JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Good Dog: Small Dog, Big Heart

Illustration by John Cuneo

by Wells Tower – June/July 2014  –  Garden &  Gun  –  Cross-Posted at Just One More Pet

The nervous work of owning—and finally loving—a Chihuahua

For many years, I thought that owners of small dogs harbored stunted souls. Parents of infant beauty queens. Weird bachelors with pet stairs by their beds. Adult hoarders of dolls and teddy bears. People deranged by an obsession with the adorable.

Then, in my late twenties, when I was living in  New Orleans, a good friend of mine found a bedraggled Chihuahua in a ditch and brought her home. It was a comical, toothless animal with a bullfrog’s tongue that would slap her in the eye on the recoil. That dog had a lot of ditch trauma to work through. She needed to sit on somebody at all times or she got the shakes. I was home most days, so I let the dog make use of my lap during business hours. When I moved back to North Carolina, I was surprised to discover a Chihuahua-size hole in my life.

So I started looking for a dog. I knew I wanted a pound animal, though not for any lofty moral reasons. I wanted a desperate dog, one without high expectations of whoever took it in. My family had dogs when I Deformed Chiwas a kid. The bunch of us should be arrested for how we let those animals down. They were outdoor dogs too disgusting to pet. We let ticks get on them and grow as big as minié balls. When the family went out of town, we’d leave the dog on the porch with a bag of cheap food. Eventually, they’d get sick of us and wander off. So my track record with dogs wasn’t the greatest, but I figured one otherwise bound for the gas chamber couldn’t really gripe about winding up in my care.

I spent long hours at the keyboard, browsing head shots at an online clearinghouse for discarded dogs. A Chihuahua was what I was after, but I didn’t want it to be too grotesque: too bug-eyed or hog-snouted or bat-eared or obviously rodentlike. Looking for an ungrotesque Chihuahua is like trying to find a dignified clown. It took a good bit of time.

At last, I found a candidate. The head shot showed a creature with a long, aristocratic nose and smart, Dobermanly ears. Her eyes were large but not hyperthyroidal. They seemed to reflect intelligence but also the right measure of desperation. She was waiting on death row at the dog pound in Winston-Salem, ninety minutes from my home. I gave them a call to see if the dog had yet been gassed. “Nope, she’s still here!” an exhaustingly jolly Southern voice exclaimed.

“Oh, you will just love this crazy little creature. We call her Tinsy, but you could call her Teensy-Meensy-Weensy-Eensy! She is that small! She’s one of them little reindeer dogs, you know. She’s just always bouncing all around on them little teensy reindeer legs. She is kinda licky and kinda barky but she’s a funny little ball of fun.”

Annabelle May 09Funny Chi

I was in the market for a lap sleeper, a hot-water bottle in canine form. From the sound of it, this reindeer dog embodied much that is dislikable in the miniature breeds. But I had committed to paying the dog a visit, and I make it a point never to betray a promise to the incarcerated. I went and had a look. The lady I talked to on the phone dragged Tinsy out from where she’d been hiding behind a file cabinet. Tinsy, who was maybe a year old, had been found walking the streets of Winston-Salem naked. Like most women found in this condition, she was not in the greatest shape. She resembled a dog the way those caiman-head back scratchers resemble an alligator. Her face was okay, but the rest of her body was a bony rod upholstered in bald gray skin. I had seen rats with prettier tails. Hers was without a whisker and looked as though it had been set afire and extinguished under the needle of a sewing machine.

“You wanna hold her?” the shelter lady asked me, wagging Tinsy at me like a dishrag. I did not want to hold Tinsy. I wanted to leave the room. But Tinsy was thrust into my arms. This dog had long, scraggly talons, and she clung to my sweater like a bat to a screen door. I grimaced. The dog grimaced. “That’s a wrap!” cried the shelter lady. “That is your dog. She is absolutely your dog.”

I wanted to tell this woman that I wanted Tinsy like I wanted a case of shingles, but courage failed me. I wrote a check for the adoption fee. Then I carried the dog to my car and began calling every softhearted person I knew to see if they would take this creature off my hands.

