Just when you thought the Puppy Bowl couldn't get any cuter, the folks at Animal Planet have found a whole new way to melt your heart.

This season the adorable annual event will feature puppies with special needs from across the country. And two of the competing pups are from right here in New England.

As they do every year, Animal Planet holds a Puppy Bowl during halftime of the Super Bowl. Basically, they fill a mini football field with puppies and people watch them play.

So if Rihanna isn't who you want to watch on Feb. 12, you can flip the channel to pure cuteness instead.

Try not to want every puppy on the field for your own, however, because this season's batch of competitors is just begging for extra cuddles. Among the 122 puppy players this year are 11 rescue puppies with special needs, including Joey from Foster, Rhode Island.

Puppy Bowl via Facebook
Puppy Bowl via Facebook

Joey is a rat terrier who was born in Connecticut, but adopted out of the Vintage Pet Rescue in Foster. According to Alex Petrarca of Vintage Pet Rescue, Joey was born last Christmas with no front legs and his owners didn't know what to do for his special needs.

After his siblings were all adopted, the family reached out to the Connecticut Humane Society which got in touch with Vintage Pet Rescue. Though they are typically a senior dog rescue outfit, Petrarca says "we do make a few exceptions a year for younger dogs who are either paralyzed or missing limbs, etc."

That was Joey's case. Born with no front legs, Joey was fitted with a special wheelchair to help him get around and spent most of his first year at Vintage Pet Rescue. Happily, Petrarca reports:

"Joey was adopted over the summer. He lives with an amazing family with experience caring for special needs dogs and he has a few new brothers and sisters to play with."

He'll also have plenty of other puppies to play with on Feb. 12 when Puppy Bowl XIX airs on Animal Planet at 2 p.m.

Though the Vintage Pet Rescue won't hold a viewing party for the event, they will be cheering on Joey from Foster.

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