Michael Baugh, CPDT-KA, CDBC
Looks aren’t everything, but they count. And, for the record, size does matter.
Stewie is cute, and Stewie is small. If he were a beast of lesser aesthetic value or greater mass, he’d be in trouble, maybe dead, or worse.
He’d just dodged death when I met him. Death might have been a Dodge, in fact, or a Chrysler. Whatever it was, it had passed, and Stewie had made it across the street. It was raining. Stewie was pathetic, and helpless, and adorable. What happened to you little guy, I said. He looked up, wide-Chihuahua-eyed, soaked and trembling the length of his Dachshund body. I’ll take you home.
He was good at first, good in a magical way, good in a too-good-to-be-true way. He was cute too, and small, so small. He took a bath that first night, ate a meal, and burrowed under the covers to pass the night with me. What a find.
The jumping isn’t a big deal really. It’s the claws, just shy of being garden rakes that are a big deal. Trimming them is a big deal too, a big, ugly, dramatic deal. The little puddle in the bathroom wasn’t a big deal either. The pile in the entry way was (both times), and much bigger than you’d expect from such a dog, so cute and small. Chewing a bone anywhere near our other dog is a big deal, too, a big nasty deal. These are all problems you can manage with crate training. The crate is a big deal, an ear-splitting, crying, like from the gates of hell big deal. Baby gate? Climbed it. Pooped again. What a find.
Another thunderstorm rolls in, and Stewie burrows under the pillows on the sofa next to me. He shakes, and I stroke his back. He’s so cute, so small. What happened to you? I can only guess. No one taught him how to survive humans, unseemly and uncaring, despite our clever large brains. Eventually, the cuteness wore off. The problems were too big. He ended up on the street, wet and terrified in a storm, inches from death. That’s how I imagine it.
Then, he found me, slunk into my car, burrowed beneath my covers and into my heart. I wonder for a moment about the others, the under-bite dogs with dark faces, the ones not-so-small, the mud-pawed jumpers and the shedders. What happens to them? Who saves them from the storm? Who teaches them that some of us are okay, clever but still kind?
Originally posted in October 2010. 2022 updates: Stewie’s behavior issues were resolved within his first year. He is now a delightful old dog, still so full of life. Though he appeared, at first, to be a Chihuahua – Dachshund mix, he is actually 50/50 Chihuahua – Cocker Spaniel.