By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane
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Videographer / Director: Kathy Sherback,
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Petite pup Layla from Petersburg, Florida is the canine companion of Kathy Sherback.
She was born on December 23, 2014 in a litter of four puppies. Layla was the runt of the litter, and was not even half the size of her two siblings.
Kathy said: "As a young puppy her little apple head was so adorable – a quality many Chihuahua lovers breed for but one that is associated with problems, unknown to myself. One of these problems is hydrocephalus.”
Hydrocephalus is the build up on fluid inside the skull, putting pressure on the brain causing seizures, blindness and behavioural changes.
The congenital form of hydrocephalus is most likely to develop in small, miniature and toy breeds - particularly chihuahuas.
Kathy began to notice the warning signs when Layla was a small puppy, and her condition quickly deteriorated.
She told Barcroft TV: "One of the signs was Layla all of a sudden falling over, for no apparent reason.
"By the time Layla reached four months old it was becoming very evident she was losing control of her legs, almost like the wires in her brain were crossed and she could no longer walk properly. Her rear legs were crossed over and her front legs would buckle. “
After a examination, a vet suggested Layla undergo brain surgery to reduce the pressure in her skull. Although a successful operation in humans, the mortality rate for this procedure is high in dogs Layla’s size.
Kathy decided against the surgery, and decided to try and give Layla the best possible life.
She said: “We started Layla on homemade dog food consisting of meats, fruits and vegetables. We also began supplementing her with probiotics, herbs, and superfood supplements.
"Within a month her coat began to grow back and fill in, and her lymph nodes swelling went completely down. Her crossed legs improved a bit but never enough to give her strength to hold herself up.
“So we had a wheelchair specifically designed for her.”
Due to Layla’s immobility, she relies on Kathy to take her everywhere, and she even has an array of outfits for her travels.
Kathy said: "Layla’s very talented, she is quite musical, plays the guitar, piano, flute, violin, harmonica.
“She also is a real sports enthusiast – soccer, football, tennis, golfing, baseball and performs many different occupations – doctor, firefighter, sailor. She seems to have an outfit for every occasion.”
Despite the sacrifices Kathy must make for this tiny pup, the reward is worth it.
Kathy said: She certainly attracts a lot of attention and brings a lot of smiles to a lot of people in her travels, even back here in Florida. People are always amazed as to her size.
"With Laylas’ condition I have become her legs and best friend."