There's a happy ending to what began as a sad dog tale. A four-month-old Labrador Retriever, caught on a popular YouTube video refusing to leave his dead mother's side, is in his new forever home now. Prince, as he has come to be known, is now part of a Bakersfield family.
We caught up with Joe Peterson out on a jog with Prince. "Nice. Good baby," he told Prince.
This is the life, puppy Prince, has to look forward to, filled with encouraging words and lots of activity with his new owner, who is the gym owner and trainer at Building Better Bodies in downtown Bakersfield.
"I kind of got to a point where I was looking for a dog and I train Katy and Courtney," said Peterson.
Katy Hutson and Courtney Cleric are local animal rescue volunteers. They just happened to be the ones who found Prince last month and made a video of him that has since gone viral on YouTube. Refusing to leave his dead mother's side for days after she was hit on Highway 58 near Comanche, Prince was skinny, hot, and scared. After hours of trying, they caught him. Their video has been seen by thousands around the world. But, Joe Peterson wasn't one of those people. He had no idea of Prince's story when Katy and Courtney invited him over to meet the little Lab.
"So I said you know what why don't I come over," said Joe remembering that day. "So I went over to visit him and just absolutely fell in love with him. He's gentle, he's loving. He's just a sweetheart."
"What was really cool was that he didn't even know," explained Courtney about Joe meeting Prince. "He's so busy that he didn't see the news, he didn't see the viral video. He just knew that a dog needed a home and that's incredible. We didn't want Prince to be adopted just because of the hype about the video."
Joe says that video and painful past is behind Prince now. And, the future is filled with Joe's daughter stealing many wet nose kisses.
"My daughter adores him," said Joe. "She crawled in the crate with him and they slept together."
It's a new life, a new bond. Prince wagged his way into their hearts, and Joe is happy to make some permanent space to accommodate.
"You know, I've been kind of been needing a forever friend and it just, everything just seemed like it was meant to be," said Joe, smiling.
Joe says Prince will be at the gym with him during his classes and will become the mascot. His goal is for Prince to be the face for fitness for canines. And, he'll keep Prince's name. Joe joked he didn't want him to become the dog formerly known as Prince.