An Update on Rosie, the Sweet but Sad Inbred Chihuahua

It's been just over two weeks since her rescue from a backyard breeder, and she still can't walk. But Rosie is making huge strides thanks to a loving owner.


Remember Rosie, the terribly deformed Chihuahua who was rescued from an animal hoarder/backyard breeder in late June? Our story on her and the other 20 or so rescued dogs brought a great deal of reader empathy, and plenty of sadness and anger about Rosie’s condition, which is the result of careless inbreeding.

Despite her needlenose snout, super-bowed legs, bony body, purply-pink skin, and bulging and eerily light eyes, many readers saw her beauty — both inner and outer. So did her rescuer, Cinnamon Muhlbauer.

“She is an absolutely gorgeous girl who just needs a little TLC. Well, maybe a lot of TLC,” she told us.

We checked back in with Muhlbauer a couple of weeks after the rescue to see how her little Rosie was faring. Rosie has been enjoying her time with Muhlbauer, her husband, and several rescued animals on a ranch in the Los Angeles mountains near Malibu. That TLC Rosie needed? She’s getting it by the bucketful.

During Rosie’s recent visit to her veterinarian at the Malibu Veterinary Clinic, the vet’s wife, Evelien Van Netten Lupo, decided to take some “glamour” shots of Rosie to show her off to her fullest.

“She wanted to capture what I see, what her husband sees, and what she saw when she met Rosie, so that people would understand that she is bright, curious, loving, hopeful, and mischievous, and that we are giving her a chance to develop those traits to their full potential,” says Muhlbauer. “I don’t think anyone viewing those photos can question why we would work so hard to save a little one like her, or why people work to help dogs that some don’t think are worth saving.”

The good news is that some conditions, like Rosie’s mange and malnutrition, are fixable. “But the genetic defects are things we will just have to deal with and work around,” she says.

I asked about the specifics of the physical conditions Dr. John Lupo has diagnosed so far. “Her bloodwork came back with no sign of infections or any organ malfunctions. Her X-rays are another matter. Her chest is compressed partially from bearing most of her body weight day after day for two years and partially from her genetics. She has fairly severe scoliosis, which is visible without an X-ray — that little spine curves almost in an arc. Both her front and hind legs have deformities. Her bones did not develop properly so they fused together in places.”

“Going forward, we can’t do much about her shortened front legs, but her hind legs can and will stretch out as they should,” says Muhlbauer. “We are hoping that with physical therapy she can build enough strength to walk more than a few feet and have better balance, and perhaps she can even have a cart at some point, which would support her front legs and allow her to move her forward via her back legs.

“Her fur is coming back in little peach fuzz spots, which shows what some good nutrition can do. She is still bright red in places; however, her skin texture and color improves daily. The mange treatment is working! Her eyes are getting used to light and dark and are finally functioning normally, so she has expression to her face rather than the startled confused look she had before.”

I asked how Rosie’s demeanor has changed since their earliest time together. “When I first got her, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She was nervous and tense — I could feel it in her body. Now she is relaxed and curious about everything. She is demanding! She is confined to the bathroom until she is stronger, and she crabwalks out of her bed and drapes across my feet while I am putting on my make up in the morning. If there is an opportunity to be cuddled she is not going to miss it!”

“Rosie will need special care throughout her life, but she is worth the extra effort,” Muhlbauer says.

We’ll keep you posted on Rosie’s recovery, and you can check for updates on Rosie’s Facebook page. Even if she can’t walk yet, with the loving care of Muhlbauer, her vet, and others in her life, she’s already taken many steps in the right direction.

Photos by Evelien Van Netten Lupo.

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