Presenting Lady Wobbly Hannah
Wobbly Hannah is taking over Instagram as a spokesperson for living with Cerebellar Hypoplasia.
Living with Cerebellar Hypoplasia
by Robert Hudson
Wobbly Hannah is an adorable dog who was born with a condition known as Cerebellar Hypoplasia. This condition was made famous on social media by another dog Stevie the Wonder dog who we featured last summer.
Cerebellar Hypoplasia, (CH) is typically a hereditary disease in dogs, but is also found in cats. Kittens can acquire this disease in utero.
The severity of the symptoms may vary, but it is not progressive. Some may benefit from using a wheelchair.
Typically Cerebellar Hypoplasia is not degenerative, meaning that the severity of the symptoms shown by your dog are unlikely to become more severe. If your dog is diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia but retains enough coordination and control over their movements to perform basic functions, they can go on to live a good quality of life.
“We adopted Hannah in November 2019 from Albert’s Dog Lounge in Wisconsin. She was found on the streets of Texas as a puppy and spent her first 3 years in shelter and foster care. On her third birthday, we applied to adopt her after randomly seeing a post online of her through the rescue. They were begging people to share Hannah and even offering a raffle for sharing her story to try and get her adopted. We were very aware of her neurological condition when we adopted her and were prepared to give her whatever she needed as her overdue forever family.”
Cassidy Drueppel went on to explain:
“We actually did not adopt her right when we saw the rescue post- we shared her and shared her with as many people as possible to try and help her find a home as we were not intending on adding to our fur-family at that time. After almost a month and no applications, our hearts could not handle it any longer. We applied to adopt her and have never looked back since. “
Jumping right in to Cerebellar Hypoplasia
Cassidy and her family were not experts on the disorder. “The only “experience” I had about this condition was through following other dogs like her on social media. Josh the Doodle was the main reason we adopted Hannah. We became aware of these dogs and how amazing they are, yet how many of them never get a chance at life with a family simply because of their condition.
The main prerequisite to adopting a dog with special needs is an openness and willingness to provide whatever supports they need to be happy and healthy. You learn as you go with these dogs based on their individual needs and having Hannah has opened our eyes so much to the world of disabled dogs and how much more they need advocates to give them a chance. “
What challenges did you face in the beginning of your relationship and how did you resolve them?
The challenges are what make it even more rewarding. Even if you took an entire group of dogs with the same condition as Hannah, all of them would have different individual challenges and needs. The main ones for Hannah are typically related to mobility supports- just trying to find the right supports and supports that are durable enough to support her over time.
We end up replacing and fixing many things that Hannah uses due to wear, tear, and extreme wobbles. We do this happily. However, we continue to strive and seek out better supports that can help her and more dogs like her. We do not see Hannah as challenging herself. We see the world around her as challenging and that is what we focus on. Ensuring she is set up for success, she is able to just live and be a happy, healthy dog like any other.
Cerebellar Hypoplasia- How does she get around in the house?
Around the house she moves similar to a child that has not learned to walk yet- she lunges, scoots, and crawls to her destinations. She does not do stairs and is carried up and down, as well as outside. Hannah only prefers to use her cart on adventures outside in short durations. She only wants walking assistance while outdoors. Hannah is very stubborn, but also communicates her desires and needs very well with us.
Are there symptoms other than loss of muscle control?
She has vision limitations and intention tremors. She also struggles with temperature regulation.
Cassidy hooked up with an organization that provides support and financial assistance. They are amazingly helpful.
How did you get hooked up with Wild Hearts?
We got connected with Wild Hearts through Instagram. They were running one of their annual fundraisers for carts for dogs, and we connected that way. Initially, we partnered to just help support and get the word out about WH, but then eventually we did become a Sponsored pet family as we teamed up with them and Dive Design to work on building a 3D printed custom cart for Hannah.
What was their initial advice?
