Adorable dog who can't walk properly due to rare medical condition becomes viral sensation thanks to his love of puddles
An adorable dog who was born with a rare medical condition meaning he can't walk properly has become a viral sensation – and it's all thanks to his love of puddles.
Six-year-old Labrador retriever Stevie lives with his owner, Jane Cornelius, 45, in Indiana, US.
Stevie was born with cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition in which the cerebellum is smaller than usual or not completely developed.
As a result, the pup has difficulty with coordination and balance, and walks with a high step in the front, as well as wobbles.
Sometimes his back legs don't cooperate and hop up and down instead of helping him move forward, especially when he's excited.
However, Stevie's condition – and undeniable cuteness – has attracted fans from all over the world and made the dog an Instagram sensation.
The Labrador retriever has over 190,000 followers on Instagram (@stevie_the_wonderdog), where his owner regularly shares photos and videos of him living his best life.
The pup was catapulted into the spotlight thanks to one particular video showing him enjoying a splash in some puddles in his backyard.
It has received over 80,000 views so far and hundreds of comments from Instagram users.
"I adopted Stevie in April 2018 from a local rescue," Jane said.
"His condition makes things like going up or down the stairs and running very challenging.
"However, other typical activities like walking and playing just require a little bit of adapting and Stevie finding his way of doing them.
"He gets tired pretty easily because of the amount of energy needed."
Despite his condition, Stevie has adapted to life well and eats, drinks and plays just like other dogs.
Jane, who works in special education, said: "Stevie is a total goofball, sweet and loving.
"But he can also give the occasional side-eye or look seriously annoyed when I've given him 100 kisses.
"He gets super excited when people come over to visit, is playful with his toys and chills in the evenings.
"He climbs up and down off the couch just like any other dog, even if he has to do some of it a little slower or a little differently.
"His disability doesn't stop him from being a dog and enjoying all the smells, sights, and puddles life has to offer him."
To help him walk easier, Stevie gets regular massages to loosen his tight muscles.
Jane will also be trying out a new device on the dog called the ProSix to work on his stability and proprioceptive awareness.
The device is made of knitted and ventilated elastic and helps to build strength through isometric and concentric exercise, produced by the dog's movement with the gentle resistance of the elastic.
Jane said: "Other than that, just walking around the yard and doing everyday activities helps him problem-solve and get the exercise he needs.
"I would also like to try him swimming this summer."
Jane launched Stevie's Instagram account to show people that the pup – who has previously been rehomed a few times – is now living his best life, despite his disability.
And his love of puddles has captured countless hearts.
Jane said: "Then when Covid happened and we were all sort of on lockdown, that's when Stevie's puddle dancing video went viral.
"I think because it was a moment of just pure joy, it really landed with all of us who just needed a moment to pause from the chaos of the world and enjoy this happy dog splashing in a puddle.
"I got so many positive comments and messages of gratitude, from ER nurses to teachers sharing with their students, that I was so grateful Stevie could provide so much joy and comfort we just had to keep sharing!"
Instagram users flocked to comment on Stevie's adorable and heartwarming puddle video, which shows him having the time of his life as he splashes around.
One person wrote: "Stevie is so adorable!! I LOVE watching him. He's so happy and makes me smile and giggle and root for him!! Such a joy."
Another added: "That has got to be the happiest pup ever!"
"Cutest happy dance ever!" another Instagram user wrote.
"This is the most adorable thing ever," another person added.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological condition that causes miscommunication between the brain and muscles.
However, Jane notes there is no pain associated with the condition.
She said: "Dogs and cats with this disorder are born with it and it is not progressive, meaning it will not get worse.
"Pets with cerebellar hypoplasia are expected to have a typical lifespan for their breed.
"It's important to know that the condition is a spectrum, so no two dogs with it are alike, they have different levels of severity of symptoms."
For anyone else who is thinking of adopting a pet with cerebellar hypoplasia, Jane explained that it is a big commitment.
She added: "It does require a commitment on your part.
"You are essentially taking on the role of service human for them, and it's your responsibility to give them what they need to be as independent and safe as possible but most importantly that they have every opportunity to be a dog or cat."
She hopes that Stevie's social media fame will help encourage other people to adopt cats and dogs with cerebellar hypoplasia into loving homes.