Saturday, February 1, 2014

I have a confession. I have a six pound dog and she wears sweaters. There are the two hound's-tooth acrylic turtlenecks, the pink fleece “horse” blanket (we call it her My Little Pony look), a fleece lined turquoise plaid rain coat, a Santa jacket with pom-pommed hoodie. Our friends even brought a four-footied pink coat back from Eastern Europe with some perplexing ESL text on the back (“Hopping to see a world,/A heaven in a wild fower,/Hold infinity in the plam of your hand,/And Eternity/In an Hour.”

I have another confession. I have two other chihuahuas as well, mixes, and they have sweaters too. And two of them had matching outfits until one got too fat, little sausage in her sweater casing. O, Madam Plumpiness, Georgie.

How did this happen? I blame two things: 1. My job 2. My softening, near middle-aged heart. As a vet, I came across all three of the little ladies: one in a hoarder rescue operation, and two from a local rescue, who came into the clinic. The first, Wrennie, is a probable Chi-terrier, and it was love at first exam. I was volunteering to help evaluate and document the 400 dogs seized in a cruelty case. Wren came to my station in mere randomness, and the minute I put my hands on her, she turned and licked my hand. The second dog, George Eliot, came into the clinic for a pregnancy check-up. She was rescued from Milwaukee and was knocked up. She waddled out of her carrier, and that was that: O, you sassy Chi-weenie. Number three was in foster for six months because she had dry eye, could not make tears, and needed eye drops 2-3 times a day. I kept running into her foster mom since her house was in my neighborhood dog walking loop, and my heart would teeter every time I saw Coco. But I was strong, until Julie said she was moving to Florida, and would I take little C?

Chibi before leaving the shelter for foster.

Lord, I did. We renamed her Chibi, and the first time I walked her on her pink string of a leash, I was embarrassed. I mean, she was minute, you could barely feel her on the end of the leash, and people stared. And smiled.

My first dog in my early 20’s was an 80 pound lab cross, love of my life, who lived 14 gentle years. Then the dogs kept getting smaller: Taiko, 55 lbs, Gracie, 30 lbs, then Wren (13), George (11), and finally Chibi.

I am smitten, I have lost my mind. I drive with Chibi zipped inside my coat.

My friends who knew Ouzel, the first dog, ask me: What happened? How is this possible? Julie, the foster mom, said chihuas are clannish, that they do better in groups. I scoffed, I laughed. But she is right. Look at the first picture, for god’s sake.

Thank you, Julie.

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