The Little Dog Who Dances
The Little Dog Who Dances His Way to Your Heart is about a little dog with Cerebellar Hypoplasia
by Robert Hudson
Little over four years ago on a blistering 100 degree summer day in California, a tiny little dog weighing only twelve ounces was found abandoned in a box in a parking lot. He was brought to a shelter where Alicia worked. She was immediately drawn to the little guy. “I have always been drawn to the animals who needed a little extra TLC. I call them unicorns. ” She decided immediately she needed to give this fighter a home.
“Upon his arrival, it was obvious he had some sort of neurological issue, but I was not familiar with Cerebellar Hypoplasia at that time, so I knew he would need to see a specialist. At the time of his intake to the shelter, he was about 7 weeks old and only weighed 12 ounces. Today at 5 years old he weighs 2.2. pounds. Still a tiny, but mighty little guy!”, Alicia told me.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological condition in which parts of the cerebellum (the largest part of the brain) have not completely developed. It happens to both dogs and cats and may be the result of genetics, infection, malnutrition, poisoning, or injury in utero.
The Little Dog Who Dances
Alicia named this little cutie Little Boogie Shoes. “I named him Little Boogie Shoes because he’s always wobbling (due to the Cerebellar hypoplasia) so it looks like he’s always dancing ”
Symptoms of Cerebellar hypoplasia include wobbly or flaying legs while walking. It may range from mild to severe.
“Cerebellar hypoplasia is not life-threatening, so yes, Boogie lives a normal life. We do make adjustments and accommodations for him due to his disability and size, but he eats, plays, snuggles, and does all the dog things. Adjustments we have made include: Keeping him on soft surfaces likes rugs, carpeted areas, grass; Using a wheelchair for walking and stability when needed; Using a stroller for him instead of expecting him to walk on a leash.”
When I asked Alicia what was the biggest challenge for the little dog who dances is, she replied, “His biggest challenge is his back legs. He’s had two hip surgeries that left him with weakness, and he has luxating patella. So those two issues plus the wobbly walks and falls caused by the Cerebellar hypoplasia are a big risk for further injury. His other big challenge is thinking he is a big dog.”
Alicia wanted to show the world why these dogs should be welcome in any pet loving home and decided one way to do this was to introduce children in the classroom to the love these dogs offer. “I reached out to a local summer camp and expressed my interest in participating in their humane education program.” From there it led to going to schools.
“The goal in the classroom is to model kindness to animals, teach empathy, compassion, and resilience. The students LOVE meeting Boogie, they can’t believe how small he is, and they love watching him walk to them for treats. Once they hear his story, they have a lot of questions for me about what he likes, how I take care of him, and eventually, that leads us to one of the most important messages which are to choose pet adoption, that being different is what makes you special, and that we are all resilient no matter what the challenge.”
Little Boogie Shoes has become a super hero. He inspires children and adults to see the love and joy expressed in all living things regardless of their disabilities.
The Boogie Family
Boogie does not have local playmates, but has a big family pack to keep him busy!
“We have 4 other rescue dogs, all Chihuahuas, three of who have unique needs as well.
- Bruno (16ish years old) was a behavior case. He was considered unadoptable when he met him, but that made us love him even more.
- Pina (9ish years old) who has a heart murmur, and back issues and on medication.
- Sesame (8 years old) who is the doggiest dog I’ve met.
- Bust A. Moves (1-year-old) who has Cerebellar Hypoplasia and Hydrocephalus, he can’t walk or stand on his own, so he uses a wheelchair for support.”
“Boogie is hilarious, he makes the funniest faces when he’s in play mode or if he wants something. His favorite toy is anything that squeaks. Right now, it’s a squeaky donut, but that could change any day now. He loves to walk around our yard, sit on a blanket in the sun, and road tripping. He has a little bag we carry him in and if he sees it, he starts yipping until we put him in it. Car rides, shopping trips, anything with his humans, Boogie loves to do. Boogie does wear clothes a lot, but at 2.2 pounds it a bit of a necessity because he gets cold easily.”
What would you like your fans to know about dogs with Cerebellar Hypoplasia?
“Boogie’s fans know him well because we are open on social media. I think overall, the takeaway we’d like people to leave with in their hearts is that all animals deserve a chance. Supporting pets with special needs can be a lot of work, but it is worth it to see them happy and thriving. It will be life-changing for both of you.”