Aside from the Kindle Fire, one of the most fun gifts in our family this year was the toy cockroach I gave my Mom. We lived in Florida when I was a kid, and I knew she’d appreciate its realism. (She said it gave her goosebumps all up the backs of her legs.)
We were at my parents’ house for Christmas, and I hoped their cat, Lily, would chase after it. But in the manner of most cats, she knew it wasn’t alive and ignored it entirely.
It was very realistic. I was once chased the length of our Florida kitchen by a palmetto bug flying at head height, so it was difficult to stand still when the toy first came buzzing toward me.
But by the end of the day, we became pretty inured to the ick factor.
I did a search on Petfinder.com for Chihuahuas up for adoption in my area, and found two that looked promising, both from RMPR.
So I drove to the Northglenn Petsmart, where the adoption event was being held. There must have been 25, 30 people there. Amazing, because these dogs are not going for a song. That said, RMPR is clearly a first-class organization, and the members foster dogs until they are fine canine citizens. Still, I was surprised that many people are willing to pay extra for knowing a lot about a prospective pet. Here I thought the economy was bad. Not when it comes to furry friends.
The event was a well-oiled machine, even with that many people. You fill out paperwork (I had filled mine out in advance, then left it on the kitchen table). They have a fosterer interview you (usually the one who fostered the dog in which you have an interest), and then you have a timed visit with the dog in a pen. With some dogs they also require a visit to your home before they make a decision. Others were being taken home right then, to much cheering and applause. It was a little like winning a game show.
Olivia and Gidget were in the same pen. I looked down, Gidget looked back, and then she started barking like I had PISSED HER OFF. Maybe I should have broken eye contact to get her to stop, but I learned a long time ago not to break eye contact with pets – it’s a submissive gesture. While Gidget was barking up a storm, one of the volunteers explained that she doesn’t do that at home. Probably nervous aggression, or maybe she didn’t like my hair and was calling me a dirty hippie. Meanwhile, Olivia laid there, all mellow. When I leaned down to offer my hand, Olivia and Gidget both came over, but Gidget pushed Olivia out of the way a little and also kept barking. I marked Gidget off my list. Later I saw her with a man, having a grand old time and being perfectly adorable. Maybe she doesn’t like chicks.
They had a lot of people to process. While I waited, a very nice couple had their visit with Olivia. They cuddled up a storm with her and announced their intention of getting her if they could. Maybe they have small kids and will be disqualified, I thought. Maybe they live in a swamp. But I got better. If they’re good people for her, so be it.
I had my interview with Benedict, who was clearly a stellar dog fosterer and also had a fantastic ‘stache. Well done. Then I had my visit with Olivia. She was a darling, and that picture does NOT do her justice. I asked if she wanted to sit on my lap. She did. She also wanted to give me kisses and lick the inside of my nose (ah, Chihuahuas). I spoke softly in her ear, ruffled her neck fur, and told her what a good girl she was, and she rolled and offered me her belly to rub.
One of the volunteers came over and said that the woman who fostered Olivia had developed a special relationship with her, so any potential adopters needed to have their home checked out. But this volunteer thought we were a good match – such a good match that she was sad when she found out that other people wanted Olivia. I told her they clearly loved Olivia very much, and I’m not in a hurry. Olivia’s foster mom is gonna call me. I’m going to tell her that if the other couple doesn’t have any kids or pets, Olivia should go with them. If she has the chance to be someone’s only baby, or hang out with other Chihuahuas, then she should. She is clearly special, although you can argue that all dogs are.
RMPR will do a home visit with me anyway, so I’ll be set if the right dog comes along (and no one else wants it). They also don’t know how Olivia does with cats. There is a 7-day return policy, but you hate to put a dog through that.
It’s a difficult situation. I want a Chihuahua, but I don’t want Musette’s happiness to decrease. Ideally it would increase (she wants to be friends with other animals, if they want to be friends with her). Or they could ignore each other. That would be fine, too. She’s outside a lot of the time and there is plenty of love to go around. Anyway, I have connections in the Denver Chihuahua Meetup group now. They’ll probably find me some poor creature to foster that needs a person to build its confidence and a warm kitty to snuggle with.
When I got home, Musette greeted me with happy squeaks and rolled over so I could kiss her belly. Which I did.
I recently received an invitation to attend the Denver Chihuahua Meetup. Thank you, Jessica! Jessica found me through FB as an author, or maybe I found her as a Chi owner. Regardless, she won my heart forever by buying six of my books to give to friends. Seriously, I want to adopt this woman.
So on the Sunday after we got back from our vacation, I got my act mostly together and drove to Brighton, which has a lot of houses, horses and land, and not much else. To be fair, the horses and houses are both beautiful. The land was flat and covered with snow, so I can’t speak for it.
The Meetup was at Dianne’s house and was a potluck. I brought two bags of Lindor chocolate balls, because Angel Joe was putting up the tin backsplash in the kitchen. Or maybe he was installing drawer glides. Anyway, no cooking was going to happen, because he was busy doing other things, haha.
I got to Dianne’s house 15 minutes early and was met at the door by a sizable pack of Chihuahuas.
“Gosh, everyone must be very punctual,” I thought. Oh, no. Those dogs represented just three people’s pets. The main event was still to come, and before we were through, there were 45 dogs in that house. I’m not sure if that included the puppies in the stroller. Let me digress to say that I’m still thinking fondly of tiny Duke, a long-haired white morsel with black ears and a black patch on his back, who although the size of a dollar bill (and worth about 400 of them), gave me a doggy kiss on my fingers and sat on my lap observing the room.
