New Brunswick family’s love of raising a special needs puppy raising spirits amid COVID-19

A tiny nine-week old puppy in Dieppe, N.B., with a zest for life and a will to overcome his own challenges is helping give people a reason to smile amid COVID-19.

When the Smith family first spotted a post on social media asking for people willing to adopt a puppy with special needs, Lisa Smith says it was love at first sight when they saw a picture of the tiny puppy they have named Joey.

“There is something about him. That face, it was like he needed someone who was in his corner,” said Smith.

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The family adopted the pup who, Mike Smith says, was born partially blind and with a condition called cerebral hypoplasia.

“It is a condition within the neurological system of the puppy. It causes him to walk and kind of be off-balance a little bit,” he said.

But he said it doesn’t seem to slow him down any. Lisa says he dances when he walks and they were all too willing to take on the responsibility of caring for a puppy who will grow into a dog with special needs

“He is in no pain and I think he deserves a nice family and we were willing to give him that,” she said.

She says how could you not with a face like his?

“There always has to be somebody around so he is not bumping into corners and falling downstairs, so we really have had to puppy-proof the house to make sure that he is safe,” Lisa said.

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Hoping to encourage others to adopt a pet with special needs, she said she started an Instagram account called @lifewithjoeytheboston

“I love his Instagram account. It is so fun and sometimes I get to edit the videos, too,” said 11-year-old Julia Smith.

Lisa said the videos are lifting the spirits of people who may be feeling down amid the pandemic and she regularly gets messages from people thanking her for the posts.

“Being quarantined with no activities going on in the evening, it has kind of become a habit of doing videos and silly props,” she said.

Perhaps it’s his will to overcome or his obvious zest for life making people forget their worries, but sharing him with a world has been a gift, Lisa says — especially now, when people could use a reason to smile.

“You have got to keep smiling because he is adorable.”

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