My First Chihuahua, and Her First Winter
There is a moment when you have a little dog, that they look to you. With those deep little eyes seeing only you, knowing and trusting, asking for your guidance. When they truly look to you, it melts your heart through any experience you've had or would hope to have. And amazes you. And changes you.
I first saw Ponyo's picture on the Colorado Groomers Facebook page around early December. She was poised on a chair that was draped in a maroon blanket, her ears back while her wide little brown eyes focused on who was obviously asking her to "Stay". For weeks I had been talking to my husband about another dog. A puppy, perhaps, but one of small stature as we have two others. Our limited space and finances would only accommodate a smaller addition, if we wanted one at all. And to be honest, all the other women around me were (and still are) having children, an undertaking my husband and I are not yet ready to yield ourselves to. But, alas, dogs are my passion and love, and if everyone is having new additions, why not me? So once I saw "Wutwut's" photos online I just had to inquire.
I called the breeder. She checked out. Reputable, caring, informative and with very impressive lines, "Wutwut" was kept because she didn't measure up to breed standard (because of coat and temperament), but the breeder's children had become attached. "She's a wonderful dog," I was told, "and she's great around children. My boys adore her. But we have 4 other dogs, and Christmas is approaching. We want her to go to a good home, and the $100 for her would go straight to the boys' Christmas gifts."
I researched. I talked with the breeder again. "Patellas?" I asked, "Aggression? Socialization?" until finally we said, "Yes. We'll get her and pay the $100 next weekend."
Throughout the waiting, something was gnawing at me. I couldn't stop thinking about this tiny little girl. So, on Tuesday night as I was doing the dishes my husband arrived home. "We have to get her tonight," I declared, to his surprise and mine, "I think she's meant for us. We have to go get her tonight. Right now."
And so we did.
A car ride and many strewn newspapers around a wire kennel later, "Wutwut" became Ponyo!
"How about Edna?" my husband asked.
"Edna? Enda?"... to no response.
"Edith? Elda?" My husband and I wanted older names. We wanted strong names. But I pursed my lips and looked down into those deep brown eyes and asked, "Ponyo?"
Suddenly, she looked up with ears cocked, questioning... curiosity. Promise.
"Honey, I think she likes Ponyo."
Smiling, my husband squeezed my hand. "Ponyo it is then."
(Ponyo is a special movie to us. ... I sang this song to her during her first weeks home, and I still do!)
How to train? How to train a dog so small? I had much to learn. And with winter in it's throes, how could I ask a dog so venerable to be outside?
"Pine shavings," the breeder finally said, "when she wasn't in the house, we kept her in a rabbit hutch."
So pine shavings it was. I demanded my husband build a 2'x3' box in which her training would begin.
And, like everything after, I was amazed at Ponyo's tenacity. Though she had accidents (all at my own fault. Who doesn't need to pee right in the morning?) she took immediately to the "box" and to "outside"... where her other packmates did their business.
Something should be said of Bear and Mercedes. A ragtag combination of my husbands impulses and my own, they've come together through their individual experiences to perform beautifully as a pack, with Bear and his bravery, and Mercedes and her undying need for performance. Complimenting each other, and Ponyo as the new "stimulation" and (really) raising the bar for intelligence and learning, I have the perfect stew for 100% love and challenge all at once.... from all angles!!!
Life with my chihuahua (since December, mind you) has been educational and MELTING. HEART BEAMING MELTING... and I'm a hard core trainer/groomer with 10 years handling/grooming under my belt. She has taught me there are new ways to train. New ways to be. I've owned many of the larger "more intelligent" breeds, but in these months Ponyo has put all of them to shame with her eagerness, her yearning, her intelligence and her spunk.
So... back to that moment. The moment when they ask for you. Unquestioningly.
Ponyo romps. Now that she's been in the pack for 2 months, she follows Mercedes who is the most dominant, who follows me. So, I love to let them out in the evenings after we get home from the grooming shop (after Ponyo comes home from work. She meets many dogs great and small at the grooming shop, and has much stimulation and socialization during her big BIG days!) A fresh snow blanketed the ground as I let my girls out for their mid-evening potty run. Ponyo runs. Oh, does she love to run. BUT: Her first winter! The snow! The cold! Mercedes the cocker has much fur on her feet, and pottied accordingly, but once I looked to Ponyo... she was paddycaking.
"Mom!" she seemed to exclaim, "My feet! The cold! Come save me!"
I ran immediately out to her, as she was attempting to be a chihuahua acrobat, attempting to hold all of her feet above the snow.
Oh, my baby.
Once I brought her in, she immediately peed in her pine shavings box (which we had trained rigorously for her to use)... and I was proud. And she was thankful.
I love my little chihuahua. I'm so proud of her. She is so brave and tenacious and intelligent. And we have many years ahead of us.