Joey the 2-Legged Pup Went From Unadopted to Starring in the 2023 Puppy Bowl
Playing in the backyard with his canine siblings, Joey looks like any other playful dog. Except for one difference: Instead of running around, the tiny pup is hopping. With only two back legs and a set of wheels he's not overly fond of, Joey's preferred way of travel is jumping around on two legs.
Born in Connecticut with no front legs, Joey had trouble finding a family. While all his littermates were adopted, he was left behind. But now he has a loving family of his own, and he'll make his television debut in Puppy Bowl XIX on Sunday.
Joey arrived at Vintage Pet Rescue back in July. Alex Petrarca, the operations manager at Vintage Pets, tells Daily Paws they mostly rescue senior dogs, however, they occasionally take in younger dogs and puppies with special needs who need more medical attention than the average pup.
After being born to a family in Connecticut, Joey was the only puppy in his litter who wasn't adopted after he was born without his front two legs. Even though he doesn't have any other medical problems, the family didn't know what to do with him, so they reached out to the Connecticut Humane Society, which then contacted Vintage Pet Rescue.
Petarca works remotely, but she was able to meet Joey a few weeks after he arrived at the rescue.
"I was just taken aback by how cute he is," Petarca tells Daily Paws. "He was like the nicest puppy I'd ever met, so chill and calm. And he's super playful, but to people, he's super calm and just very affectionate and snuggly and super cute."
When Cathy Larson first came across Joey on Facebook, she "instantly fell in love with him." With five other dogs, one of them having three legs, Larson knew Joey had to be a member of their pack. Larson, who lives in Rhode Island, reached out to Vintage Pet and followed Joey's journey until he was ready for adoption. When they met in person for the first time, Larson says it was a "perfect fit."
Joey's New Home
Once Larson took Joey home, her other dogs accepted their new family member right away. Murphy, Larson's three-legged pooch, became best friends with Joey instantly. Joey also created a special bond with Larson's oldest dog, Shady, who is blind.
"I brought Shady with me just to kinda ease the transition for him 'cause I knew he was playing with older dogs," Larson says. "He just is so gentle with her, he looks out for her, he just cuddles with her when she gets a little stressed."
While Joey's tenacious spirit never gets him down, he still has some struggles. He needs extra assistance when it comes to doing everyday things. He isn't able to just get up and get a drink of water or use the bathroom on his own. However, Larson says Joey is very good at letting them know when he needs something and will bark to let them know something's up.
Even though Joey has a custom wheelchair he got while at the rescue, Larson says the fun-loving dog doesn't really want anything to do with it. He prefers to just "hop around" instead.
"When he's at Vintage Pet, because we do bring him back to visit, he'll use his wheelchair and he'll be OK, but for the most part when he's here, he wants no part of it," Larson says. "We use it for feeding purposes just to help with digestion, but other than that he's like a statue when we put him in it."
Larson describes Joey as an "adventurous little guy" who loves playing with other dogs and meeting new people. He's even volunteered with Larson at an animal sanctuary where he met horses, donkeys, and goats. One of Joey's most defining traits, however, is his pure sweetness.
"He loves to meet people, he's just a snuggler," Larson says. "When you pick him up he just kinda wraps his head around your neck and just kinda nuzzles in and that's kinda become his trademark."
A 'Super' TV Debut
Joey's next adventure will take place on the football field when he competes as part of Team Ruff at Puppy Bowl XIX—airing Super Bowl Sunday at 2 p.m. eastern time on Animal Planet. Not only will Joey partake in the cutest sports game on television, but he will also be part of a very special announcement. Joey underwent a DNA test, and we'll all find out his results during the broadcast. (Larson's guess? Joey probably has some rat terrier or Chihuahua in him.)
Larson "can't imagine life without Joey" and says if you have the time to care for a special needs dog, do it.
"Just because they have some limitations doesn't make them any different," Larson says. "They have all that love inside and they are just willing to give it freely."
Stay up to date with Joey and all his adventures on his Facebook group, and be sure to tune in to Puppy Bowl XIX to see if the fearless pup can lead Team Ruff to a victory.