It was a blustery Sunday in early January 2001 when the phone rang and my daughter said “Mom, I found you a toy chihuahua.” I didn’t have to ask where, knowing that she was the adoptions supervisor for the Humane Society. I had asked her to keep her eyes open for a chihuahua, a toy or teacup; I had wanted one all my life. So it surprised her when I said, “Oh, honey, now is not a good time. I start my new job tomorrow and I am in the middle of laundry and generally getting things ready.” “Mom, you have to come get this dog. He’s so cute, only 3 lbs.” Again, the spiel about why I can’t interrupted this time by her blurting out, “MOM! They are going to put him down if you don’t adopt him. He’s already been adopted and brought back three times. He won’t eat; he growls all the time, and he bites people.” Now, for most people that would have been the ultimate turn-off, but all I heard was that they were going to put him down. “Rebecca,” I asked, “what makes you think that he will do any better for me?” As she answered me, I grabbed my keys and headed to the car. On the drive there, I thought about all the little dogs I had loved and lost; I just hoped this little guy would take to me, if not, I couldn’t take him home, I really didn’t have time to be a treatment foster care mom!!
My daughter was at her desk when I arrived at the shelter; she was busy helping someone else, so she waved me back into the office. I started to look in the other rooms to see if I could see this 3 lb. terrorist, but all I saw were pit bulls and golden retrievers. I’ve never understood how people could abuse animals, or let them go. I had a friend once who decided she couldn’t take care of her cat and she had it put to sleep. I was angry. At least she could have put him up for adoption. I know that she thought she was being responsible, but I can’t tolerate abuse.
Rebecca finished with her customers and joined me at the doorway to the shelter; she said “Now, Mom, don’t be too disappointed if he doesn’t like you right away. He has been mean to everyone who has adopted him. His original owners brought him in because he was terrorizing their children. And everyone who has adopted him has had to bring him back for similar reasons. I thought he might be okay with you since you don’t have small children. He hasn’t been eating and he looks pretty bad.” Not the best sales job in the world, but she knows what a sap I am when it comes to dogs.
She motioned me toward a chair, told me to wait while she went to get the dog; she brought him out in a little tiny cage; and slowly opened the door, and then she backed away. It was funny to see my daughter scared of a three pound pup, she’s the one who handles pit bulls all day long. The cage door opened, and this little black nose edged its way out; then came the rest of the little body; finally the tail, which was decidedly NOT wagging; never a good sign. He looked around; measured his odds of a run for it and jumped up onto my lap. (Where incidentally, he has pretty much been ever since.
I started to pet him and he snuggled down on my lap like he belonged there; we never had a moment’s problem. I signed papers, paid money and went home. Rebecca had told me that no one could get him to eat so that was a huge concern. When I got to the house, I placed a bowl of dog food on the kitchen floor, and he immediately went to chowing down. Where was the little monster Rebecca had described? Had she accidentally switched to dogs? This guy was a delight.
Until…he met the other two dogs who live in the house. Bandit is a docile, pomeranian-chihuahua mix and Chopper is a laid back poodle chihuahua mix. They have lived with me for 7 and 6 years respectively. The little black dog, who had a nmae i didn’t like, began to bark at them and chase them; they would bark back, but he didn’t back down. He jumped up on the couch, first in my lap, and then to my shoulder and began cursing at them in dog language (I can speak dog language, you understand.) He was so funny, this little dog who was 1/2 the size of the other two, acting as if it were his house and they were the interlopers. I realized that he reminded me of Tinkerbell, hovering around Peter Pan and giving Wendy what for; so his name was to become Tinkerbell. Sometimes he was called Tink; or Tinker, and sometimes even Stinkerbell; but he was always called my baby, and I loved him with all my heart.
He still didn’t like children, or anyone besides me for that matter; when someone came to the house, he would try to nip their ankles; I soon learned I would have to cage him when I had company if I wanted to have any friends.
September 9, 2001