How it all began
Our experiences with Chihuahuas began in the early 1980s when we were asked to take in a tiny scrap of a dog whose mother was a Chihuahua and father, unknown. A jet black scrawny little dog with the most happy disposition, loving everyone who came near him - strangers, family and friends, without showing any signs of favouritism.
This tiny little dog, Sasha One, was destined to live for the very short time of eight months, three of which were with us. However, we believe he had completed his purpose in this life: he had convinced Rita and Mayer that the Chihuahua breed of dog was something very special, and our lives were never to be the same again!
The sorrow and grief after the little fellow's death led us into searching for another Chihuahua, not to replace Sasha One, but to fill the devastating vacuum of our empty nest.
Reading advertisements and phoning breeders was our next move. Finally we took a 200 km trip to the country to a breeder who had little Chihuahuas all over the yard. One little bright eyed chappie was crouched in the corner, vigilantly wary, wondering and watching these massive animals check out all his little brothers and sisters. He decided he better tell us off: woof, grrr, woof in a miniature bark and growl, up onto his feet and the whole twelve inches of this majestic puppy strode towards us. He was the most beautiful little fellow, all golden and fluffy, with a white stripe from the crown of his head almost to the tip of his nose, and such a self righteous attitude!
We called him Boxley, and in those very first days we were severely tested by this baby puppy. He decided he did not like the upheaval from his four legged family, and he certainly did not trust these two legged creatures. As a result, he simply would not eat. There came the first of many trips to the vet, and a small fortune was paid out. At the time Boxley was only eight weeks old: he was so small he could sit in a regular teacup and still have room to move. So you can imagine our worry when he would not eat!
Boxley gave us so much love, fun, joy, pleasure and happiness - along with the stress and worry over his disobedience. Oh yes, we took him to obedience classes - and he got expelled from three! In the end we decided to just love him and put up with the bad patches. He took over our bed, our lounge chairs, our kitchen, and we carefully stepped around him. Those he loved, he loved devotedly and totally.
Our experiences with Sasha One and Boxley led us into voluntarily doing Chihuahua Rescue which, to this day, gives us such satisfaction.
Chihuahua Rescue is a vital necessity these days and is a very costly exercise - not too many people realise this. Maree Turner started the Sunshine Animal Welfare Centre in 1946. She saw a need to specialise with rescued Chihuahuas twenty years later and continued this work voluntarily until 1995 when she became quite ill and unable to continue this service to the community. Mayer and I took over.
The very first rescue
The phone call came through. "I have found a little female Chihuahua running loose on the street. We would love to keep her as she is a real little darling, but I am pregnant and due any day now. We think it might not be wise to have a new baby and a new dog coming into the home at the same time."
Despite an empty fuel tank we did not hesitate. We hopped in the car and headed for Mornington. There we met a really tiny Chihuahua, scared almost to death by the sight of strangers! We took this baby home and straight to the vet to see if she was healthy enough to be put with our own Chihuahuas. This little dog sat for a week on the doggy doona and would not play with the others. The only joy she showed was when I came to her and picked her up. As she would not eat, there followed a period of trying out so many different options until we found what worked for her. Only chicken fillet, if you don't mind! She would only eat and drink while sitting on my lap, but was not terribly interested in anything else. After a week she was beginning to take the other dogs' food which we cooked for the Chihuahuas with beef, vegetables and rice. She decided she would sleep in our bed. She had very obviously been treated as a close companion by someone. Her name was Honey.
She was a delightful, happy little dog with a cheeky little face. She was very small (1.5 kg), with pale golden long hair: she was gorgeous. Advertisements were placed in the local newspapers and there was no response - what else is new? Three weeks after picking her up we received a phone call from Lynette at the Mornington Pound to say someone was advertising in the paper that their Chihuahua was lost. I called the number and the lady described her Chihuahua. Chihuahua Rescue's main aim is to return lost dogs to their rightful owners. In this case my heart almost broke! We had become so entranced with this tiny little girl that we began to hope no one would claim her back.
Continuing the work
We have become only too well aware of how much it costs to rescue one of these little dogs. Only those prepared to give a great deal should even contemplate this exercise. Some of the costs involved in rescuing one of these little babies are the never ending vet fees for check ups, neutering, immunising and correcting any other thing that may be wrong with the animal. There are the phone calls, petrol and car expenses involved with picking them up and delivering them. Worm and flea treatments and never ending food bills to pay. No money is recouped when we place these little dogs for adoption apart from the vet bills. All other costs are at our own expense. We feel that the love and joy they give to us when they find themselves comfortable, well fed and secure is more than enough compensation!
Over the years, we have seen many hardened hearts and calloused attitudes that have resulted in so many Chihuahuas in need of rescue. Our eternal gratitude goes to the many generous and open hearted people we have encountered that balance this out: people willing to give and support this worthy cause. There are many satisfactions and heartbreaks but we would not give it away. Chihuahua Rescue to the rescue!
Chihuahua Rescue Victoria is a non-profit organisation. The advertisement below supports us directly.