How did the first time Tony meet Meatball?
Nothing ever easy to love the imperfection, in fact, nothing in this world is perfect. Meatball the dog is only one of the dogs who were born with a difference in his body. The doctor calls it Cerebellar Hypoplasia, but Tony Hayden calls it the cure. He used to have a dachshund in his heart, a dog who had been stayed by his side for 21 years, passed away just days before Christmas in 2014. Then he searched for another dog to take care of, not so long for his search he got contacted from a breeder telling him about this little puppy.
Hayden, had flown to Knoxville, Tenn. from his home in Orlando, Fla. expecting to pick up a healthy seven-week-old puppy from a breeder he’d connected with online. Instead, he arrived to find a dog that seemed to be neglected and near death.
“He looked like a tiny baby squirrel,” Hayden said. When they handed him the quivering puppy, “I kind of started crying,” he said.
Hayden didn’t know what was wrong, but he knew he needed to get the dog away from there. The breeder considers it as a defective puppy but Tony still could have him, only this puppy needs and extra attention and treatment. Meatball the dog was so small, light, cute and tiny when tony saved his life, about 1.5 pounds. Tony could not hold back his tears, seeing the eyes of tiny Meatball.
What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?
Ever since hope and positivity always be poured by Tony to Meatball the dog. This 55 years old guy never stops learning Meatball’s condition. Cerebellar Hypoplasia threw the dogs with inadequate development of the cerebellum - part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. It was a scene Hayden never imagined on the day he met Meatball almost four years ago and committed to taking care of the tiny, malnourished dog that could barely walk and suffered from cerebellar hypoplasia, the canine version of cerebral palsy. This makes Meatball’s way of walking kind of different, it makes him put more struggle and effort.
How did you take care of Meatball condition?
Mr. Hayde took him to physical therapy for 4 - 6 months, he had him twice a week acupuncture schedule to stimulate blood flow. Meatball’s spirit and Tony’s patience brought them flowers, by the time he was 8 months, he can walk normally with only a slight limp.
Now, 5 years after they are staying together, Meatball has been living his life to the fullest, thanks to Mr. Hayden who’s making him, always bringing him everywhere and showing the world that being different is nothing more than just a blessing.
Along the way, Meatball is proving that even the smallest dogs, when given hope, really know how to run with it.
How did @herecomesmeatball become an internet sensation?
And thus began Meatball’s road to fame. Hayden gave Meatball physical therapy at home.
“I would tie cookies to a mop,” Hayden said.
“I just had to find what he wanted to chase.”
Within months, Meatball learned to walk. Then he learned to run. Meanwhile, Hayden was documenting Meatball’s progress on Instagram, and people loved him.
“It was like a slot machine,” Hayden said, referring to his phone lighting up with notifications.
“I couldn’t read the notification before the next one popped up. I had never seen when something goes viral.”
Meatball is now an internet superstar. He went to a PetCon in 2018. Meatball was shaking, the eight-pound piebald dachshund with big brown eyes was surrounded by hundreds of people as he entered the Javits Center on Saturday. They had just checked in at PetCon, an extravaganza where fans can meet the celebrity dogs they follow on social media.
Now, four years later, Meatball’s disability is no longer immediately obvious. He has a slightly awkward gait, but otherwise can walk, run and play like any dog. His journey has made him famous. Meatball has over 160,000 followers on his Instagram account, @herecomesmeatball and an official merchandise store at vardise.com.