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Monday, June 12, 2017

Dog Love IV

 
 
 

If a wall is going to be built on the Mexican border, it need not be taller than two feet, because as far as I understand, Chihuahuas will not be able to jump over it. To be clear, I don’t have anything against anyone who takes the risk of crossing the border into California without documentation in search of a better life; but I do have some serious reservations about Chihuahuas.

When you think about the quintessential dog, what image comes to mind? I bet you anything it’s not a Chihuahua. Maybe, like me, you see a German shepherd. Others might see a border collie, an English this or that, or a Siberian husky. But a Chihuahua? Is it even a dog?

Just being near one makes me jittery. That startled look in their eyes and their nervous energy stick to me like a piece of used chewing gum melting in the sun on the sidewalk. It takes me only five minutes near a Chihuahua to lose my cool. 

I have a friend who brings her Chihuahua mix on our nature walks. She says the dog needs to be walked in the outdoors. That’s fine with me, but…. this dog has really short legs. So it doesn’t walk. It kinds of runs alongside an average sized human. So on top of the ADHD sensation I get from being near it, I can’t help but feel sorry for this little thing that has to do a full-speed trot just to keep up with us.

And then she sees a squirrel.

Let me tell you this: nothing gets a Chihuahua more excited than a squirrel. Maybe because a squirrel is the only thing that’s smaller than she is. Maybe because in a past life she was actually a squirrel. Who knows? So she bolts out to the trail in blind excitement to catch the squirrel; or just bark at it. Whatever her Chihuahua brain tells her to do. Her tail shoots up in the air at a ninety degree angle and she disappears in the bushes.

And then, we humans who were until that moment enjoying a nature walk, have to stop and look for her. To make sure that this tiny ball of nerves doesn’t disappear into a squirrel tunnel or get kidnapped by a larger critter, like a coyote for example.

The first time it happens, I feel a little sympathy for my friend, who stops in her tracks and starts yelling the dog’s name—“Chiquita! Chiquita!”—in the hope of bringing her out of her squirrel-induced trance and back on the trail.

The fear of losing a dear one is familiar. It reminds me of the day I took my three-year old daughter to a store in San Francisco and suddenly I didn’t see her. Being in the middle of a big city, I did not dare scream her name, like my walking partner does every time she brings her dog on our nature walks. I just stood there, looking under the clothes racks, feeling the panic rise into my head and my heart sink to the bottom of my feet until I saw her after no more than two seconds. So I can empathize with a dog owner who screams the name of a tiny dog swallowed up by the bushes.

But the dog seems totally oblivious to the shouting. Maybe Chiquita’s Spanish is not that good. Maybe she resents her name. Maybe a big bad squirrel caught her. Maybe she is too far away to hear the shouting. Whatever the case, I start to lose patience and find myself hoping that a nature dweller did me a favor and snatched her, or that she fell into a squirrel tunnel and is never coming back.

I beg my friend to put the dog on a leash so we can walk more than two minutes at a time without stopping, but she laughs and says the dog is having fun. Yes, the dog is having fun. But I’m not. And that’s my point. As long as the dog is having fun, we human friends of dog people don’t matter.

So we keep walking, and stopping, and waiting for the stupid little thing to come back from its futile squirrel hunts and run by our side again, until it collapses from exhaustion, because remember, those tiny legs have to do a lot more work than we do to keep up the pace.

My friend picks her up from the ground and ties a leash around her neck. And then she keeps the dog in her arms, because Chiquita is too tired to walk. But she soon recovers and is back on the ground, allowed to run as far as the leash can stretch.

But my troubles are not over even when she is connected to a leash, because that hybrid Chihuahua is clueless. She thinks that just because she can bark, she can scare people we meet on the trail and their much, much bigger dogs. And I have to endure the embarrassment of being seen in the company of a mini-dog who indulges in delusions of superiority.

Where is that coyote when you need it?