FOSTER, R.I. (WPRI) — Joey isn’t like other dogs.
In fact, Vintage Pet Rescue founder Kristen Peralta tells 12 News that Joey is “kind of a big deal.”
That’s because Joey is one of roughly 120 dogs that will take the field in Puppy Bowl XIX this weekend.
Peralta said it all started last year, when she received a phone call from Animal Planet inquiring about Joey.
“It’s not every day you get a call from Animal Planet,” Peralta said. “We have a big social media presence, so I think he made his way to the right people.”
Following a brief back-and-forth with Animal Planet, Peralta said Joey was officially invited to take part in the Puppy Bowl.
“This year, [Animal Planet] really wanted to focus on some special needs dogs,” she added.
Peralta believes Joey caught Animal Planet’s attention because he stands out.
“What really makes Joey special is that he’s missing his front legs,” Peralta explained.
Joey was born without his two front legs on Christmas Day 2021. Peralta said Joey was the only puppy in his litter that wasn’t adopted, which is how he wound up at Vintage Pet Rescue.
While the Foster-based shelter primarily takes in senior dogs, Peralta said Joey was one of their few exceptions.
“Normally, the dogs we take in have lost the ability to use their back legs,” she explained. “He was actually the first dog we took in that was missing his front legs.”
Peralta said Joey has been spoiled ever since.
“Everybody loves Joey,” Peralta said.
While Joey prefers to hop around on his hind legs, Peralta said he also has a customized wheelchair to help him get around.
“He doesn’t know he’s any different,” she continued. “He’s just a lovely little dog.”
It didn’t take long for Joey to find his forever home.
Cathy Larson and Laurie Thibodeau adopted Joey soon after he arrived in Rhode Island.
Larson said she knew Joey and their three-legged dog Murphy would make a “perfect pair.”
“I saw his picture and fell in love,” Larson said. “He teaches us every day that a disability is just something that’s written on paper.”
“The way that he and Murphy play … they’re just like regular dogs,” she added.
Joey didn’t have any trouble taking the field for “Team Ruff” last fall when Puppy Bowl XIX was filmed, according to Peralta.
“I think he had a good time,” she said, adding that Joey “slept for two days” upon returning home.
Peralta said she has no idea which team won, and joked that Joey has “signed a non-disclosure agreement.”
“He was sworn to secrecy,” she said with a laugh.
Peralta said the winner won’t be the only surprise announced Sunday.
While she believes Joey is a chihuahua-rat terrier mix, Peralta said results from a DNA test taken during filming will also be revealed.
Puppy Bowl XIX airs Sunday at 2 p.m. on Animal Planet.