.
Bicycles and Puppies.
I met this woman who had a used bicycle. She opened her back car door and out hopped two little dogs. I got down on my knees and one of the little dogs ran up to me, put its little arms around my waist and just buried its head into my chest.
I just felt this energy move through me it was like “whoosh”. I didn’t care about the bike anymore I was just fixated on the dog.
I was not looking for a dog; things were so unsettled it was the last thing I could see adding into what was going on. But I felt this physical shift within me. I needed a dog. That dog already had a home but that feeling didn’t leave me.
I just kept on searching through rescue sites and finally my husband said, “Would you just fill out an application?” And so I did.
Finding Stella at an Adoption Event
We went to the adoption event; I was only going to leave that event that day with a dog if my dog was there for me. I went inside and in walked Stella.
Stella was dumped in a field and ended up at animal care and control. Another man’s trash is indeed our TREASURE.
I went over to this seven-month-old pup in such a chaotic environment. She just laid down on her side and wanted me to rub her belly. I realized she was the dog for me and we adopted her right on the spot.
The Stress on the Families of Cancer Victims.
At the time that I was going through radiation I was away from home for eight months and suffering. My youngest daughter was also struggling with anxiety and with depression but I didn’t really understand the extent of it until I got a phone call. I was told she had left a suicide note and nobody knew where she was.
Thank goodness they were able to find her, and we talked on the phone. She was stressed about the experience she was going through and the real possibility that she was going to lose her mom.
We just made a commitment form that day that we would do it one day at a time. If she would hold on one more day, I would hold on one more day and we would do this together.
When I finally got home, we were all back together again but there had been so much water that had gone under the bridge that we just couldn’t reconnect. We didn’t really know how to move forward.
Stella is the best antidepressant, friend and family member.
All that changed the day we brought Stella home. Katie and I instantly re-bonded as we fell in love with Stella and we’re closer than we’ve ever been before. We continue to have a great relationship and she is a happy, healthy thriving 19 year old. She’s a freshman in college and a camp counsellor. She openly discusses her experiences with anxiety and depression with other kids to help them know they’re not alone.
Stella has done so much to help me specifically, but our entire family as well.
Pit Bull Stella makes a difference with others.
It didn’t take very long but I realized the impact she had on us, she had on other people as well and we had a duty to share her with the world and with as many people as possible and that’s when we started her Instagram account.
Stella’s on Instagram @incredibullstella, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. She has her own website.
We try to get her out in the community as much as possible doing public appearances and advocating for less fortunate. Maybe it’s going to a drug treatment centre or visiting nurses at a hospital or visiting elderly patients.
Rescue Dog and Pit Bull Breed Ambassador
We really want Stella to be that breed ambassador for the much-maligned Pit Bull Breed and Rescue Dogs because she for us is such a shining example of what these throwaway dogs can have to offer us.
When we brought Stella home I had anticipated she would have a few days of being anxious and pacing around the house. She didn’t even miss a beat. She just seemed like she was home and that was the end of the story.
We obviously have done extensive training with her. She has her canine good citizen’s certificate through the AKC and we continue to train ourselves one on one, always working on new activities and new exposures to different situations. We have worked with several professional trainers over the course of having Stella and we really highly recommend it. Everybody should invest in training and socialization.
You know when you adopt a dog it’s not just something you just plug in when you get home and start using. For a dog to be a happy and healthy part of your family they require training. Everybody will benefit. Once your dog knows love, structure and boundaries, they will be a much happier family member.
Stella is very treat motivated, she will jump through hoops and she wears a lot of costumes and does a lot of crazy different things. She is always very cooperative and seems to know what it is I’m asking her to do. But we try to be mindful as well. We don’t want to put her in a situation where she’s going to be stressed or anxious whenever we can help it. We want to tell our story and share our message in an engaging fun way and also make Stella a happy, healthy and confident pet.
Remember your best friend, your next life-changer is probably waiting in a shelter or a rescue right now and if you ask Stella and I we’re going to tell you:
“Rescues Rock! Adopt, Don’t Shop.”
We feel that through leveraging Stella’s platform we can not only maximize her exposure as a great breed ambassador but we can help a lot of people and animals and that’s our primary purpose.
IncrediBull Stella’s Book
Michelle & The Paw Pack says
What a beautiful story. Stella is so pretty, inside and out. It sounds like she’s really changing a lot of lives for the better.
Ruth Epstein says
What an amazing story and thank you for sharing. I am a Domestic Violence Survivor that ran with her rescued dog Baby, and when Baby passed away I rescued Layla. I cannot see my life without a rescued dog, they keep me on my feet and going all the time
MARJORIE AT DASH KITTEN says
What a scary time but what an inspiration Marika is. Wow these things can terrify us but Stella is totally amazing!
Stella has a very inspiring story. It sounds like she has healed a lot of hearts and lives. That’s one thing I love about pitbulls – they have huge hearts.
Cathy Armato says
Stella is a really special dog, I love her! This story is such a great example of how dogs (and other animals) can touch your soul and awaken it. What a beautiful story, thanks for sharing it!
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Jana Rade says
Dogs can be the best psychiatrists and psychologist. And better than Prozac. Such a lovely story.
Lola The Rescued Cat says
Our mom met Stella and her Mom at BlogPaws. and thought they were both amazing. They were meant to be together! We agree- Rescues Rock! Thanks for sharing their beautiful story.
I thought I saw this video a while back and was so touched. What an inspiring story. I love that animals can not only improve our mood and outlook but also impact our overall health by loving and supporting us humans unconditionally. My last cat was rescued off the street and she was definitely my best friend through thick and thin.
Talent Hounds says
I just finished this one but I used some of Marika’s footage to help tell her story so you definitely could have seen that. Thanks so much for watching – they are such an inspirational pair. Rescues give a special love I think.
Sweet Purrfections says
I did not know the story behind Stella. What an amazing success story for Stella and the entire family! I know how much animals can help with anxiety and depression since I suffer from both and have for over 30 years. If it weren’t for my cats, I don’t know if I could have survived. Thank you for sharing the story.
Talent Hounds says
So glad you have the beautiful girls XS
Sandy Kubillus says
I’m so glad Stella was able to help you and your daughter! It’s great that you can share Stella with others and help them as well. She’s a very special dog! Great video!
I love Stella’s story! It is wonderful how she brought their family together and helped them through some tough times.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Stella sounds like a great ambassador. She’s really made a difference in her life and helped people!
What a beautiful, emotional and inspirational story. Dogs, as shown here, have the ability to change people’s lives as is proven here with Marika and her family.
A beautiful story of triumph over tragedy. I’m glad Marika and her family found Stella and are sharing her with the world and with as many people as possible. It looks like Stella is very proud of this role.
Hindy Pearson says
What a heartwarming video, thanks so much for sharing it and Marika’s story. It’s incredible knowing not only what a great breed ambassador Stella is, but how much she has helped her family and those in the wider community. Watching this video is one of the best 6+ minutes you’ll spend in a long time. I’ve shared it because it’s too beautiful not to!