Unwanted Deaf Puppy Finds Companion Who Truly Gets Him

By: Past Chronicles Staff | Published: Sep 24, 2023

Meet little Emerson. He’s had his share of scrapes in life. You might even say that it’s been “ruff.” After being abandoned by the roadside with his little siblings, Emerson was taken to a shelter where he was diagnosed with fatal—and expensive—health issues.

That might have been the end of this pup, but thankfully, he met someone who could give him all the love and care he deserved.

A Difficult Start In Life 

Emerson, along with his six-week-old brothers and sisters, was left all alone by the side of the road in northwest Florida. A kind stranger spotted them and brought them to the North Florida Rescue. They could have otherwise been sent to high-kill shelters, but luckily, Emerson was sent to the right place.

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Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

North Florida Rescue’s main aim is to care for animals and find them foster homes until they can find a home of their own. But even for this beautiful pup, it wasn’t easy to find him a family.

Emerson Needed Extra Special Care

Two weeks after they were picked up and given care, the black Labrador pups were sent to another rescue center in Maine. While Emerson’s siblings had high prospects for health and adoption, our boy wasn’t so lucky. It wasn’t just that he was the runt of the litter, which made him the smallest of the bunch—there was something else.

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Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

Although it wouldn’t be obvious at first glance, his leg had developed a deformity. He was labeled a “special needs” puppy, which can sometimes complicate homing efforts.

It Wasn’t Just His Leg

As well as having to deal with his leg, Emerson began having seizures. They began coming regularly, and he needed help each time—so much help that they had to send him to the vet for observation and treatment, where he received a series of tests and fluids.

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Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

The vets did everything they could to keep Emerson alive. But the costs were high—this time in terms of finance. The overnight procedures had cost the center as much as $850—they couldn’t afford to keep him alive this way forever.

A Deformed Leg, Seizures, And No Will To Go On… 

The bad luck just kept coming for Emerson. First his leg, then the seizures—Emerson eventually stopped drinking water or eating anything he was given. The puppy seemed to have given up on life. Thankfully, his seizures, which had an unknown trigger, stopped as soon as they had begun. 

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Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

But he still had to receive further treatment with fluids at the hospital. As all this was happening, his siblings were being picked out for homes. Emerson found himself all alone in the world, with little hope.

Another Hurdle For The Pup

After the seizures subsided and he looked to be getting better, Emerson took another hit—he developed Canine Parvovirus—or Parvo. The disease is highly contagious and can be caught through an infected floor or surface and other infected dogs.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

Parvo is an extremely serious condition, especially for young dogs who have already been knocked around with other problems, as Emerson had been. It affects a dog’s intestines and can be fatal within a three-day window. At ten weeks old, Emerson didn’t seem to stand a chance.

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Emerson Fought, But The Volunteers Weren’t Optimistic

By this point, all of Emerson’s siblings had been adopted by families in Maine. Emerson was all alone and struggling to draw breath. The volunteers at the center were already bracing themselves to hear sad news as each day passed. 

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

Emerson had already been through so much. He was a true underdog—the runt of the litter, a bad leg, hit by seizures, then a fatal disease. Such a small body can only take so much. Sometimes in life, even after every measure has been taken, a loss is inevitable. 

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But Emerson Was A Fighter, And He Never Gave Up

Just as mysteriously as the seizures came, Emerson’s status began to change. He slowly regained his strength, his appetite, and his will to keep going. With the volunteers’ support, Emerson was healing. He was even fending off the Parvo.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

Although it seemed impossible, Emerson was winning back his life—slowly but surely. But getting better was only one step. Another roadblock lay ahead, preventing his ready adoption. He was a special needs pup for more than just his deformed leg. It was his ears.

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They Put Little Emerson On TV

With these positive health signs, the rescue center began a campaign to find Emerson a home to call his own. They even put his little face on TV to try and draw some compassionate individuals into adopting him. They were open about his difficulties.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

The volunteers took Emerson to a local Maine TV studio, where they told his heartbreaking story on the TV5 Morning Show. They explained how he had a difficult few weeks of life—seizures, hospitalization, deafness, and visual impairments—and that he desperately needed a home.

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Despite His Troubles, Emerson Was A Good Boy

Apparently, the volunteers only noticed that he had hearing and seeing difficulties after he returned from the vet in Florida. Poor Emerson was doing his best to get by, but in the time when he was healthy enough, he was just a regular dog.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

Although Emerson had so many troubles in his first few weeks of life, it didn’t stop him from being a regular puppy, having fun, and being a good boy. His deafness and visual impairments confused him, but he still wanted to play and love those around him.

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He Loved To Play And Go On Car Rides

His deafness could have been something that Emerson was born with, or it could have been the result of his seizures. It was hard for the vets to say. His visual impairment seemed like an on-and-off problem—the volunteers could tell he wasn’t blind. 

