Last night when I went in my daughter’s bedroom to kiss her goodnight before I went to sleep myself, I saw something moving under the covers. It was the Chihuahua who was cuddled up with her and very, very comfortable. This is remarkable, because since she was very young, I tried to find a pet for her to bond with. Since we had four pets at the time of her birth and cared for a few dozen other during her four years of growing, it shouldn’t have been difficult. But nothing clicked until the Chihuahua came home.
What makes the nighttime cuddling remarkable is the Chihuahua himself, a 4-pound white terror with the face of an angel and the temperament of Tasmanian devil. I adore senior dogs, and about this time last year our adopted Boxer Rosie passed away – breaking my heart and leaving me with only one dog, something that makes me twitchy. However, we wound up fostering a cat who had given birth outside in the cold and made a commitment to her and the babies until adoption. Once they had all found their forever homes (except mom, who is still here), the house seemed quiet – as quiet as can be with a dog, a 3-year-old and three cats.
So, on my birthday, I gave myself the gift of a senior foster dog. Stuart was tiny and old, emaciated and shivering. Huddled in the back of his kennel, he certainly needed some TLC. I knew it would be easy to find him a home once he felt better. We are a big dog family; we loved our Boxer and our pit bulls, and that’s obviously what our next dog to “keep” would be, so being able to find a good home for Stuart was important. Also, since her experience was with big and friendly dogs, I had to explain to my daughter, who was eagerly awaiting our new arrival, the potentially sensitive nature of Chihuahuas. She would need to give him space so he wasn’t scared, he may not like children and, even when she could touch him, she would need to be very gentle.
When he bit me as I was trying to get him into my car, I should have known … but he was given a free pass and brought home, set up comfortably and introduced to the family. After that bite, I warned my daughter to be extra careful. She sat on the floor a distance away and called him to see if he would come. He launched himself across the room and flew into her lap, frantically wiggling and wagging his tail, and kissing her all over. And that’s it … that’s pretty much how the past several months have gone.
My husband, myself and any other adults are fair game for a snap and a bite if we request something with which he doesn’t agree. Growling is frequent, and I swear this dog knows how to give dirty looks when he is forced to go potty outside and the weather isn’t acceptable. But my child can carry him around; he cuddles with her, plays outside with her and generally just adores her. And it is a mutual sentiment. When describing her pets, you will always hear about “my little buddy Stuart – but he’s a Chihuahua so you gotta watch out!”
While she understands that fostering is a way for us to help animals to their forever homes, it’s hard to ignore the bond that has developed between the two. And for that reason, Stuart has remained here. How could I send
away the dog who wakes out of a dead sleep in his bed to follow me into her room to check on her late at night? While he’s certainly not the big dog we wanted, he’s currently filling a big spot in our family by being my girl’s little buddy.