Everything Important I Learned in Life, I Learned From My Chihuahua...
This is him, Peek-A-Boo, my long-haired Chihuahua who is convinced he is a person and therefore exempt the limits we have imposed on our other pets. AKA the most spoiled dog in the
So, in a very large nutshell, here are my Chihuahua Life Lessons
1. Sometimes it’s ok to lie
Ok, let me just get this out there: I litter box trained my Chihuahua. Most people I know think this is weird; I personally think it’s genius (if I do say so myself!) At least for a chihuahua…I mean, if you had a big dog, that would probably end up being a disgusting mess…but Peek is a tiny little squirt of a dog. Cleaning his litterbox wasn’t any more disgusting than cleaning a cat box. And it meant I didn’t have to go out in the middle of the night, or when it was really cold….or, let’s be honest, when the vodka bottle sang its siren song a little louder than usual.
My training methods were simple: I bribed him with food. He began making “I have to go to the bathroom” moves, I put him in the litter box, and if he did his business there, gave him a treat. It didn’t take him long to figure out the connection.
And then he began to lie.
He began running to the litter box any time he wanted a treat—and he wanted a LOT of treats. He’d run over, jump in, and start barking until I came over to investigate. When I refused to give him a treat—on the grounds that he hadn’t done anything—he would even lift his leg. He wouldn’t pee, he’d just raise his leg in the air and bark a few more times...like he was saying “Listen, treat lady, I’m going through the motions here—throw a dog a bone!”
A situation not helped by the fact that I usually gave in.
2. It’s Important To Express Your Emotions
Considering my training methods (and the number of treats I gave Peek for “looking so darn cute”), it should come as no shock to anyone that he got a little chubby. To be perfectly honest, chubby might be an understatement. Fatty-boombalatty, as round as he was tall, el porko dog might be a touch more accurate.
Which the vet finally felt compelled to point out. “He needs to lose 2 pounds,” he said sternly during one of our annual checkups.
“Two pounds is NOTHING,” I retorted.
“It’s 25% of his entire body weight!’ The vet snapped back. “It would be like if I told you that you had to lose 25 pounds.”
Which, honestly, was a really kind analogy on his part.
Anyway, I started Peek on diet dog food the next day.
He hated it. And to make sure I knew how much he hated it, he made a huge production
of going over to the litter box and spitting mouthfuls of the new dog food inside. As if to say, “This stuff tastes like shit.”
Clearly, it was a battle of wills…and, because I understand how awful diet food can be, it was a battle he won. I switched him back to his old food, gave him half the usual serving and then filled his bowl with green beans. It took a little longer that way but it worked.
3. Money Is No Object
About 2 ½ years ago, Peek collapsed after his yearly shots. We went to the vet, had his annual check up, and as we were walking to the car, he collapsed in the parking lot.
Since I am not the type of person who handles a crisis well, I picked him up and ran screaming back into the office. In retrospect, it was a lot like an episode of ER—a couple of vets came shooting out of different offices, they grabbed him out of my arms and I couldn’t stop shrieking insane orders like “You fix this right now, you understand me? Fix my dog!” Then, when they wouldn’t let me in the exam room, I called my finace Opie and basically started hyperventilating.
I bet that was lovely for the ten or twelve other patients in the office at the time.
In any case, I learned later that he had had some sort of reaction to one of the shots and his heart had stopped. They did manage to revive him but suggested I take him to a canine cardiologist to get to the bottom of the heart issue.
That’s right, a canine cardiologist.
And don’t feel bad if you didn’t even know there was such a thing; I had to tell my mom 3 times before she would believe that they existed and that I was going to take Peek in.
“What does Opie think of all this?” she asked.
I had no idea...so I decided it would probably be a good idea if I called him and discussed the financial aspect of this situation…since we were getting married and combining finances, I said, we should probably come to some sort of agreement about how much we were willing to spend to keep one middle-aged dog alive.
“Ok,” he agreed.—sounding surprised that I was being so rational.“That’s probably a good idea.”
“I think five thousand,” I said firmly. “What do you think?”
And, to his credit, he didn’t immediately hang up. “Is it going to be five thousand?” He asked.
“I don't know,” I said. “I didn’t ask. Because I don’t care.”
“Let’s just wait and see what the cardiologist says,” he decided bravely.
And it wasn’t five thousand…but it wasn’t cheap…but I still don’t care.
4. Size Doesn’t Matter
When we got married, Opie and I worried about how his half-Rottweiler, Bubba, would get along with Peek. Especially since Bub is about 7 times the size of Peek…which would matter if Peek realized that he, himself, is a dog. He doesn’t. He thinks he’s a grumpy old man in a fur suit. I mean, he’s glad I got him a dog…but he wants to make sure that he runs a tight ship. And his first rule is “No dogs on the furniture.”
So, whenever he gets up on the couch, he makes sure to keep a close eye on Bubba. And if poor Bub puts so much as one toenail on a cushion, Peek is over in his face barking and growling and backing him off. And Bubba always leaves because he knows that Peek isn't intimidated their size difference AT ALL.
5. Knowledge Is A Blessing And A Curse
On October 17th, our vet told us it was time to start preparing for the worst. Peek is quickly approaching 13 and is in the final stages of congestive heart failure…and-although he’s not in any pain—he is slow and tired and on a shocking amount of medicine. The vet said he probably only had about a week or so live.
That was months ago and as I write this blog, he is lying on the floor of the shower (weird, I know, but it’s where he likes to sleep) snoring away. I call him Peek the Amazing Miracle Dog and I’m grateful for every day I get with him. I know I’m blessed to have this time, to have a warning that the end is near and to use the time to spoil him even more than usual…but I’m terrible at letting go, and I spend part of each day torturing myself by looking for signs that he might be getting better…and every day he’s with me tells me how much harder it’s going to be let go.
So it’s a blessing and a curse…but he’s worth it.
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