You should marvel at my strength, ’cause I had a checkbook in my purse.
Speaking of licking, Chiahuahuas love to lick. They particularly love to lick your mouth and up your nose. Perhaps that’s why they’re reputed to be good for asthma. There’s no scientific evidence for that claim, but if you let them have their way, I’m pretty sure they’d rout out your sinuses. You can put on makeup for a Chihuahua Meetup, but you will leave with a pink, shiny nose.
Anyway, I made friends with every dog I could lay my eager hands on, and here are some of their names: Oscar (Jessica’s floofy boy), Tia (pure love), Moses (his hair color parted in the middle), Rhett Butler, Draco (a chubby, jolly redhead who is on a diet),
Angela (naked belly), Bonnie, Charlie (a girl described as “viscious” by the shelter, who only wanted to be in your lap), Poncho, Paco, Paulo (I think there was a Paulo), Iffy (seemed plenty okay to me), Olive Ann, Cricket, Ajax or Alex, Daisy (mom of the pups), Hershey, Lola (“my Queen”), Bobo, Benny and Bob. Violet was beautiful but skittish, in the manner of supermodels. I never got close to her. Harley had one eye, an underbite and a heart condition. He looked like a junkyard bulldog that shrunk in the wash, and was impossibly sweet.
I believe there were people there, too. Someone must have brought the Chihuahuas. I’m kidding. There were lovely people there.
Many of them mentioned a Chihuahua named Zoie who died two months ago. She was clearly much loved.
One of many things that fascinate me about Chihuahuas is how varied their colors, shapes and sizes are.
There were Chihuahuas who were related but looked nothing like each other. Humped backs, straight backs, rounded, bony like greyhounds,
long-haired, short-haired, hair so short the dog looked pink, rounded heads, curly tails,
straight tails, bushy tails when the rest of the dog was short-haired and sleek, stubby snouts, and long snouts like little crocodiles.
There were mixes, too, and one Chinese Chin who thought he was a Chihuahua.
Another thing that impresses is how well Chihuahuas get along. You have to wonder if they schooled like fish when they were in a more wild state. Several of these dogs had never been to a Meetup, some were rescues who hadn’t had much socialization, and it was wonderful to see them start playing with the other dogs. There were a few posturing contests by macho dogs, swiftly quashed by their owners. I would be interested to know how many breed Meetups there are. I’m having difficulty picturing a room full of bull terriers playing together, for example.
So that was my first experience with Chihuahuas en masse, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m determined to get my hands on Violet.
Just a reminder that I have a free Christmas story available, ‘Twas the Chihuahua Before Christmas.
I’ve been quoted in newspapers and on TV as saying that including Chihuahuas in my mystery series was a cold-blooded marketing decision, and I meant it – but not in the way you might think.
The internet is how we find things these days. Anyone can sell things on it, and almost everyone does. As an author, success depends on getting your writing into the hands of people who will enjoy it. You have to cut through the clutter of things clamoring for their attention and say, “Look at me. I’m what you want.” One of the easiest ways to do that is to find a place where your ideal readers are clumped together, and show them you can fill one of their unmet needs. “Excuse me, but is anyone writing fiction about this thing you love? No? Allow me to introduce myself.”
Ideally, an author’s hook should be lively and engaging, something that will add to the books’ tone. It’s even better if it doesn’t bore the general public. And wouldn’t it be great if it had authentic emotional content? It shouldn’t be done to death, or that whole “cutting through the clutter” benefit is lost. Most importantly, it needs to be something the author will enjoy writing about over the long haul. So I took a look at the various things I love: singing, playing guitar, cats, writing, Chihuahuas…hold on a minute. Only one of those things met all my criteria and then some. As a considerable side benefit, the characteristics of Chis, and the character of their owners, matches my writing style rather neatly – funny, mischievious, and very into people.
So yes, the decision to include a marketing hook in my books was cold-blooded, but Chihuahuas were there to be chosen because I am crazy about them. As a benefit, I get to own these dogs in my imagination, when my cat won’t let me in real life. Actually, she will, but she becomes a ghost in her own home. (I’ve tried and may try again.) When Musette dies, clearing my sinuses but breaking my heart, I’ll get a Chihuahua.
P.S. Years ago, before I knew what a marketing hook was, and just as I was getting into Chihuahuas, I wrote a book with one. It got me my agent and my first publisher, but has never been published. The problem, as all the complimentary rejection letters said, was that publishers didn’t know how to sell it. Well, I do, and as soon as I fix the ending and find a new title (the one I had was recently used for another book), I’ll publish it myself. Stay tuned.
P.P.S. You can experience my Chihuahua enthusiasm for free with the short story,‘Twas the Chihuahua Before Christmas. Am I giving away a Christmas story for marketing reasons? Of course. Did I love writing it and want everyone to read it regardless of whether they buy my books? Also yes.
UPDATE:I finally succumbed to my obsession and got a Chihuahua. And by golly, she’s kind of a ringer for the Chi at the top of this page!
I downloaded it and uploaded it to my Kindle to read last night. It was such a delightful read. It was nice because it was like getting to laugh along with old friends since I loved these characters in the first novel.
It’s a great short story and I recommend it for people who enjoy reading mysteries, laughing and of course who have a love for dogs (especially Chihuahuas).
You can read the full review here. And you can find Nikki’s very active Facebook page here. I’m on there all the time, to get my fix of cute dog pictures. Bebe is my favorite on most days, but the others give her a run for her money, especially Monte.
And if you’d like to read ‘Twas the Chihuahua Before Christmas, just click the cover.