So now I have a second dog. He is a Chihuahua named Zumi – short for nezumi, which is Japanese for mouse or rat. He’s rising two years of age.
Except for the ones I meet in the street, I have very little experience with Chihuahuas. What experience I have has led me to expect a terror-stricken little rodent that is carried everywhere, shivering and snarling at everyone and everything around it, or a nasty, shrieking, biting creature ravening at the end of a rhinestone leash, and resembling an overgrown shrew. Ankle biters. Face biters.
The thing about the Chihuahua owners I have met is that they think all this is excessively cute. In fact, it would seem that cuteness is the be-all and end-all goal of Chihuahua owner-hood. It is the number one desiderata for the breed – in the opinion of most people who own them.
Want to see a Chihuahua owner swoon with delight? Give them a bumble-bee costume with deely-bobber antennae for their dog. After shoving their irritably-resistant little darling into the thing and erupting into a spate of sugary endearments at the result, they will immediately set out to find a similar costume for themselves so they can – wait for it – match!
At first, I had no intention of taking this little dog into my family. One of his first acts was to bite the hell out of me for trying to put a sweater on him. Yes, Chihuahuas can bite. They can make you bleed. And this individual Chihuahua made me bleed. I was a bit alarmed at his ferocity. But then I reflected on the fact that in the week or so leading up to that bite he had been dumped at a dog park, chased around by scary, well-meaning people who wanted to help him, brought into a home where his amorous advances to the resident Pug were met with disgust and disapproval, and schlepped off to the vet, who poked him with needles and cut off his nuts. The business with the vet took place about five hours before he bit me.
I thought that if all that had happened to me - and recently - I might be inclined to savage the first person who came near me as well.
But things did improve rather quickly. In two weeks he was house-broken. (With a perfect record of zero “mistakes”) He did not yap. He did not hump. He never offered to bite again. He started to place trust in me, and he played enthusiastically with both my Border Collie and my cat. He demonstrated an understanding of both the physics and the social niceties of walking on a lead. He ate whatever was put in front of him. (Indeed, he well might – he was very scrawny when he arrived.) He acquired a new name, new friends, and demonstrated a better grasp of dog-to-dog etiquette than my Border Collie. In short, he demonstrated that he was a good dog.
How could I part with him?
And yes, he is cute. But I won’t hold it against him…