It's strange, isn't it, how something will be outside one's range of awareness and interest, then it quickly comes to one's attention from more than one source?
Confession: I have never found the Chihuahua to be an appealing breed. My stereotype of them has been of a small, yapping dog who is more than likely to defy any attempt at training.
But, slowly, over the past five years or so, I have become more and more aware of their serious plight, of the great suffering of many Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes.
At least once a week, I check out the dogs available for adoption at Pet Orphans of Southern California.
It's a sentimental thing with me. Pet Orphans was Daphne's, our first rescue's, Alma Mater. I hold the kind, caring people there in high esteem and I cheer every time one of their rescues finds a forever home.
Pet Orphans takes dogs of all breeds and mixes. But what I began to observe over the past few years was the comparatively high proportion of Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes among their dogs available for adoption. It also seemed to me that many of these dogs waited an appreciable length of time before finding homes. I began to realize that Chihuahuas were a breed in considerable distress.
Then, about a year ago, a kind animal lover sent me the picture of a particularly beautiful long haired, blue merle Chihuahua. This lovely, carefully bred creature was in desperate need of a home asap. Another indication of Chihuahua distress.
Then, just this past Sunday, John called my attention to a book mentioned in the San Diego Union Tribune: A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life. The author, Steven Kotler, was signing books at Warwick's in La Jolla last night. There was no way I could go, so I did the next best thing and looked Kotler up on the net. It turns out that he and his wife run a dog rescue in New Mexico: Rancho de Chihuahua. These are people who are serious about doing something for the Chihuahua's plight. I urge you to click around their site and educate yourself about the special needs of these tiny, indomitable dogs.
Then, in case I wasn't getting the message, it was underlined for me last night as I was walking Bingley and Magic just before bedtime. A car was moving slowly down the street. When it came opposite us, the driver stopped and rolled down his window.
"Excuse me, m'am. Have you seen a very small dog?"
My immediate reaction was Thank Heavens I have not seen a loose, very small dog! It's one of my biggest nightmares as I walk two high prey sight hounds.
But I didn't share that reaction. I asked for a description.
Surprise, Surprise. The lost, loose dog was a Chihuahua.
I wanted to weep. I wanted to yell at the man, HOW COULD YOU LET SUCH A TINY, FRAGILE CREATURE OUT OF YOUR SIGHT HERE IN COYOTE COUNTRY?????
But, gentle reader, I restrained myself. I asked how the little dog had gotten loose.
It seems the the man was "dog sitting" three Chihuahuas. He had left them alone in his backyard for a sufficiently lengthy time that they had dug under his fence and wandered off. The other two had been found, but one little girl was still loose. The last sighting had been down the hill along the edge of a busy four lane street.
All paws are crossed this morning, hoping and praying that the little dog was found, that the owner has now learned to screen his "dog sitter" more carefully, and that the "dog sitter" now knows better than to leave a dog unattended in his back yard.
Meanwhile, lovers of this beleaguered breed are doing all they can. A local rescue is: Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego Friends of Portia send you a Big Thank You!