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

His lack of hearing didn’t bother him—he obviously loved to play. He had fun with kids from his foster family. He got excited whenever it was time to get in the car for a drive to the mall to pick up supplies.

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Can Anyone Take This Loving Pup?

His experiences were shared as pictures on the rescue center’s Facebook page. The rescue center even set up a little diary told from Emerson’s point of view to try and win people over and get them to look past all of his special requirements. Above all, Emerson needed love.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

At 12 weeks old, there were still no takers. On his Facebook page, “Emerson” wrote, “My Foster mom thinks [nobody wants me] because people I’m deaf, but she wants everyone to know that being deaf is the LEAST of my worries!”

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His Foster Parents Put Out A Call For Help

Everyone who knew Emerson couldn’t understand why nobody would take him. In one of “Emerson’s” posts, he said, “my mom pictures me with someone that loves to be outside, camping, and going on adventures!” With the post were some adorable pictures of Emerson frolicking at home and out in the woods.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

“I do well on a leash and respond to vibrations if you need my attention,” he added. Everyone was trying their best to house him. As time went on, there seemed to be less hope to hold onto. 

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He Was Becoming A Well-Known Puppy

While Emerson was one house short of a family, he wasn’t lacking in attention. His story was seen and heard far and wide. He had plenty of people calling in and asking about him, but so few of them seemed to be willing or able to take him on full-time. 

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

So many people have good intentions, but not everyone is in the position to help a special dog with Emerson’s requirements. The rescue center even commented that he was becoming a “one-name celebrity” in Maine. 

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Love Finally Came Around To Emerson

After so much time waiting and yearning for a permanent family, Emerson’s moment had come. A man named Nick Abbott got in touch with the center, asking about him. In a way, Nick was uniquely disposed to understand Emerson compared to any other owners. 

Source: nickandemerson/Instagram

Nick told them up front that he was deaf, and he thought that might give them a good connection. The center spared no time in getting the two in touch with one another. Emerson’s foster parents knew they had found the one for him.

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They Were Made For Each Other

Nick caught wind of Emerson’s story from one of the pup’s posts on Facebook. Nick, too, was born deaf. He thought he should go visit him to see “what he was all about,” he said later to WABI-TV, a CBS affiliate. Of course, it turned out to be a great match. 

Source: Lindsay Powers/Facebook

Emerson found someone who could also understand him and his specific needs. After so long on the ropes, Emerson needed love from someone who could really bond with him—and he got that in Nick.

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Emerson Knew Nick Was The One!

A few days after Nick had sent his inquiry, Emerson arrived at his home to “sniff out” this new guy. The two began showing instant chemistry. Emerson loved this new house and the nice man that lived there, and, of course, Nick was smitten. 

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

“You can tell he kind of picked me,” Nick said. “He came straight to me at the door and sat right away at my feet and stayed there.” Now that Emerson finally had an owner, he had a lot of catching up to do.

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They Knew It Was Love

Emerson had always been a friendly pup, but seeing him just walk up to someone and sit with them was unprecedented. Nick knew that they would be a special pair from then on. Nick told WABI-TV,  “I knew then and there that we would get along and understand each other.”

Source: nickandemerson/Instagram

Emerson had to catch up on a lot of things—cuddling, playing, sniffing around every corner of the house. Now he is the happiest pup around. Pretty soon, Nick had to housetrain him. It would be a little different, however. 

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Using Sign Language To Teach Him Tricks

Every pup needs training, and Emerson is no different. Nick had to go about teaching him some sign language to help him learn basic commands and tricks. Being so young, it was the perfect age to get started. Nick got started soon after Emerson had settled into his new environment.

Source: NFR Maine/Facebook

Though he was mostly deaf, Nick said that he could respond to pitches and tones, but sign language worked more effectively to communicate or give commands. Emerson got to work trying to figure out what his owner was telling him!

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Emerson Picked Up Two New Tricks!

With a little patience and unconditional love, Nick taught Emerson some tricks. Now Emerson will sit or lie down when commanded via sign. To get him to sit, Nick signs the letter “S.” To get him to lie on the floor, Nick signs an “L.”

Source: nickandemerson/Instagram

It took a lot of practice at first, but now Emerson is a natural. When WABI-TV interviewed the pair, Emerson was sitting and lying down on command for Nick just like a pro. Emerson had been working extra hard, thanks to Nick.

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Emerson Finally Had A Home Of His Own

It’s not often that an abandoned pup like Emerson gets a second chance with a loving owner. It’s nice that we get to see a “happily ever after” for ourselves this time. Emerson just so happened to find the perfect family to take care of him. 

Source: nickandemerson/Instagram

After such a struggle, he now has a long, happy life to look forward to. The two appeared in many TV interviews since, including on Good Morning America. “We understand each other,” he said. “I’d like to think it was meant to be.” 

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