At home, I took to my couch and fretted. What business did I have with a dog? I traveled for work eight months out of the year. And this dog? I didn’t want to look at her much less look after her for the twenty years Chihuahuas can expect to live. (The oldest living Chihuahua is 32+). Then the dog, who had been busy peeing on my bedroom floor, wandered over. She tilted her head at a sympathetic angle, then she jumped onto the sofa and clambered onto my shoulder, where she pulled herself into a sphere and went snortingly to sleep.

How easily we are gentled. The plan to ditch her got ditched. I started calling her Edie, whose vowel sounds she hearkened to as she had her prison name. I loaded her up on ludicrously expensive foods: Alaskan salmon, mutton jerky from New Zealand. She doubled her weight, from two pounds to four. I put her through expensive mange treatments, fed her fish oil, greased her in vitamin E to regrow her hair. After a couple of seasons, she fluffed out and the knobs of her spine receded. She began to look less like a back scratcher and more, as a friend described her, “like a cross between a wolf and a flea.”

“No man should have a dog like that,” my cousin once said to me. “We’re not careful enough. You could drop the Sunday paper on her and break her back. It’s like getting a crystal set. No guy should have a thing that fragile in the house.”

And it’s true. Owning Edie is nervous work. A few years back, I nearly lost her. Summoned from the house by the sound of raving crows, I went out to check on Edie in the yard. She was absent from her usual sunbathing spot. In the lower corner of the lawn, I saw a barred owl, spreading its wings over a small, still gray form. Edie was too heavy a piece of live cargo for the owl, so the bird was patiently trying to murder her. I nearly had to kick the bird off of her. A talon had made three bloody divots in Edie’s head, but no lasting damage was done.

At nearly twelve, Edie is deep in middle age and, repairwise, is not much less expensive than a ’55 Studebaker. I’ve put far more money into her mouth than I’ve put into my own. Before I got Edie, I’d have said that a fair definition of an insane person is somebody who takes out a thirty-three-hundred-dollar cash advance to pay for exploratory liver surgery for a dog. I did that three years ago. But when you get accustomed, every night, to a warm gentle presence stretching herself across your clavicle and easing you into sleep, it becomes as dire a habit as barbiturate abuse. Addicts do crazy things to keep withdrawal at bay.

It’s weird. One day, you’re a twenty-eight-year-old man of traditional tastes and accoutrements and the next, you’re a forty-year-old bachelor with a four-pound, big-eyed, molting pussy willow of a dog.

Still, I do what I can to keep the grotesquerie contained. When people ask what kind of dog I have, I tell them, “I don’t know, I got her from the pound.” I do not carry Edie around in a Snugli. I have never bought the dog shoes or a hat. I would like to tell you that my home contains no doggie sweaters, and that there are not dog stairs by my bed, but this would not be true.

For those of us who love small dogs… Chihuahuas, Chihuahua Mixes, and miniatures of any type, we know that they are great pets and are always happy when just one more person discovers how special they are or another person or family adopts must one more small dog… just one more pet of any kind.  Every pet deserves a good home! (JOMP)

The Fam thumb in Frame

“For the Love of a Pet”

Our gang of Chihuahuas and Chiweenies (JOMP)

Photo by The UCLA Shutterbug

Advertisements

February 27, 2015 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Chihuahua, Chiweenie, Dogs, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

California Shelters Overflowing with Chihuahuas

001445565

Reuters/Landov

The young woman was very specific: She wanted a Chihuahua, “just like Tinkerbell,” the petite pet of Paris Hilton. She waited weeks, coming back often to look at the dogs in this Southern California animal shelter. So, when “Teensy” a 1-year-old Chihuahua was recently surrendered by her owners, she signed the adoption papers and popped the pooch straight into her purse.

Unfortunately, she was back three weeks later. The dog had pooped in her bag, run into traffic and barked a lot. “Like so many people who got these little dogs because celebrities have them, she wasn’t prepared for the reality of taking care of her,” the shelter’s director tells PEOPLEPets.com.

