By Janet McAfee

The tiny Brindle coated Chihuahua wandered into a classroom at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Indio at the end of May. The school year was about ready to wrap up, and the children were thrilled to have a four-legged “fur” friend interrupt the tedium of school work. The dog looked like a tiny Tigress with her striking markings, but she had no collar or identifying tags. Teacher Christina Stockdale immediately sent a text with the dog’s photo to her colleague, teacher Anna Harris, an ardent animal lover.

Anna Harris took the dog to a local vet to check for a microchip, and there was none. She bought some dog food and fed the starving pup. No one came looking for the dog, and the school staff began to conclude she was a homeless stray. One of her students took the dog home over the weekend, but brought her back to school on Monday to report her family would not let her keep a fourth dog. Anna was still grieving over the loss of her dog Buster, and was unsure about adding a second dog to her household. The dog remained in the classroom, a welcome novelty to the students.

Finally, a school security guard called animal control and the dog was transported to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, the large Riverside county shelter that services most of our Valley. I happened to see this unusual Brindle dog at the shelter. Chihuahuas are the second largest breed, after Pit Bulls, to enter public shelters, and the second largest group to be euthanized. However, I thought this beautiful young dog had a good chance of getting adopted. Then two days later I got a urgent phone call from the rescue coordinator informing me the dog had become “fearful” and was scheduled for euthanasia.


I rescued the pup we named Brianna for Loving All Animals. Her wonderful foster parents, Alicia and Matt Bailey, were ready and waiting to provide lots of loving care. Initially, Brianna didn’t play with their other two Chihuahuas, and instead followed Alicia from room to room. Gradually Brianna came out of her shell, enjoying playtime with the other pups. Brianna prepared for her first television appearance on the Chanel 2 pet segment with Jenifer Daniels, decked out in an adorable outfit from Spoiled Dog Designs. However, she barked at the TV crew during the taping which may have put off prospective adopters. One early morning viewer was teacher Christina Stockdale who recognized the brindle dog from the school yard, and she forwarded the video to Anna Harris.

In July, Anna Harris was in Palm Desert for an appointment that was cancelled. She decided to drop in to Evans Eye Care and make an appointment, and was amazed to see the same Chihuahua in an adoption flyer displayed on the counter. Alicia Bailey’s lovely photograph highlighted the dog’s beauty. Anna reports, “I believe God put this dog in my path a third time. I believe this was his way of helping me heal after losing Buster. There were just too many coincidences here, and this was a message that it’s now time to get another dog. I immediately called Loving All Animals.”

Anna was thrilled to be reunited with the little dog she’d first met months earlier at the school. She recalls, “Brianna remembered me from the days at Jefferson school. She is more like my baby, and the bond between us is amazing. She knows I saved her back then, and she knows now she’s home with me forever.” Anna still has photos on her cell phone of her students reading stories to a captivated Brianna.

Daniel Harris, Anna’s husband, added, “Brianna is a unique, special little dog, and she does all the guarding at our home. She took to me from day one, immediately sitting on my lap.”

Brianna shares a home with the Harris’ other dog, Elvis. Anna reports, “Brianna has brought so much happiness to Elvis who is eating better and become more joyful since her arrival.” During my recent visit, the two pups played tug-a-war, tag, and happily raced through the house. Once a starving, homeless dog abandoned in a school yard, Brianna now lives the life of a pampered princess with Daniel and Anna Harris. And Brianna found her Elvis, her “Hunk ‘O Burning Love” who lights up her life with play dates!

My heart aches for all the other fabulous Chihuahuas filling the rows of public shelters in the Western United States. They peer out hopefully from behind kennel bars. Most of them will never experience the joy of Brianna. Most of them will never come out alive. The vast majority are as loving and fun to be with as the “white fluffy” pups that are quickly chosen.

If you would like to adopt or foster a rescue dog, contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000. Read about their programs at You can meet over 200 wonderful dogs and cats seeking homes at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms. You can view their adoptable animals at, or call (760) 343-3644. If you own a business, post flyers of homeless adoptable animals on a bulletin board. Share their photos on Facebook. Make sure your friends and neighbors spay and neuter their pets. If everyone helps, we can reach our goal of creating a “No Kill” Coachella Valley. Help Brianna’s buddies at the shelter get a happy ending!