Emerson the black Labrador puppy has only known a “ruff” life since he was born. Abandoned on the side of the road with the rest of his litter, things didn’t get much better after he was taken to a shelter. A myriad of fatal health problems nearly got in the way of Emerson’s adoption, not to mention his chance at a happy life. Even after this puppy started recovering, many potential forever homes were deterred by his “special needs” – that is, until fate brought along the one person that could understand him…
Abandoned On The Roadside
This sweet boy’s name is Emerson. He and his siblings were less than six weeks old when they were abandoned on the side of the road in northwestern Florida. Thankfully, a good Samaritan found them and brought them to the North Florida Rescue.
NFR saves many animals from high kill shelters. Their dedicated team of volunteers fosters and cares for the animals until they can find forever homes. But for Emerson, finding a forever home wasn’t easy.
A “Special Needs” Puppy
Shortly after being taken in, Emerson and his siblings were transferred to NFR in Maine. At eight weeks old, there was hope that the black Labrador puppies would fare well at NFR Maine but that simply wasn’t the case – at least when it came to Emerson.
Emerson turned out to be the runt in comparison to his siblings. He also had a deformity in his leg that labeled him a “special needs” dog.
Emerson Began Having Seizures
Emerson’s front left leg turned out to be the least of his problems. It wasn’t long before the young puppy began experiencing regular seizures. “We have him at the emergency vet and are doing whatever we can to help him. He is currently receiving fluids and we will be having a series of [tests] run on him,” NFR Maine shared on Facebook.
Emerson’s emergency vet bills at that point were as much as $850 and counting.
Emerson Was Left Behind
The cause of Emerson’s seizures remained a mystery and to make matters worse, the pup wasn’t eating or drinking. Despite the fact that the seizures began subsiding the next day, Emerson had to stay in the hospital to remain on fluids.
Meanwhile, his siblings generated interest among potential forever homes. Emerson saw himself get left behind as a result of his health problems, which only continued to get worse for him.
And at that point, finding Emerson a home would prove to be harder than expected…
He Contracted A Fatal Virus
Seizures weren’t the only issue Emerson encountered in his short life. Not long after they started going away, the puppy developed a case of Parvo.
Otherwise known as Canine Parvovirus, the highly contagious disease is spread by contact with infected dogs and contaminated surfaces. It affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tracts and can cause death within three days. Unvaccinated dogs and those under four months old are particularly at risk. Emerson was less than ten weeks old at this point.
The Rescue Didn’t Think He’d Survive
While all of Emerson’s siblings were adopted right after arriving at NFR Maine, he was “struggling to survive.” In fact, the volunteers at NFR Maine were already preparing for the worst possible scenario.
“With all that this poor boy has been [through] already in his short life, his body is already weak and we have to brace ourselves that he may not make it. That is a cold reality of rescue, we lose some,” they wrote.
He Recovered, But There Was Still Something Wrong
The volunteers at NFR Maine did everything they could to give Emerson a fair, fighting chance at a good life. Soon, by some miracle, Emerson began healing from his seizures and his Parvo diagnosis.
But despite the fact that Emerson was healing, he wasn’t completely out of the woods. Perhaps it wasn’t his myriad of health problems that held Emerson back from getting adopted. There was something else that made him a “special needs” puppy.
He Appeared On TV So Someone Would Want Him
As he was healing, NFR Maine made a strong effort to find Emerson his new forever home. The volunteers even appeared on local television to state his case and what they said pulled at many viewers’ heartstrings.
“Emerson had a pretty rough start to life… [He] was having seizures, we weren’t sure why. He was hospitalized and developed Parvo. And they do believe he is deaf and maybe visually impaired,” volunteers shared on the TV 5 Morning Show in Maine.
Emerson’s foster mom couldn’t understand why no one wanted Emerson. As you’re about to see, she would make a strong case for this puppy.
Emerson Had No Hearing, But A Lot Of Heart
So not only did this little guy suffer from a leg deformity, seizures, and Parvo within ten weeks of his life, he was also deaf (and possibly blind) for a majority of that time. That didn’t keep Emerson from being a happy dog though.
“Once we got him from the vet’s office from Florida, we realized he had hearing difficulties. He doesn’t let it bother him at all though, he’s a typical puppy,” volunteer Lindsay Powers told Good Morning America.
Emerson Had Fun Despite His Health
Veterinarians and volunteers weren’t sure how Emerson came to be deaf either. “It is unknown if I was born deaf or if it was from the seizures,” Powers shared on Facebook on behalf of Emerson.
