When I first started thinking about getting a dog, I researched numerous breeds. As I read about the characteristics of each, I decided I wanted a Boston Terrier. My daughter really wanted a French Bulldog.
More important than breed was the fact that I wanted to rescue a dog. For me, having pets has always been more about giving abandoned living souls a home than about anything else. Of course companionship is a strong secondary motive, but the primary goal was always to do something beneficial for a soul in need.
The more I looked at shelter websites, I noticed that the dogs available for adoption were primarily Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas and their various mixes. Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are not overpopulating the local pound, at least not in Washington state.
My then-husband hated Pit Bulls and liked Chihuahuas, so that is how we ended up with our first dog, a Chihuahua-Rat Terrier mix called May Belle.
May Belle was very, very anxious and shy when we met her at the shelter. She was the last puppy of her litter and apparently had been nipping at potential adopters all day. By the time we arrived, shortly before the shelter closed, all of her siblings had found homes.
When the adoption specialist placed her in my arms, she did not nip or growl. She just shivered like a terrified little baby in her pink fleece blanket. I knew I would not leave her no matter what.
And that is how I became the mother to my first Chihuahua. The strange thing is, May Belle will growl at strangers — people who do not share our bloodline — yet she has never growled at or tried to bite my mom when she comes to visit. And my mom hates cats and dogs. But she does not hate May Belle.
Until I came to know May Belle, I was never someone who dreamed or fantasized about sharing my home with one Chihuahua, let alone the three now living with me. And even when I adopted May Belle, I was not planning to add more Chihuahuas to my family.
It was through my fostering work that we added Ruby and Daisy. I would never have picked either of them out from the shelter if I were browsing for a new dog. But because I met them when they were too terrified to even spend one night in the shelter kennels, I welcomed them into my home.
We had tried to find a companion for May Belle, but it wasn’t going so well. She growled at both of the dogs we’d introduced her to and we feared that she would not accept another dog. At the same time, we felt it would be good for her socially to have another canine companion. So when she accepted Ruby and Daisy without so much as a lip curl, we knew that May would have two canine companions instead of one.
That is how I became the mother to three Chihuahuas. And three Chihuahuas were pretty easy to take care of. I decided that three Chihuahuas equaled one large dog.
Despite the fact that I am now a well-rounded Chihuahua Mama, when I read about the breed online, I was not initially convinced that a Chihuahua would be the best match for my urban lifestyle. With their reputation for being yappy and sassy, it just wasn’t really what I was looking for. But as my life has shown me, reality often manifests itself much different than fantasy.
Because I would never have imagined enjoying life with Chihuahuas so much, let me share five reasons I think Chihuahuas are awesome urban pets.
Chihuahuas are easy to fit into a townhouse. They tend to curl up in little balls when they are not playing. They don’t need a king-sized bed or a mansion to feel comfortable. In fact, it seems like they prefer small spaces, like huddled into a blanket mountain, a crate, or on your lap.
You don’t have to take them on a five-mile run every day. You can walk a Chihuahua around the block a couple times a day and call it good. You will not be doing them a disservice to keep the physical activity on the lower end of fanatical.
However, I will say May Belle is the fastest runner I have ever seen at the dog park and can perform a two-hour walk with gusto. So just because they are small doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t enjoy a higher level of physical activity for those so inclined. Daisy, on the other hand, would probably prefer to walk with someone who moves at a snail’s pace; long walks are not her thing. Ruby is hit or miss. Most times she panics as soon as she sees someone coming and wants to run back home.
Of our three Chihuahuas, only Ruby is a yapper. Ruby was quiet for about the first six months in our house. With the open windows of summer, though, she has decided to tell everyone outside that she does not like any unusual ruckus. She does not like motorcycles, loud cars, booming bass, doors slamming, or people having a conversation as they pass by our home.
May and Daisy are mostly quiet. Yet all of them will alert to someone approaching our house, so they do work as guard dogs quite effectively.
Chihuahua poop is smaller than larger dog poop. Sometimes it is tiny. Their pee puddles are not very big either. So if they have an accident, it is not a tragedy.
Potty pads are always available and do their job well, except with Ruby, but that’s Ruby. Ruby pees and poops where she wants to pee and poop. At least she doesn’t have giant turds and massive pee sessions.
Your local shelter probably has several great Chihuahuas to choose from. I was at Seattle Humane Society yesterday to have my rescue kittens spayed and neutered. Of course I had to visit the shelter dogs. Much to my surprise, almost every single dog there was a Chihuahua mix.
It breaks my heart that there are so many unwanted Chihuahuas. They are good dogs; they are cute as heck and mostly easy to have in your life. I think more people should consider opening their homes to Chihuahuas, because they have many positive qualities but have an unfair reputation.
They are more loyal than most family members and develop extremely strong bonds to their human caretakers. A Chihuahua who is well taken care of will make you feel like a king or queen when you come home. As long as you are kind and gentle with them, they will love you like few others will. There are so many mixes of Chihuahuas at the shelters that you can probably find one that is a perfect match for any person or family. You do have to monitor them very closely with young children, because they don’t like the unpredictable nature of how little kids move and will defend themselves when they are scared.
So, with that said, if you are considering a new canine companion, it might be good to have a meet and greet with a couple of Chihuahuas from your local shelter.
Do you have a Chihuahua? What do you think of the breed? Let us know in the comments!
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About the Author: Kezia Willingham is a breadwinning laundry queen who lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. She is a regular contributor to Catster and Dogster. Her writing has appeared in xoJane, the Seattle Times, and the New York Times. She has an essay in Blended: Writers on the Step Family Experience. Follow her on Twitter.