Chihuahua Count

When out on the street, I can’t help but notice dogs. They pass by and I observe their gait. Or note their gear, whether the harness or collar is adequate to their size and walking style. I grit my teeth when I see a strong dog, collar damaging their windpipe as they pull on the lead. Attitudes fascinate me, too; I pay special attention to the rapport between the dog and their person. Sometimes dog-people scenes jump right out at me. I say this because, lately, I’ve been spotting quite a few men walking chihuahuas. Often exceptionally large men, the ones that leave huge ripples in their wake. I’d see bulky torsos and swaying shoulders, and then there, a meaty hand clutching a teeny lead onto which they attach a miniscule ball of pure attitude on four spindly legs. Fascinating.

It’s a jarring juxtaposition: ginormous and minikin, cumbrous and nimble, size 45 sneakers and pitter-pattering paws. After noting this repeatedly, I decided to put my observations to a to a test.  For one week I would record every chihuahua I saw. And the sex of the person holding the lead. I’d also note if the man was significantly proportioned or not. Put my theory under scientific scrutiny, so to speak.

The first few days were disappointing, for not one chihuahua crossed my sight. But on the third day I noted four chihuahuas, of which two were walking with men. On the fourth day I saw a few more, and then something I hadn’t bargained on: couples walking chihuahuas. Since I had no idea who the dog belonged to, I recorded which of the two, male or female, held the lead. By day seven I counted the tally: there was a tie between the sexes.  And no sizeable men among them!

The numbers were lower than I had originally expected, so I gave the experiment a few days more. Where were the large-sized, chihuahua-walking men I had so assiduously noted before? Perhaps more time would bring them outdoors. By day 10 I grew tired of the experiment and had to admit that my original premise was unfounded. I had seen seven women walking chihuahuas (two in the company of men) and eight men with the runts (three with a female companion). And not even one male was exceptionally large. So much for my theory.

Until two weeks after the street count, what do I see but a behemoth of a man with a miniscule chihuahua proudly strutting down the street. Oh well.


Saying a last goodbye to an old friend is tough. Words provide an awkward riff on a wounded heart. So, I’ll just ponder the delightful times we had. Shizuka was a little white dog, a mutt both quiet and demanding, timid and bold. She and I did things together—quite the variety of adventures. Here you’ll find a link to her acting job, playing the part of “fearful dog” in one episode of Fundación Affinity’s program “Mas Que Perros y Gatos”. Or look at a story about her that appeared in Dog Heart Magazine issue number 2. It highlights her astounding ability to wander off—thus accidentally or willfully separating herself from her people—and head home again safely. Except nine months ago when deaf, cloudy-eyed and with signs of dementia, her wandering got the better of her.  By chance, kind people read her dog tag and called us to pick her up at a farmhouse quite a distance over the mountain.

So many stories. But I hold them close. At the very end she stopped wagging her tail and looked up at me as if to ask, “Hey, what am I doing here?” So, I gave her the succor she needed, and a gentle veterinarian helped me do it. Farewell Shizuka. Gone, but not forgotten.