When his new doggie dad comes home from work, Pie gets so excited he runs throughout the house searching for his voice.
light colored dog in a blue carrier
Credit: Courtesy of Deb and Mike Harris

Every family will experience a learning curve when adopting a new pet. Puppies conjure special challenges, but adopting a special needs dog is a league of its own. Just ask Mike and Deb Harris of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the new pet parents of Sweet Potato Pie (who also goes by Pie), a blind senior Yorkshire Terrier mix who joined their family and subsequently stole their hearts. 

The newlywed couple had been looking to adopt a dog for a while; but tell Daily Paws it was just a matter of finding the right fit for their little family. Deb would periodically check the online animal listings at Furry Friends, a no-kill rescue shelter in the nearby town of Jupiter. Recently, the shelter participated in the BISSELL Pet Foundation's Empty the Shelters event, which gives potential pet parents the opportunity to adopt animals with low- or no-cost fees. Deb had seen Pie's picture there before, and the photo of the fluffy older pooch tugged at her heartstrings.

The couple knew they wanted a calm dog who would fit their lifestyle, so it made perfect sense for them to consider adopting an older pup. They describe their first meeting with Pie as "nice and gentle and calm," and that's how they knew they'd found a match. On July 9, Pie officially joined the Harris family.

Mike and Deb Harris holding Pie after adopting him.
Mike and Deb Harris with their new furry family member, Sweet Potato Pie, the day of his adoption.
| Credit: Courtesy of Mike and Deb Harris

Beyond Pie's senior status, Mike and Deb tell Daily Paws that they've needed to learn ways to help their blind dog adjust to his new home. "That's been a new adventure for us, but he's pretty resilient," Mike tells Daily Paws. "We're kind of learning with him as we go."

They say the biggest challenge they've faced with having a dog who's vision-impaired is learning how to walk with him on a leash. "He doesn't really know which way he's going, so he can fall off the curb," Mike says. Still, he says, the resilient Pie gets right back up every time. 

Navigating their house is less of a struggle, though Pie is still learning the ropes. While he still occasionally bumps into the furniture and walls, Mike says Pie has adjusted quicker than they expected. "I really feel like he has memorized steps. He recognizes where his favorite spot is by scent and will literally clear doors and make turns." 

Pie with her new pet parents
Deb Harris and Pie on a recent shopping spree at their favorite pet store.
| Credit: Courtesy of Mike and Deb Harris

Despite all of his obstacles, Pie seems to love his new home and adoptive family. "I think he's finally starting to get more comfortable and to realize that this is his new home now," Mike says. When Mike comes home from work, Pie will run all throughout the house searching for his voice, overjoyed that he's home.

The couple say they've quickly grown to love their new dog in the few weeks they've been together, though they understand not everyone has the resources needed to take care of a special needs pet. Before he came to the shelter, Pie's elderly owner was unable to offer the dog the specialized care he needed. But for those who are able, the couple says that patience and understanding can help the two of you acclimate to your new routines together. It can be an adjustment for both the animal and for the humans! But Mike says that folks who have the dedication to offer a pet the kind of care and love they require should "go for it." 

"These poor dogs didn't get a choice of what happened to them," Mike says, "but you get a choice to make their lives better."