California is in the midst of a Chihuahua explosion with animal shelters and rescue operations jammed with tiny little dogs like Teensy. In L.A. the situation was so dire, that Katherine Heigl helped get 25 of the pocket-sized pups airlifted to New Hampshire, where they were adopted immediately. A third of the canines in the San Francisco city shelters are Chihuahuas and in Oakland the population has reached a whopping 50 percent. Experts say those numbers are unprecedented.

The Chihuahua glut started about three years ago, according to Nancy Goodwin, director of the City of Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. “Breeds get popular and then when times get tough, we’ll see an influx of them given up. Years ago it was German shepherds,” she says. “Now it’s the little dogs.”

In the last few years a lot of younger people are coming into the shelters looking for the tiny pups. “They tell us they want to carry the dogs in their purses just like the celebrities,” says Goodwin. “And sometimes that’s not as much fun as it looks. They are a responsibility.”

Blame it on Paris. Blame it on Taco Bell. But the combination of movies (2001’s Legally Blonde, 2008’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua) and tabloid photos of celebrities toting their pint-size pets in huge purses has resulted in overpopulation, according to Steve Kragenbrink, of the Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo.

“Some of this is accidental breeding,” says Kragenbrink. “Some of it is people trying to make money by breeding, which makes for too many of one kind of animal.” The solution is to spay and neuter pets. “There’s no reason for a dog not to be fixed,” says Kragenbrink, who’s taken Chihuahuas from L.A. shelters to his location for adoption. “The alternative to spaying and neutering is euthanasia. That’s a cruel and unnecessary solution to overpopulation.”

If you’re interested in adding a pet to your family, consider adopting or fostering a Chihuahua. For more information click here.

Related:  Shelters Full of Chihuahuas

Posted:  Just One More Pet

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal Rescues, Change Number of Pet Restrictive Laws. Ordinances and Rules, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pets, Political Change, Stop Euthenization, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…

“He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel; he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the dog breed — kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is made up of all riffraff that’s left over.”  …Mark Twain

(Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…)

Doggie DNA Testing

Big Family

 

Unknown Mixed Breeds

Cheech and Duke

Through the marvels of DNA testing, some of the greatest mysteries of Mutt-dom are being revealed.

Dogs of vague or unrecognizable ancestry — whether fluffy white mongrels with Chihuahua ears and beagle-like voices or massive hounds that resemble nothing previously seen in nature — are being exposed for what they really are, genetically speaking.

DNA testing can disclose what breeds dominate their family trees. And thousands of people are happy to pay, about $60 to $170 depending on the method and company chosen, to end the what-do-you-suppose-he-is speculation of mixed-breed dog owners everywhere.

The first test was unveiled less than a year ago. Now, consumer interest is growing so fast that more companies are jumping into the doggie-identification business, websites are being enhanced, and additional breeds are being added to testing databases.

“Pure curiosity, getting the answer” is the reason most owners seek out the testing, says Neale Fretwell, head geneticist for Mars Veterinary, maker of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis. The analysis can determine which of 134 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club composes a dog’s genetic makeup.

And some of the answers are real stunners, not only for the owners but also for the veterinarians who have made their best guesses, Fretwell says.

The procedure requires an appointment with a veterinarian to draw a blood sample, and when analysis is completed in two or three weeks, a follow-up visit to discuss the findings. The pricing is set by individual veterinarians, $135 to $170.

Another reason owners go the testing route is to uncover possible explanations for behaviors that might be inherited, such as herding people and other pets or rooting around in chipmunk or mole holes.

Other owners want to know whether their dogs have a high proportion of a breed predisposed to a particular ailment or frailty, although experts caution that it’s impossible to know which traits, including propensity for disease or medical problems, a mongrel might inherit from any particular breed.

No one offering such tests suggests a mongrel assumes some sort of elevated status upon learning a purebred bloodhound or dachshund entered his ancestry generations ago.

