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The Story of Joey - A Special Dog with Lots of Love

The Story of Joey - A Special Dog with Lots of Love to Share

By Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd.


Medicaid Planning Rhode Island
Attorney RJ Connelly III

2023 has been an eventful year for us, and we've shared many inspiring and touching stories on our blog. To kick off the New Year, we've decided to revisit three of our most popular posts as commented on by our readers. Let's start by taking a moment to reflect on one of the most heartwarming stories we shared this year. This blog is about a dog named Joey who has special needs but has managed to inspire and touch the lives of many individuals and communities with his journey. Despite his challenges, Joey's unyielding spirit and resilience have left an unforgettable impact on those he's met. Let's dive in and revisit our beloved Joey's story.


Animals Make a Difference

RJ Connelly III, a certified elder law attorney and professional fiduciary, passionately believes that animals can provide comfort and support to individuals with special needs. "At Connelly Law, the staff have witnessed animals' transformative power in people's lives," he stated. "We had a client who used to visit us with her dog in a baby stroller, dressed up according to the weather. The staff members always looked forward to her visits as the dog brought joy and happiness to the office environment."


Before adopting the dog, the client lived alone in senior housing and felt lonely and unhappy. The dog brought her back to life, giving her a sense of purpose and companionship in her final years. The love and affection they shared were mutual and heartwarming. Sadly, she passed away during the pandemic, but her dog found a home with a friend in the housing development.


To highlight the importance of animals in supporting individuals with special needs and those who are lonely, today's blog post features Joey, an extraordinary dog from Tiverton, Rhode Island. Joey is a former Puppy Bowl participant who now visits local facilities to assist people with special needs and those searching for companionship. His story is a remarkable example of how animals can make a difference in people's lives.


The Journey of Joey

Joey was born on the auspicious day of December 25, 2021. Unfortunately, he was born without any front legs. Originally named Christmas, he was renamed Joey by Vintage Pet Rescue, a non-profit organization that helps senior dogs find love through adoption. The name change was due to Joey's unique way of moving around - he hopped like a baby kangaroo, which is called a joey.


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Joey standing guard

Kristen and Marc Peralta founded Vintage Pet Rescue to raise awareness about saving senior pets. The organization has been doing an excellent job of helping senior dogs in need find homes. Cathy Larson and Laurie Thibodeau of Tiverton consider themselves lucky to adopt Joey. He joined their family of five dogs, including Murphy, a three-legged pup who soon became Joey's BFF.


Cathy and Laurie had to adjust their home to accommodate the unique needs of Joey and Murphy. They built a ramp for Murphy to get in and out of the house, and there are ramps to help Joey climb up on furniture. They also have gym mats and soft rugs for Joey to play with his furry friends.


Despite his special needs, Joey is like any other happy puppy who loves playing. When asked if Joey's unique condition affected him in any way, Cathy replied, "Joey doesn't know he's any different. It's our responsibility to give him an environment that allows him to live like all the other dogs."


Joey's adventures began as Cathy and Joey were invited to participate in the 19th Annual Puppy Bowl, a nationally televised event shown on Super Bowl Sunday. It was an exciting opportunity for Joey to display his talents and inspire others to adopt special needs pets.


Joey and the Puppy Bowl

The Puppy Bowl is an annual event that takes place on the same day as the Super Bowl. The event highlights adorable puppies playing in a mock stadium while commentators provide live commentary. The event aims to raise awareness about the importance of rescuing and adopting abandoned pets from shelters. It is a fun and entertaining way to encourage people to adopt pets from shelters and give them a loving home.


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The MVP of the puppy bowl

According to the Animal Planet website, the Puppy Bowl is described as a "fur-tastic battle held at the grand gridiron of Puppy Bowl Stadium" that celebrates "competition, cuteness, and pet rescue." The event brings together rescue puppies from all over the country, and they are divided into two teams. The puppies play on a miniature field with toys, dividing the game into four quarters. The game is designed to be entertaining and features fun activities such as the Kiss Cam, the Water Bowl Cam, and the Tailgate Party.


In 2023, Joey was named the Most Valuable Puppy of the event, stealing the spotlight. The Puppy Bowl began filming in October; according to Cathy, Joey's owner, they had a day of filming at Vintage Pets and another day of filming in New York with Kristen. Cathy was thrilled to see Joey's national television appearance and received numerous interview requests from local newspapers and news channels. Channel 12 [WPRI] even ran a 'Street Stories' segment on Joey and Vintage Pets. They also organized a meet and greet at Rumford Pet Store, where over one hundred people came to meet Joey and take his picture.


Cathy describes Joey as well-natured and people-loving. Because of this, she decided to share Joey's love with others by bringing him to events and animal shelters to spread awareness about the importance of adopting rescue pets. Joey has become a local celebrity, and many people recognize him when he is out in public.


