One look was all it took for Raquel Fernandes to fall in love. She and her husband arrived at New York’s SPCA of Westchester on June 28 intending to just meet — but not yet bring home — a geriatric Chihuahua they’d spotted on Petfinder, but the old dog wasn’t about to be left behind and busted out some new tricks so he could bust out of the shelter.
“He just ran out and stood up on his little legs. He put his little paws on me and looked up, and I was hooked,” Fernandes remembers. “He sat in my arms, and he just gave me a little kiss, and the lady from the shelter was like, ‘Oh, he doesn’t really give out kisses.’ I think we knew right then and there that this was it.”
The dog — now known as Mr. Crowley — had plenty of reasons to kiss Fernandes and her husband. They were the first potential adopters to visit him in the six weeks since he’d been found outside the facility one morning, abandoned in a cardboard box. At 12 years old, the senior dog was in pretty bad shape when shelter staff brought him inside. Skinny, with a mouthful of rotting teeth and a bad knee, Mr. Crowley needed medical attention before he could even go up for adoption.
The folks at the SPCA of Westchester got the 3-pound Chihuahua neutered and had all but two of his rotten teeth removed. He was diagnosed with a luxating patella, a common condition in Chihuahuas that sees the dog’s kneecap pop out of place, but it was not so severe that he couldn’t still enjoy short walks.
While Mr. Crowley was healing, Fernandes and her husband were an hour’s drive away in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, embarking on their search for a new family member. The couple had previously been fostering rescued Greyhounds, but felt ready for a more permanent pet relationship.
“I loved the idea of taking dogs off the track and kind of giving them a shot in a home once they were retired,” says Fernandes. “They were very well behaved dogs, very sweet dogs, but we only had them for two to three short weeks at a time. It wasn’t really long enough to bond with them.”
Recognizing that their calm household dynamic would be a perfect fit for a senior dog, Fernandes started looking for older dogs in her area, and noticed Chihuahuas were very prevalent in her search results.
“We saw a lot of them — more than any other breed or mix of breed,” she says.
After a couple potential adoptions fell through, Fernandes decided to give her search a final shot.
“I looked on Petfinder one last time, and his picture popped up,” she recalls. “He fit all the hopes and dreams we had for a little old man.”
The couple hopped in their car and drove to Westchester, and soon they were face to face with dog of their dreams.
“He was just the cutest little thing. His little tongue was hanging out, and he had no teeth, and I just thought, well, that’s perfect.”
With the kiss of approval from the elderly Chihuahua sealing the deal, Fernandes and her husband walked out of the SPCA with the dog who someone hadn’t even bothered to walk inside.
On the way home, Fernandes turned to her husband — whose cover band does a lot of Ozzy Osbourne — and suggested their new dog share a name with a song on Osbourne’s debut solo album. Something about the little dog just reminded her of the mumbling British rocker.
“His little tongue was hanging out, and he makes all these cute little wheezy, gurgling sounds. I don’t know why, but in my head it just popped out — Mr. Crowley.”
With a new name, Mr. Crowley was whisked off to his new life in New Jersey, where he enjoys short walks, plenty of treats, any available lap, and accompanying Fernandes to the local Shop Rite.
Fernandes is now sharing Mr. Crowley’s story on social media in the hopes of inspiring others to get senior dogs out of shelters.
“Just because they have less time doesn’t mean they have less love. I think they have even more love, it’s just more condensed.”