“What IS known is that a lack of being able to hear doesn’t keep me down!” Emerson likely wasn’t blind and despite being unable to hear, he enjoyed going on shopping trips, car rides, and playing with the kids in his foster family.
They Thought People Didn’t Want Him
Despite Emerson’s “happy-go-lucky” nature, NFR Maine couldn’t find any takers when it came to his adoption. With all of his siblings gone, they believed it was Emerson’s disclaimers that were holding him back.
Emerson was 12 weeks old and still looking for his forever home. “My Foster mom thinks that’s because people see that I’m deaf, and that makes people nervous but she wants everyone to know that being deaf is the LEAST of my worries!” Powers wrote on Facebook.
His Foster Mom Posted A Public Plea
While fostering Emerson, NFR volunteer Lindsay Powers simply couldn’t understand why this little guy had a hard time finding someone to adopt him. She even shared his story and some adorable photos of him on Facebook.
“‘My foster mom says she pictures me with someone that loves to be outside doing things like camping and going on adventures! I do really well on a leash and respond to vibrations if you need to get my attention,” she wrote.
Coming up, fate would bring the right person into Emerson’s life. All he had to do was ‘choose,’ as you’ll soon see.
He Was Becoming A Local Celebrity
Soon, many of the locals in Maine gained wind of Emerson’s story. “We had so many people ask about him! (He was getting to be a one name celebrity around these parts!),” NFR Maine shared on their Facebook page.
But despite the fact that many people knew Emerson was still looking for someone to adopt him, NFR Maine still had trouble finding his perfect forever home. After all, Emerson was unlike most dogs.
Someone With A Special Connection
Finally, Emerson’s saving grace came in the form of Nick Abbott. Some might say it was destiny that Abbott expressed interest in Emerson. He contacted NFR Maine about Emerson, telling them that he might understand Emerson better than other potential new owners.
“Right off the bat, he said, ‘I’m deaf also and I feel like we’d have a good connection,'” Powers told Good Morning America. Thinking that she found the one, Powers processed Abbott’s adoption application within a day.
Could It Be A Perfect Match?
Nick Abbott heard about Emerson after seeing a post on his Facebook feed. “I was born deaf. I said- Oh, he’s deaf too… Maybe I can go check him out to see what he’s all about,” Abbott told CBS-affiliate WABI-TV.
There couldn’t have been a more perfect match for Emerson. Not only was someone willing and ready to take care of the puppy, but they would also share a special bond between the two of them.
Emerson ‘Picked’ His New Owner
A couple of days later, Abbott was on his way to meet Emerson for the first time. When Abbott first arrived at Emerson’s foster home, it was as if the stars had aligned right then and there.
“He came straight to me at the door and sat right away at my feet and stayed there. So you can tell he kind of picked me,” Abbott said with a smile. Emerson had finally found the perfect new owner.
Now that Emerson had a forever home, he was about to learn something most dogs don’t have a clue about…
Emerson Still Had A Lot To Learn
The fact that Emerson walked right up to Abbott the moment he saw him was a sure sign that the two of them were meant to be in each other’s lives. “I knew right then and there that we would get along and understand each other pretty good,” Abbott told WABI-TV.
Now that Emerson had found the perfect forever home with Abbott, he lives as one of the happiest puppies in Maine. But there was still a learning curve for this pup.
Learning His Tricks With Sign Language
Since the two have found each other, Abbott has begun teaching Emerson sign language. Just because he has a disability, doesn’t mean that his life would be different than other puppies. After all, he was at the prime age to learn some basic commands and neat tricks.
Though Abbott says that Emerson can respond to certain tones and pitches, sign language allows him to better communicate with his new dog.
So Far He Can Sit And Lie Down
So far, Emerson can sit and lie down on command. Of course, he does this using the visual cues of sign language. To tell Emerson to sit, Abbott signs the letter ‘s’ in sign language. It was one trick that Emerson had down to a tee.
For “lie down,” Abbott sweeps his hand across in a straight line. Emerson performed the command effortlessly for the first time when WABI-TV came to interview Abbott.
It Was Meant To Be
After all that he had gone through in the first three months of his life, Emerson finally got the fairy-tale ending he deserved. His disability may have held him back before but it brought him closer to just the right person. Emerson now embarks on his happy new life with his best friend Nick Abbott.
“The bond that we have is awesome. We understand each other very well. I’d like to think it was meant to be. He’s special,” Abbott said.