Indeed, the companies celebrate the characteristics of mixed breeds, and some experts applaud “hybrid vigor,” the belief that mixing unrelated breeds can create a stronger, healthier dog than purebreds, which can pass on genetic conditions found in specific breeds.

Many clients are “very surprised” upon receiving word of what breeds populate their dog’s background, Fretwell says.

Meg Retinger, chief administrative officer of BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., says: “Some people say, ‘That’s just exactly what I thought.’ “Others” have such preconceived notions about what their pet is they just won’t accept the results.”

In January, the lab began marketing its $59.95 DNA Breed Identification kit, which tests for 61 AKC breeds using cheek cells scraped by the owner.

But the signature appearance characteristics of a particular breed don’t always materialize, even when there’s a high proportion of that breed in a dog, Fretwell says.

A mongrel with a German shepherd parent or grandparent, for example, might not have the black and tan coloring, the saddle pattern on its back or even the long muzzle. Some could not show any shepherd characteristics.

Size, color and a host of physical features such as ear and muzzle shape and tail type are influenced by genetics, and when several breeds meld in one dog, it’s tough for even experts to eyeball a mutt and accurately assess what lies within.

Connie Steele of Colorado Springs learned that. This year she adopted a black-and-white dog that shelter personnel thought was mostly border collie and about 1½ years old. She soon discovered from her veterinarian that Ellie was still a puppy, probably less border collie than believed and almost certain to grow a lot more.

Steele had Ellie tested because, she jokes, she wanted “a bit of warning if I’m going to need to plan ahead for a larger house to accommodate a 2-year-old pony-sized dog.”

Upon receiving Ellie’s results, Steele did not begin house-shopping, though she was surprised by the breeds found in her background. Steele believes the information she now has about Ellie and also Kayla, another recently adopted shelter dog, offers clues about how to approach their training.

Most DNA tests show three or four different breeds in the mixed breeds’ ancestries, and many show five or six, experts say. Several more probably are in the mix, but the amounts have been so dissipated over the generations, they are merely weak traces, unlikely to influence a dog’s appearance or behavior.

And, yes, a few dogs comprise so many disparate breeds, the experts and their tests just can’t solve the puzzle.

“Even the best test can’t answer every question of biology,” says Dennis Fantin, chief of operations for MetaMorphix, a company in Beltsville, Md., that has done testing for the AKC for years. The company now offers a $119.95 mixed-breed cheek-swab kit. The Canine Heritage XL Breed Test can detect 108 breeds.

Sometimes, any pure DNA has become “so diluted” by encounters with mixed breeds over the generations that no answers emerge, Fantin says.

Their owners are told the mystery must remain.

From USA Today

Chorkies           &              Chiweenies

Designer Breeds

“My name is Oprah Winfrey. I have a talk show. I’m single. I have eight dogs — five golden retrievers, two black labs, and a mongrel. I have four years of college.”  …Oprah Winfrey, when asked to describe herself during jury selection

50

Join Us At ‘Just One More… Pet’

…in the Fight Against Unnecessary Pet Euthanization By Finding Loving Homes for Unwanted and Abandoned Pets, by Adopting Just One More Pet and By Fighting Legislation That Restricts Pet Owners To Less Than a Combination of 4-Pets   

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Euthenization, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chihuahua Song…. Now This Will Make You Smile

 

must-be-the-perfect-smell-spot-sm1The Perfect Smell Spot

Quote:  Now this will make you smile!!

 Chihuahua Song  – Sing Along

where-is-that-perfect-spot-smChristmas Morning Walk

 Chihuahua Song

 

Photos by:  Marion Algier – the UCLA Shutterbug

 

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, pet fun, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Photos From The Beverly Hills Chihuahua Premier

   

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Movie Premier photos 

Photo by: Marion Algier – the UCLA Shutterbug

A Great Time Was Had By All!!

More Photos 

Related Articles:  Shelters Full of Chihuahuas

Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

September 20, 2008 Posted by | Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, Pets, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments