Chihuahuas run in my family.
Yes, I have lost my mind. In my defense, there wasn’t all that much to lose anyway.
Before the little stinkers became vogue as the result of Hollywood airheads toting them around in their Louis Vuitton bags, they were the official lap dog of older Southern women.
Yep, close your eyes and think of a front porch draped in hanging baskets and carpeted with fraying astro turf. It’s about 98 degrees and there is an older lady sitting in a rocking chair sporting a house dress, slip-on terrycloth slippers, cat eye glasses secured to her person by an eyeglass necklace and poufy white hair. The smell of fried chicken is wafting out through the screen door. Okay, now take a look in her lap.
What is that satellite-eared ball of fur? Is it a bat? It doesn’t have wings. Is it a meerkat? Eh, those are more likely spotted in Africa instead of the Southern states. Is it a Gremlin? Well, you’re getting warmer, but I do feel duty-bound to tell you that Steven Spielberg’s little varmint creations are still—thus far—believed to be the imaginative characters of a creative mind.
It is a Chihuahua. It’s probably as fat as a little sausage with either snaggleteeth or its tongue hanging out the side of its mouth as the result of missing teeth. If you mustered up the courage to look the thing in the eye, you would notice that it is quite bug-eyed with the eyes likely shooting off in different directions. Ten to one odds that it also snorts when it breathes.
The little stinker looks perfectly harmless—yet disturbing—as it lays curled up into a tight little ball in the lap of its mistress, but if you are interested in keeping all ten fingers, you’d best just let it lie.
My Great-Grandmother Agnes had one of those little boogers when she was alive. No one in the family can seem to recollect its name, but they remember the dog itself as though it was only yesterday. Trauma tends to burn things into your mind. Grandma Agnes would sit at her house in Inman, South Carolina with her little Chihuahua on her lap. Grandma was known to flash a sly smile and say, “Oh, go ahead and pet him.” When the unsuspecting victim got his or her hand within reaching distance of the little terror, it would immediately transform into this snarling and vicious devil that suddenly seemed a lot bigger than it actually was. Grandma Agnes would just cackle.
So, Devil Dog was the Chihuahua on my dad’s side of the family, but there was a little precious on my mom’s side as well: Wendy. All you have to do is say Wendy’s name around Dad and he starts twitching and cursing a blue streak. Wendy liked everyone—except Dad. For some unknown reason, small dogs don’t take very well to my father. Thanksgivings at my aunt’s house usually results in her two fluffy little white dogs attaching themselves to the hems of his pants and only detaching when he walks out the door.
Anyway, Wendy the Chihuahua would hide behind the couch when Dad came to pick Mom up for a date. The second Dad got a foot in the door, Miss Wendy would shoot out from behind the couch, bite Dad on the leg with the apparent strength of a crocodile and race back under the couch so that she couldn’t be throttled.
Dad loves to tell the story about the time he went to pick Mom up for a date only to find Mom in tears because Wendy was missing. Dad had to spend his “hard earned gas money” driving around and looking for her. To those of you who are mildly curious: Wendy was located safe and sound. Dad was thrilled.
Enter Desdemona Muffetts Council (Desdemona was one of the two women that Jimmy Buffett ever named in song and Baby Belle 1 said “Muffetts” instead of “Buffett”). The little stinker is six pounds of fire and fury. She barks at a pitch that should shatter glass and she barks at everything. She barks when “strangers” come in the house and, if they leave a room and come back in, she barks like they were first walking in. We blame her tiny little brain for its inability to store memory—the same reason we can’t seem to train her on an electric fence. She is also very hostile toward dogs and doorbells on the television—and she loathes the Dog Whisperer with every fiber in her tiny little being.
As far as Desi is concerned, she is a 100 pound Rottweiler. She chased a 6’3” UPS man across our yard and he was really running for his life in spite of the gardeners next door wetting themselves with hysterical laughter. Our other dog, Lola (the second woman in JB’s songs) has at least forty pounds on Desi and, when the two of them get into a tug of war, Lola thrashes Desi left and right and a determined Desi dangles mid-air. Desi always wins.
In one very traumatizing incident, Desi clamped onto my husband’s nose during a round of spirited play. Desi looked Death in the face that day.
Desi drives me slap dab crazy and I will cuss up a storm about her, but the little booger has worked her way into my heart in one respect: The Baby Belles. As I’m sure you can imagine, Chihuahuas as a breed don’t particularly gel with kids. Desi gets dressed in outfits, wrapped in baby burritos and toted all over the house and she’s never snapped at the girls once—she just gets this kind of resigned look on her face. Additionally, when Baby Belle 2 joined the family, Desi was fascinated with her. A pack of ill-tempered Dobermans couldn’t have guarded her bassinette better.
Hey, I recognize when I’m beat. Chihuahuas: South of the Border and South of the Mason-Dixon line.
Endele and Yee Haw.