The person who dropped Boogie off at the animal shelter said they found him in the Wal-Mart parking lot..it was a scorching 102 degrees in Palm Springs that day. Upon intake, Boogie weighed 12 ounces, was severely dehydrated and had obvious neurological problems. It was hard to imagine him on his own in any capacity much less a 102 degree parking lot. The medical staff gave him fluids, did an initial exam and tucked him away in the adoption office for peace, quiet and observation. I happened to be working at the shelter that day, and when I saw him, I just melted. I also said a little prayer that he would make it because I'd seen so many animals in his condition and worse come in and not pull through. I took him home to foster him, and we named him Boogie Shoes because despite his disability, he was proving to be one tiny and determined guy! His little "boogie" was not holding him back.
Shortly after bringing him home, we took him to the Veterinary Neurological Center in Palm Desert, CA. Dr. Hanson examined him and diagnosed him with cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition in which parts of the cerebellum (the largest part of the brain) have not completely developed. There are many causes that can lead to this condition including genetics, infection, malnutrition, poisoning or injury in utero. Symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia can be from mild to severe and include: head bobbing, tremors, clumsiness, wide stance, falling and flipping over. Symptoms typically become visible in puppies when they begin to stand and walk, around six weeks of age.Dr. Hanson told us that cerebellar hypoplasia will last a life time but is not considered life threatening, and that the tremors and uncoordinated movements would be something Boogie would learn to compensate for and ultimately live a pretty normal life. That was good news for us to hear, and he was right.
Boogie is a resilient little guy, weighing just 2.2 pounds, and can do almost everything his Chihuahua siblings can do. Like a true Chihuahua, he loves to burrow under blankets and lounge in the sunshine. He also loves to play with his brother Sesame and plop himself into a pile of toys for a good chew fest. The tile floors are not his favorite terrain, but he sure can run on carpeting and grass! And, because of him, we've added a few more rugs here and there to make his journey around the house a little easier. Meal time is challenging because of his head bobbing (and eyes too big for his stomach), so we make sure his meals are easy to access and in portions that won't make him choke and we always supervise him the whole time. Boogie is too small to jump on and off furniture, but he does spend time snuggling with us on the couch, just never unattended. As the tiniest member of our family, we have all learned to look around and check under blankets before we stand up or sit down. Including our other dogs who sniff around the dog beds to see where Boogie is before they decide where to nest.
Adopting Boogie Shoes into our family has been a true blessing, and we hope that Boogie will inspire you to not only adopt a pet, but consider a special needs pet. Millions of homeless pets end up in shelters each year, many are euthanized for space or because they have conditions like Boogie that deem them "unhealthy" and "untreatable". If you cannot adopt, become a foster, volunteer for your local shelter or rescue, or make a donation to a reputable animal welfare organization and help save lives.