A Christmas Miracle

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!



  1. Hi, my 10 mo old collie mix has cerebellar hypoplasia. She walks or rather prances, even gies up and down stairs. She’s frightened of things on the street. It’s very hard to control her on the leash. What kind of leash or harness do you recommend? Thank you.

  2. Hi…my dobe pup has this i think, but she shows some improvement…slowing down with improvement now…but just want her to be able to poo without falling over midpoo or falling in it. She was premature when she was born….half the size of her bros and sisters. Delayed bout3 weeks for everything…had to syringe feed her and bottle feed her…now she eats well on her own but will fall in her water sometimes..we have a stand for food and water that helps. She should b atleast 60lbs. So getting the balance to poop is qyite important…praying she will continue to progress….but im sure it wont bbe totally gone. Thanks for sharing ur story…i too have looked at youtube videos and see functionally ch pups..:) :)

  3. I don’t know how I missed this post the other day. Dadgum you for making me get all weepy. You and Roy are good people… that’s why you’re so deserving of such super cool dogs!

  4. What a great post, and I’m glad you finally have some “closure” on the waiting and you can love him and accept him for what he is.

  5. Patch is so lucky to have found the perfect home with you & Mr. Bernie! I love that another Patch (my dear deceased last dog was Patch too) will be loved beyond belief & have a great life!

  6. You are incredibly special people who are loved by an incredibly special dog. Sometimes the “not knowing” can be the hardest part…now that you do know the answer to Patch’s special needs, you can all move forward. I think Patch is lucky to have you…and of course, vice versa :)

  7. I am so glad you know now too and can focus on just what Patch needs now instead of all the worrying about what will happen later. Roy had the perfect word, it was serendipitous that I found out what was up with dear Mr. Patch. I am so glad you kept him, I think he found the perfect forever home with you two! :)

  8. I read that it can be hereditary, too….so glad you have an answer! Patch has a great family.

  9. I am so glad that you have a proper name for what Patch has now—that has to help the whole process to know what to expect and what not to expect. From all you have said he seems to be a totally happy doggy and even with his limitations he is living his life fully thanks to you and Mr. Bernie. What a gift you have given him to have him be a part of your family—others would have given up on him but you were the right match for sweet Patch. Hey–I am a poet!!! Hugs and puppy pats to Patch and Katie!!


  1. [...] 10 months old, so I get to start blogging too. Oh, joy! If you don’t know who I am, then read what my Momma wrote about me and come on back. I’ll wait. I’m good at that. The pink on my nose is from tumbling down the stairs. I [...]

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