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Tony Hayden knew the dachshund-shaped hole in his heart wouldn't be easy to fill. After all, his dog had been by his side for 21 years. He died just days before Christmas in 2014. Still, Hayden knew he must have another dachshund.
After an exhaustive internet search, he found a dog who was like none he had ever known. Meatball was born with a condition called Cerebral Hypoplasia, and his breeder considered him defective. Hayden could still have him, but this dog would need a very special kind of best friend.
So, Hayden threw himself into learning about Meatball's condition. Cerebral hypoplasia left the puppy with an undeveloped cerebellum - the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Meatball's movements were awkward, making something as simple as walking a struggle.
For the next four to six months, Tony did physical therapy exercises with Meatball and had him scheduled with twice-a-week acupuncture to stimulate blood flow. By the time Meatball was 8 months old, he was walking with only a slight limp.
Today, two years after Hayden took Meatball home, he's running. But Meatball isn't stopping there. The little dog has catapulted into social media stardom, drawing more than 100,000 fans on Instagram. Along the way, Meatball is proving that even the smallest dogs, when given hope, really know how to run with it.