Penny the Pretty Purebred Chihuahua
A few weeks ago, the future wasn’t looking so bright for my beloved elderpin Scooby.
He’s on an upswing for now, and I’m grateful. I’m also incredibly humbled by the concern and kindness expressed by longtime friends I and friends I know only through this blog. You are all so awesome.
My friend Katie was one of the people who reached out – with a bag of easy-on-an-old-dog-stomach kibble. She has met Scooby many times; she sold me my house; and she knows what it’s like to love a very tiny dog.
Katie lost her 13-year-old Chihuahua Lucy a few months ago. The following interview is about her new pipsqueak Penny.
Did you always know you would get another Chihuahua?
Yes — we talked about options for another dog. I have really bad allergies so that put a limit on certain breeds. But I’ve always been a small-dog-person and we decided that we knew what to expect with Chihuahuas after our time with Lucy. So it just made sense. I honestly can’t imagine having another breed right now.
You didn’t get another dog right away. How did you know when it was time?
I never thought I would be able to get another dog. Lucy was so special. I call her my soul mate. There was no way another dog would be able to fill her place or be as special … and we talked about how it wouldn’t be fair to another dog, if we were always comparing it to Lucy.
The house was SO empty. Our hearts felt empty. We did everything to stay busy and stay out of the house because it was just so sad and empty. We went on walks, car rides, out to eat as much as possible, different events around town. Anything to keep our minds off things.
We cried a lot too. Sometimes at predictable moments, other times completely out of the blue. Maybe around the beginning of August, we started talking about “what if we found a dog that felt *right*?” and decided that we would keep an open mind but it had to be just right.
On a few occasions I found myself searching online for puppies and looking at the pet store adoption center. One dog caught my eye, and I convinced Ben to visit the adoption center the next day during their open hours. There was no connection with that dog, though, so we left.
A few weeks later, I randomly came across a breeder’s website and saw Penny’s picture. Oh my gosh. She looked smart. I had told Ben, if we got another dog I really wanted it to be a smart dog. After sitting awhile and getting nervous, I sent an email to the breeder that night, asking if that dog was still available. He called me the next morning and patiently answered all my questions about the puppy, her parents, known health issues, his location, etc etc. We set up an appointment to see her in person. When we got there, I walked in the room and Penny made immediate eye contact with me.
There were a few other puppies playing around her and they were all oblivious to the fact we were there. But Penny connected. We held her, watched her, talked to him, etc but then left her there so we could talk to each other and be really sure that it was the right thing.
We decided to go out to eat to have this discussion and on the way to the restaurant a double rainbow appeared in the sky. It felt crazy but it was a definite sign that Lucy was sending to us. She was saying, it’s okay, you need this puppy, I’m sending her to you! We went back the next day and brought Penny home with us.
Was it challenging at all to adjust to a new dog with a different personality?
Oh. My. Gosh. I forgot what it was like to have a puppy. Lucy was so independent and trustworthy. Puppies are not! I don’t know how something so small can poop and pee as much as she did the first few months. And she got into everything. Everything. We have to keep a close eye on her.
Penny is still a puppy, so I’m sure she will continue to mature and become more responsible. But we can’t let her roam around the house like we let Lucy. She truly gets into as much as she can, the second we look away. But in the last couple months she has really started to mellow out and show us what a great dog she is — she is smart, albeit sneaky at times – and ridiculously loving.
She gives actual hugs, where she wraps her front paws around your neck. And the best kisses. She has this hilarious way of “army crawling” where she stretches her front legs out far in front of her and her back legs sprawl out like frog legs and she wiggles her way into where she wants to go.
She has some similarities to Lucy, I’m sure because its breed-related, but sometimes we take it as those “signs from Lucy that she sent us Penny.” Penny is also quite a bit more needy than Lucy was — she cries (loud!) if we leave her at home in her kennel. She put a cramp on our social lives for awhile because we didn’t ever want to leave her. And she is vocal. While Lucy never barked, Penny has made up for those lost barks. She likes to talk to the neighborhood, letting everyone know “HEY! I’m outside!” And she groans and growls at us if we try to reposition her when she is resting. She is hilarious.
How is Penny different from Lucy?
The vocal part is the biggest difference. Penny talks ALL the time. She will whine a little bit if she wants something, she groans as she settles in and gets into a comfortable resting position. And she will bark at anybody/everybody walking nearby. We are working on that. We tell her it’s rude. I firmly believe she will get better about the barking.
Penny likes car rides – but she pukes. Every. Single. Time. Which is a bummer for me because I really loved taking Lucy along with me as much as possible. I have to keep car rides with Penny to a minimum. And I always, always take a blanket or towel to catch the puke. I learned that trick quickly.
Penny has helped you through some trying situations already. Can you talk about how having her there has been good?
Yes she has — Ben had a terrible accident about a month after we brought Penny home. He was hospitalized for nine days, followed by a long recovery at home (plus a second recovery period from surgery after getting home). My parents took care of Penny while we were stuck in the hospital. As soon as we got home, we wanted her around though. She would lay quietly next to Ben, as if she was taking care of him. It was odd, but somehow there was a noticeable change in her maturity level after the accident.
She continues to keep a watchful eye over both of us.