Joey's Adventure at Zambarano Hospital

Cathy and Joey set out on a mission to visit people facing challenges like Joey's. Their first stop was Zambarano Hospital in Burrillville, Rhode Island, providing long-term acute and post-acute hospital-level care to patients with intricate medical and psychiatric requirements.


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Joey's fan club at Zambarano Hospital

Attorney Connelly, no stranger to the hospital and its staff and residents, spoke highly of the facility and its people. "When I walk in, I can feel the caring and compassion among the staff in their relationships with the residents there. When I was told that Joey would be there, I couldn't think of a better place for this special dog to appear."


Upon entering the hospital, Cathy and Joey were welcomed with open arms, and they knew that something extraordinary was about to take place. "When Joey went in and met the staff and residents, it was just pure love. Joey has met so many people, and it's the same everywhere he goes. He gives love, and at Zambarano, everyone gave it right back," Cathy remarked.


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Amy and Joey

Amy, a resident of Zambarano, shared her experience with Joey, saying, "Despite Joey being in a wheelchair, like most of the hospital population, that little dog brought smiles to those who rarely smiled and snuggled with people who could barely hold him. He stayed for over three hours and was a wonderful treat for us all." Amy was elated to get an autograph or "pawograph" from Joey and said, "It's going to occupy a special place in my keepsakes."


Amy also spoke about the staff at Zambarano, who are committed to their mission and the residents of the facility. "They seem to know what we need to stay focused on our goals and to keep us from getting down. My disability was acquired, so my life changed dramatically all at once. I thought a lot of terrible things at one point and became really depressed. But having events like this one with Joey shows me that life can be good. It's all about attitude and knowing that you can accomplish most things if you put your mind to it while accepting that there are some limitations."


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Joey's pawograph

Cathy was equally impressed with the staff at Zambarano and all the effort that went into making Joey's visit a memorable and worthwhile experience for everyone involved. "It reminds me of what's really important in life," she said, adding that Joey's visit had made individual connections with people who faced similar challenges, and the bond he developed with them was unique to watch.


Overall, the visit was a life-altering experience for Cathy and Joey as they brought joy and happiness to the patients and staff at Zambarano. The staff, as always, were responsible for arranging this unique event, and everyone was grateful for Cathy and Joey's presence. Amy summed it up by stating, "Here's hoping for another visit from you, Joey!"


Joey's Two-Legged Life

Joey's story has now been immortalized in a book authored by Kristen Peralta, the founder of Vintage Pet Rescue. The book, titled "Joey's Two-Legged Life," is a heartwarming tale about Joey's journey of overcoming obstacles and proving that his disability doesn't stop him from enjoying life.


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Joey's life documented in a book

The book describes Joey as a small dog with an enormous personality and a heart of gold. With his love for life, he smiles at everyone around him. The book is twenty-four pages long and includes illustrations that beautifully capture Joey's spirit and determination. It is available for purchase in both hardcover and softcover versions for $30 and $20, respectively. All the proceeds from the book sales will go to Vintage Pet Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping senior dogs.


Kristen has been actively promoting the book on her social media page, calling it a perfect gift for any animal lover. She also plans to organize book signing events later this summer and fall, where fans can meet Joey and Kristen in person. Overall, "Joey's Two-Legged Life" is a touching tribute to a little dog who has managed to touch the hearts of so many people with his indomitable spirit.


What's Next for Joey

Cathy and Joey are known for their visits to various organizations and facilities where they spread joy and positivity. Their presence at Zambarano and their love for the patients and staff impacted their lives. In a conversation, they explained that they planned a couple of visits to an assisted living facility and a day program for adults with special needs. They have also received requests from some teachers, which they plan to fulfill soon.


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Joey and his friend

Cathy and Joey's primary objective is to share Joey's adventures and love with anyone who can benefit from it. They believe that Joey's story is inspirational, and his journey can motivate others to overcome their limitations and live a fulfilling life. According to Cathy, their visits bring happiness to people's lives and raise awareness about the importance of adopting animals. She believes that many animals need a loving home, and a disability shouldn't prevent someone from adopting them.


According to Attorney Connelly, Joey's story is nothing short of magical. Despite his limitations, Joey has demonstrated that life can be fully enjoyed. He said that pets offer a level of warmth and emotional support that people cannot match. When combined with various therapies, Attorney Connelly believes that pets can help individuals achieve goals they once thought impossible and encourages Cathy and Joey to keep up their excellent work.


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Please note that the information provided in this blog is not intended to and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The content, materials, and information presented in this blog are solely for general informational purposes and may not be the most up-to-date information available regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. This blog may also contain links to other third-party websites that are included for the convenience of the reader or user. Please note that Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. does not necessarily recommend or endorse the contents of such third-party sites. If you have any particular legal matters, financial concerns, or medical issues, we strongly advise you to consult your attorney, professional fiduciary advisor, or medical provider.

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