Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to find a dog a home — and lots of hope that the perfect owner is out there, somewhere.
Petey the puppy’s adoption journey — which would take months — began when he was abandoned at a California park at just 5 weeks old. He was found during the extremely wet winter in pretty bad shape along with a sibling, who, sadly, didn’t survive the day.
The freezing and emaciated pup was brought to the Sacramento SPCA, where he was unable to stand on his own and weighed in at just 2 lbs. To make matters worse, the shelter later discovered Petey likely had cerebellar hypoplasia, a congenital disorder which can cause tremors and lack of coordination (watch his wobbly movements in the video below).
After the diagnosis, Petey was immediately placed in a loving and safe foster home, where he befriended a great big golden retriever and a toddler, who looked past his special needs.
Not that Petey makes a practice of dwelling on that. “The great thing about this condition is that Petey doesn’t know anything is wrong!” says a shelter bio. “He thinks life is great!”
One of the most important challenges for the pit mix is safety — making sure he’s safe from falling down stairs or hurt by other household hazards. Veterinarians at UC Davis helped the shelter come up with a game plan for the dog, which included setting appropriate housing requirements and swimming for physical therapy.
Things seemed to be looking up for Petey when the shelter found him a home — but sadly, he was returned, the shelter says, after one day when the adopters realized he was too much for them to care for.
Petey’s foster mom, Lizz Thompson, worked for two months to find the pup a home, meeting with more than 10 families, and flashing his face in Facebook posts and in email blasts to generate attention.
Finally, the perfect family came forward, a Sacramento-based couple named Simon and Michael York.
“My husband and I were looking to adopt a dog, and we came across Petey on the Sacramento SPCA website,” Simon tells PEOPLE in an email. “We immediately fell in love with his face, and as we read more about his story and his disorder, we knew we had to meet him.”
After spending an hour with the puppy at the SPCA and talking with his foster mom, “we needed to decide if we were the right fit for him,” he recalls. “It took no time at all to realize that Petey was meant to be a part of our family.”
Petey, now 5-months-old, is adjusting great to his new life since his adoption on March 31. “He loves playing tug-of-war in the backyard, and cuddling up with us on the couch,” Simon adds.
The adoption appears to have had a positive impact on all of their lives. “We’ve learned about Petey’s condition (cerebellar hypoplasia), and we are quickly discovering there is a very large and loving community of pet owners that have pets of their own that are living with CH,” he says. “The love and support that Petey has received is amazing!”