Chloe Kardoggian the rescue Chihuahua may not have millions of Instagram followers like her human namesake, but she’s definitely got more than most dogs (and people). This Internet-famous senior pooch has more than 54,000 followers on Instagram, and a ton of passionate Facebook fans. It’s fitting that Chloe has such a strong following on social media, because the technology is what brought her to her human in the first place.
“I saw a post on Facebook from a girl I know that said, ‘My grandmother can’t keep her 9-year-old Chihuahua anymore. Is anybody interested in adopting her?’” Chloe’s human, Dorie Herman, remembers.
“It just sort of felt like the universe plopped her in my lap at the perfect time.”
A lifelong animal lover, Herman had just started her search for a pee-pad trained, friendly Chihuahua when she saw the post about Chloe. She had spent the previous seven months without a canine companion after her dog, Boston, passed away just one day shy of their 10th anniversary together.
“I met him at an adoption event and just somehow knew he was my dog,” says Herman, who adopted Boston when he was between 4 and 6 years old, back when she lived in Columbus, Ohio.
“He had a lot of special needs. He was a Cocker Spaniel, so he had a lot of medical issues and a lot of emotional issues from abuse, but we were so tightly bonded.”
Herman remembers Boston as an old man at heart, a dog who lived life at a senior pace even even when he was only 6 years old. When it came time to look for another dog, Herman was certain she’d like to get another senior pooch.
“I knew that a little older was totally fine and also much more my speed,” she explains.
On December 20, 2013, Chloe came to live with Herman and quickly showed her that not all senior dogs take things slowly.
“She was 9 and a half when I got her, and she’s 11 now. She’s got tons of energy and love and life.”
These days, Herman can’t imagine her own life without Chloe, but she admits she didn’t feel an instantaneous bond with the tiny Chihuahua the way she did with Boston — that part took time.
“It made me realize how much I was still grieving my previous dog,” Herman explains. “Sometimes you just say, ‘She needs a home and I have a home to give,’ and then you build this family together.”
They may not have been family at first sight, but soon enough, Chloe and Herman were inseparable, and a month into their relationship, Herman decided to put Chloe online.
“I was starting to take a lot of pictures of her, and I thought I’d start an Instagram page for her to keep her old family up-to-date,” says Herman, who says that Chloe had not only lived with the grandmother of her previous family, but also stayed with various other family members before they had to rehome her.
“Nobody was really in a position to take her back, but they loved her.”
That family may have loved her for many years, but they weren’t even Chloe’s first home. According to Herman, Chloe was originally purchased by a woman who intended to breed the tiny Chihuahua (who at that point weighed just 4 pounds and was called Hobbit). Thankfully, the person who bought Chloe realized a dog that tiny wasn’t suitable for breeding and found her a new home where she could be a pet, not a parent.
“When she was given away to this family, who she circulated through most of her life, they renamed her Chloe,” says Herman, who added the last name Kardoggian to Chloe’s Instagram account at the suggestion of a friend.
It didn’t take long for Chloe Kardoggian to blow up on Instagram, something that came as a surprise to Herman at first.
“It started growing, and I started chatting with people and making real-life friends, and she started gaining more and more popularity. I think it very organically snowballed,” she explains.
Herman and Chloe quickly learned about the senior adoption scene and were keen to get involved. The pair started attending events and media opportunities, and using Chloe’s ever-growing social media presence as a platform to advocate for older dogs who need homes.
“It’s like a ripple in a pond. People see that she’s an active senior, and even if they don’t attend that event, they think, ‘Oh, maybe there’s a senior near me that needs a home,’” says Herman.
These days, Chloe is a dog about town, supporting plenty of good causes, like the Liberty Humane Society’s recent Bark in the Park event in Jersey City, where Chloe was the celebrity guest of honor and costume contest judge.
At 11 years old, Chloe shows no signs of slowing down. Although she weighs in at just 3 pounds and has only two teeth, she’s in good health at this point. According to Herman, Chloe’s biggest health issue is one that’s very common in small Chihuahuas.
“She’s got a bit of a leaky heart valve, and she takes medicine for it twice a day.”
Of course, no one knows exactly how many years Chloe has left, but one thing is for sure — she’ll spend them all in the comfort of a loving home. Herman hopes that Chloe’s social media stardom can help other dogs find the same fate, whether through adoption or long-term fostering.
“There’s a program that Foster Dogs New York does called Fospice, and it’s something very near and dear to my heart, because these older dogs who somehow end up in shelters deserve a home to live out their days in,” says Herman, who has a bit of advice for anyone considering adopting a senior dog.
“You’re never going to regret it, even on the hard days.”
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.