We finally have a diagnosis for our puppy, Patch. For those of you who don’t know about Patch. He was from the very first litter of puppies we fostered. He started getting shaking after only a two or three weeks. We knew that he would be hard to place, so we kept him. He has two sisters who also are wobbly.For most of his life we thought that he had Shaking Puppy Syndrome. He looks like someone with Parkinson’s Disease. He is unsteady on his feet, his head is constantly bobbing, which can make eating and drinking a challenge. He gets “floppy” when he gets excited. When he runs, he runs on his tiptoes. Let me tell you that is NOT poetry in motion. Patch is very unsteady and wobbly on his feet, yet he will run, run, run and then his back legs will go out. All he can do is lay on his side and move his front paw up and down. With Shaking Puppy, puppies will outgrow it between 6 months to a year. Patch is almost 7 months, so we watched him for any signs of changes. Praying every night that he will outgrow it. He will be a “normal” dog. He won’t be frustrated that he can’t chase his big sister, Katie. That he won’t have days that he can’t get up to walk outside and he piddles on himself.
My friend, Michele, called me this week. She had recently taken her dog, Tucker, to the vet for a check up. While she was there she told her vet about her friend’s puppy. Telling him about the Shaking Puppy Syndrome and our concerns. (She has a great vet who spends a ton of time with her.) When she described his symptoms, her vet told her that wasn’t Shaking Puppy. He has seen that in dogs before. What she was describing was a whole different type of thing. He suggested it could be Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Its a disorder that occurs when the dogs cerebellum doesn’t fully develop. It can be caused if his Mom was sick when she was pregnant, if she ate something bad she shouldn’t have and so on. There is no treatment for it.
When she told us that, we immediately flew to the internet to research this. Reading all the articles that described Patch to a T! It was as if the writers of those articles followed our puppy around. We also watched YouTube videos of dogs with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Other than the color or maybe size it was like watching Patch. These dogs in the videos were all heart. Trying to run and stumbling or falling. The videos made us laugh and they made us cry. We felt as if we finally had an answer as to what Patch’s issues were. There were other dogs just like him and they seemed just as happy as he is.
A few people asked us how we felt, finally having a better idea of what was wrong with Patch. We both had to think about it for a bit. How did we feel? We now know that, for the most part, this is the best its going to get for him. There is no 11th hour change that is going to happen. We both felt relief. After six months of praying, fretting, looking for any change, wondering if he was getting worse and would we would have to put him down, it’s now done. We know this is as good as it gets for Patch. That he can run and chase Katie, yet he is going to fall down. That he is going to need to be carried sometimes. That people will stare at him because he walks so oddly. We are ok with that. The best part is knowing that this is as good as it gets. We can stop looking at him and worrying that he is going to get worse. We can start looking forward, instead of “waiting” to see if he gets better. We have received notes from folks wanting to help fund whatever type of device he may need. We need to wait until Patch is fully-grown to invest in equipment. We even talked to The Dog Spot about him going to daycare! The gals who own the daycare are more than willing to have him attend. They are aware of his challenges, but still want him to be able to play as well. We even have a game plan of how his first day should go! We will be taking him during Christmas Vacation for a short visit. Daycare was something we were putting off, “until he gets better”
In a way, this was our Christmas Miracle. It’s not the way we had hoped Patch’s story would turn out. It’s not the miraculous outcome we had hoped for. He will never look like a “normal” dog to other people. We will have to do more planning when we take him places, planning extra time in case he gets floppy when out and about. However, he is our puppy and we love him. He is a very loving boy. Rushing up to try to snuggle with Mr. Bernie. Trying to crawl into my lap when I’m on the floor next to him. He is smart as a whip. He makes us laugh and on some days, cry. What more can one ask of their puppy? Nothing. He may not be perfect, but he’s perfect for our family, and that is all that matters.
*If you stumbled on my blog because your puppy/dog has Cerebellar hypoplasia, feel free to drop me a note. I would love to hear from you!