By Janet McAfee
Great things come in small packages, and a once homeless 6-pound Chihuahua brings amazing joy these days. The little stray dog was desperately running through the streets in the hot summer when a Good Samaritan scooped her up and brought her to the Loving All Animals shelter. She had no ID tag or microchip to identify an owner.
They named her Gidget. The organization provided veterinary work that included stool sample check for parasites, vaccinations, Rabies vaccine, and spay surgery. Her veterinarian estimated her age to be 8 years. Given that small breed dogs can easily live 15 years or longer with good medical care, she was middle aged. Chihuahuas and Chi blends make up the largest group of small dogs in public shelters, and limiting their numbers is critically important. Gidget was a happy pup, enjoying the company of other dogs, staff, and volunteers.
However, Chihuahuas suffer from a bad reputation, usually unwarranted. Prospective fosters and adopters often call in, “I want to get a small size dog, anything but a Chihuahua!” There is a stereotype some people believe that Chihuahuas are snippy and bark too much. Gidget’s story tells us that each dog is unique, and stereotypes can keep us from getting to know a variety of dogs we can fall in love with.
Chihuahuas originated from the State of Chihuahua in Mexico. They are best known for their big erect ears and prominent eyes. Their personality is similar to terriers, fearless, devoted, and loyal. Initially bred for companionship, they were also used for their ability to hunt rats.
The dogs became more popular after the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and some greedy breeders sought to cash in on more profits with more reckless breeding. Accidental breeding by Chihuahuas kept outdoors made their population soar. We see rows of Chihuahuas and Chi mixes in public shelter kennels. Sadly, they get passed up for meet and greets where they could display their charming personalities.
Sometimes a dog orchestrates its own adoption. Richie Wood and Ido Barbibay arrived at the Loving All Animals shelter to meet a different dog. Gidget was inside the lobby, and when they knocked at the door she raced out into the yard to enthusiastically greet them. She bounced up and down and followed them as they entered the building. Richie recalls, “We fell in love on the spot. We spent an hour visiting with her. It immediately felt like she was part of our family. We named her Daisy, and she is the sweetest most loving doggy anyone could ever ask for. Loving All Animals is an amazing organization!” The charming dog had a giant smile instinctively knowing she was soon going to her forever home
Enroute home they stopped off at Bones & Scones and purchased a pair of booties to protect Daisy from the hot pavement. Next stop was an outdoor patio restaurant where Daisy garnered lots of attention and more human fans.
In a recent update, Richie tells us, “The highlight of having her is how much joy Daisy brings to our household. We wake up in the morning and play games with her. When we arrive home she attacks us with kisses. She has a huge following in the neighborhood and in local cafes. She’s such a good girl and wants to greet people and other dogs. Our vet estimates she is only 6 years old”. Her charismatic photos on Facebook are priceless.
There are numerous Chihuahuas at our county shelter in Thousand Palms, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, including the adorable one pictured below, www.rcdas.org. There are almost always Chihuahuas at Loving All Animals, www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000.
Daisy’s message is “Adopt a Chihuahua! I hardly bark at all except when I need to protect my home. Please don’t go to a breeder and spend thousands of dollars for a Chihuahua when there are so many of us of all ages in shelters!”