There was no advice, it is more of a team approach working with Wild Hearts as they have supports but also know that each family knows their dog best and how to help. It is great to have a team of people that truly care and that you can bounce ideas off of.
Do they supply education and support services? How did that help you?
They help with Hannah’s therapy costs (acupuncture and swimming) as well as helped fund the 3d printed cart that is a work-in-progress. We also became a Spokespet for Wild Hearts which means we help with ongoing education to others. We help run a monthly CH Support group on the second Wednesday of every month through Wild Hearts as well (we co-host that with Stevie’s mom).
Is it an ongoing relationship?
Absolutely. We work as a team and want to help as many pets as possible, not just Hannah.
How did you and they determine a wheelchair would be helpful?
Hannah came with a wheelchair when we adopted her, however, she had never learned to use it. We started that process when we adopted her and before Wild Hearts came along. Through that process, we found that Hannah would benefit from a more durable cart as we were constantly fixing and/or replacing the cart or pieces. It was not until later that we were offered the opportunity to help design and test a 3D printed quad cart and that is where we officially teamed up with WH in 2021 as a sponsored pet family.
How does she use the wheelchair? When, under what circumstances?
Wobbly Hannah only uses her wheelchair outside on “adventures” each day. She does not use it in the home or outside in the yard. She prefers to get around her own ways in those situations even if it looks “different” and the wheelchair is for outside in increments. The amount of time she is in it can vary significantly depending on the day, weather, her mood, the terrain, etc.
Is it custom made? Who makes it?
The one she currently uses is custom made by Eddie’s Wheels. Wobbly Hannah has used a Walkin Pets one in the past and we worked with another custom cart company as well as still with Dive Design/3DPets to try and create a 3D custom one. We have been working on a cart for Hannah in some capacity for over 2.5 years now.
Did she take to it right away, or did she need to be trained to be comfortable in it?
It definitely took some time for her to get used to it and trust it. She needs to trust that the cart will support her successfully. It also is partially our responsibility as we have to ensure that the cart is in constant working-condition for her despite things breaking or being compromised due to the extreme pressure she puts on them. She is 65 lbs, has a large chest, and the cart has to support extreme wobbles and pressure as it essentially “catches” her from falling with each step. Hannah communicates very well with us. She tests things, but also lets us know when something is off and helps us work through it.
How much of a difference has it made in her demeanor, how she interacts with people or animals? Did it give her more confidence? Was she ever shy or fearful?
Hannah is rather fearful of other animals and has been attacked in the past. She takes her time with slow introductions to get used to other dogs. Hannah can be very reactive initially as her lack of mobility makes her vulnerable. The cart has provided her more freedom of movement for her to adventure with her best friend/brother (Coda), but also helps keep her physically healthy. Her legs moving in the cart will help her long term health as we also do stretches, swimming, and acupuncture to combat any long term mobility issues that may come.
Can any dog owner care for a dog with this condition, or does it require a special kind of person?
Yes. If they are fully committed to providing whatever the dog needs. Hannah requires us to think and do things differently for her, and we have rearranged many things to accommodate her needs. We wouldn’t have it any other way because of the love and joy she expresses. Owners should know that it will require extra time, resources, and outside the box thinking to care for them, but it is possible and it is worth it.
A Budding Romance For Wobbly Hannah
Wobbly Hannah and Cassie have become great friends with Stevie the Wonder dog.
‘We connected with Stevie through Instagram. The IG community for special needs/disabled pets is absolutely amazing. Everyone is supportive and offers suggestions as needed. We all bounce ideas off each other and share successes, struggles, and everything in between.”
What do you think of Stevie calling Wobbly Hannah his girlfriend? Do you approve?
200% APPROVED relationship. Stevie is a gem and so is his mom!
Does she feel the same way?
She definitely loves Stevie and his infamous puddle playing and shoulder taps!
Is romance in the air for Wobbly Hannah?
It’s a match made in wobbly Heaven!
Stay tuned for our interview with Wild Hearts.