Last month, people around the world became absolutely smitten with Jeffrey and Jermaine, two young Pit Bull–Labrador Retriever mix brothers rescued as strays in West Philadelphia. Jeffrey is blind; Jermaine is Jeffrey’s loyal companion, his comfort, and his Seeing Eye dog.
After the pups were taken in by Philadelphia no-kill animal rescue group Operation Ava, rescuers snapped a priceless photo of Jeffrey and Jermaine snuggling in a dog bed, inseparable even in their sleep. That photo instantly went viral, making the bonded brothers two of the most popular pups on the web.
Operation Ava director Ray Little knew from the start Jeffrey and his guide dog brother were two very special dogs.
“I’d never seen two dogs that young who were so bonded,” Little tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve seen older dogs who have known each other for years and years be that way. But puppies don’t usually have that kind of loyalty yet. They’re too busy wanting to explore.”
Jeffrey and Jermaine do explore, but always by one another’s side, maintaining almost constant contact with each other.
Hundreds of families across the United States and around the world vied for the chance to adopt Jeffrey and Jermaine, and Operation Ava had the difficult task of finding the perfect one.
Eventually, the brothers found their forever home with married couple Jonathan Hochman and Veronica McKee, who live in nearby Delaware County, Pennsylvania. McKee says she and her husband, who had been hoping to adopt a pair of male puppies, came across Jeffrey and Jermaine’s information by chance. They initially had no clue they’d put in an application to adopt two Internet stars.
When they got the news that they were chosen to be the boys’ forever family, McKee and Hochman got to work preparing their home, making sure not only to eliminate things the pups could get into but also paying special attention to things Jeffrey might hurt himself on while learning to navigate his new home.
“We didn’t just have to puppy proof, we had to blind puppy proof,” McKee explains.
Jeffrey and Jermaine finally joined their new family on November 25.
Nearly one month later, Housman and McKee say Jeffrey and Jermaine are doing great, and their bond is as close as ever.
“When they walk, even on separate leashes, they are always bumping into each other to check that the other one is there,” McKee says. “If Jermaine is off leash, he will run around and come back to check in with Jeffrey to make sure he’s OK. If they’re both off leash, they stay very close and Jermaine kind of herds Jeffrey around.
Jeffrey and Jermaine are starting to feel more and more confident as they slowly learn more about their home and environment, McKee explains. And though Jeffrey is blind, with Jermaine’s guidance, he’s able to have fun playing every dog’s favorite game: fetch.
“If Jeffrey can’t find the ball we are fetching, Jermaine will put his nose on it until Jeffrey gets the scent again,” she writes on the pups’ Facebook page.
McKee says adopting Jeffrey and Jermaine has taught she and her husband a valuable lesson.
“We’ve learned the power of simplicity, from paring things back to ensure their safety. You really don’t need much to be comfortable,” she says. “A roof overhead, some food, a warm blanket, and family is really all you need.
If you’d like to continue following Jeffrey and Jermaine’s amazing story, visit their Facebook page, Brotherly Love Pups, today.