I’m just as surprised as you!
I’ve always known that I wanted to own a dog as I got older, became more stable in my job, and eventually achieved my own backyard. If you had asked me in the past, I would have told you that I wanted a big dog. I wanted a dog that I could play with, take on hikes, and wrestle with.
I would always tell people that I wanted a Great Dane or a Labrador Retriever. These are the types of dogs that would satisfy all of my dog-based wishes. They could go hiking and camping with me. I could lie down next to them and rest my head on their chest. We could wrestle over toys, and I wouldn’t hurt them. Plus, they are so big that they would protect me if I ever needed it.
I now have a dog, and let me tell you a little about her. I did not get a Great Dane. I did not go and pick out the cutest yellow Labrador Retriever puppy I could find. In fact, I didn’t adopt a dog even remotely close to either one.
I rescued a Chihuahua. She was so small when we got her that she fit in the palm of my hand! Before you roll your eyes and think, “I hate Chihuahuas,” let me tell you the story of how I ended up with this little thing, and how she’s changed my perspective forever.
It all started when my wife and I moved into our new house and were finally ready to take the plunge and adopt a little companion. We both agreed one hundred percent that we needed a dog. We loved cats, but a dog was a better fit for us at this time in our lives. We began looking at animal shelters using their online portals to evaluate the new dogs that were coming in. Dozens came through, but none that seemed like ‘our dog’; until one day.
We read a post online about a group of Chihuahua puppies that had been found in a Walmart parking lot with their mother. All of the puppies were healthy; they had been brought in and cared for by the rescue group.
We knew we had to meet them. I, being a little less committal than my wife, went to meet these puppies intending to do only that. We arrived and spent a few hours playing with the five or six pups that they’d found, but one stood out to us. She was excitable and interactive, but not over the top. She let us pet her, and she licked our hands when we did. She tolerated us moving her every which way and handing her back and forth, like the cutest little baseball.
My wife and I looked at each other and communicated almost perfectly telepathically as all partners can do. I communicated, “Let’s go home and fill out the online application for this dog.” She thought, “Let’s fill out the application here and let everybody know that we want this puppy right now.” We nodded in agreement and walked in different directions. As I neared the edge of the adoption clinic, I turned around to see her, still holding the little furball and talking to one of the volunteers.
As I approached them, I could hear their conversation evolving from how cute the dogs were to what I do for a living. “Oh, you’re a veterinarian?” The volunteer greeted me as I approached. “You don’t even need to fill out the application, just give us your information, and you can take her home now.”
I awkwardly began to make up an excuse, but between the cute puppy that had somehow found its way into my arms and the look in my wife’s eyes, an excuse never formed. Now, this is not meant to be a story about her making me get a dog I didn’t want. I wanted this puppy too; she had stolen my heart at first sight. However, without my wife there, I would have taken a less direct approach and probably would have lost the opportunity to adopt my future dog.
We took the tiny puppy home that day completely unprepared. We did not even have a food or water bowl for her. She was drinking and eating from some of our least favorite Tupperware’s for a day or two. We named her Cheese, which lasted for several days before deciding that we didn’t like that name. Her name was then formally and permanently changed to Feta (as in the cheese); though, my Grandma did anoint her with the middle name, Jean, for reasons as yet unknown. From this fateful day forward, I fell in love with Chihuahuas.
Here are a few of the perks of Chihuahuas, particularly mine, that make them great pets.
1. Chihuahuas often like to burrow in their beds, and ours holds true to this stereotype.
She will flip her blanket over her head every night circling the bed as she does so. This nightly routine is adorable; albeit sometimes dangerous, as she occasionally falls over the side of her bed and has to restart the process. Additionally, she has chosen a sleeping bag style bed as one of her favorite spots to relax. Burying herself fully inside it, only to emerge when she hears somebody in the kitchen. This behavior is heart-meltingly cute.
2. She is low maintenance.
She still gets stinky and dirty like a normal-sized dog, but in such a small package she is easy to bathe. We quickly hop in the shower with her in our arms and scrub her up with puppy shampoo. A quick rinse finishes the process and she’s smelling fresh again. Well, as fresh as any dog smells after a bath! It’s the easiest time I’ve ever had bathing a dog; however, I think my wife does the bathing more than I do.
3. She is cheap.
The cost to keep her fed is relatively low. We spend maybe $5–$10 per month for her dog food and treats and purchase a new bag of food for her every 4–6 weeks! We have only had to purchase new treats for her a few times in her life, and that’s not because she’s a bad girl.
4. Small poops.
This one is self-explanatory. Her poops are way smaller than any dog my family has owned in the past which makes cleanup much quicker and easier. I wish I could honestly tell you that this fact translated to me always having a clean yard, but it doesn’t.
5. Finally, the Zoomies.
This term is used affectionately to describe small dogs’ almost otherworldly bouts of energy. This causes her to tear through the house at top speed for no particular reason. Most of the time she doesn’t even carry a toy. She seems to simply be running just to run. Like a furry tornado, she will race up and down her stairs onto and then off of the couch. Stopping only to stare at me for a brief second, taking a little more of my heart, before taking off again.
At 6.25 pounds (2.8 kg), Feta has made more of an impact than I ever would have thought possible. Believe me, I used to have the same eye-roll reaction when I heard Chihuahuas mentioned. They are often associated with being mean, loud, more similar to cats than dogs, or otherwise generally irritating. However, she has surprised me in how little she barks, and she hasn’t been mean to anybody that she’s met. Of course, I’m her veterinarian, so I’m sure there will come a time when she gets a little fed up with me for that aspect of our relationship. The catlike things that she does, like burying herself in her bed, just add to her overall cuteness.
Ultimately, I am not trying to convince everybody to rush out and adopt a Chihuahua. All I’m suggesting is to not knock a dog breed until you’ve tried it. Our Chihuahua is my absolute favorite dog, and I meet a ton of them. I’m sure you know that this opinion is as unbiased as they come!