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When You Choose New Family

In May I unexpectedly lost one of my chihuahuas. Louis was an independent little soul, and he came into my life seven years ago with a big attitude and a strong desire to be left to his own devices.

Louis, center, with Jake (left) and Chelsea (right). My sturdy little guy.

Between Jake with his incessant health problems and Chelsea with her overwhelming personality issues, I came to consider Louis my utility dog. Didn’t need a lot of attention, didn’t cause a lot of problems, and likely to be the background noise in my life for a long, long time.

When his heart unexpectedly failed I was devastated. Both because I felt as if I should have paid more attention to his symptoms (chihuahuas are prone to heart problems, I’d been through it with two others before him.) and because it was just so sudden. One day he was rolling on his back in the sunshine in the yard, and then later that day he couldn’t breathe, and I had to say goodbye to him. Having just lost my Jake the year before I was suddenly down to a one-dog household, something that I hadn’t experienced in more than ten years. And I was not expecting that my tiny, cranky octogenarian Chelsea would be with me too much longer.

Happiness is a warm puppy.
— Charles Schulz

So a week or so later (much too soon according to any recommended timeline but the one of my heart) I was on looking for some new chaos to bring into my life. Mornings without a riot of chihuahuas demanding attention and feeding? Empty. Walking around the house without constantly tripping over tiny animals? Pointless. I needed more big-eared creatures running around my life.

I had the idea to adopt two animals at once, a bonded pair. Both because I knew they were typically harder to home, and because I wanted to ensure they’d get along well. My last set of three dogs had what I’d describe as a polite detente. They co-habited, but without joy and absolutely without snuggling. When I’d sit down, they’d triangulate equidistant from me and each other, and settle in with baleful, untrusting glances at the others. I wanted a god-damned cuddle factory this time. I wanted joy and love and ear licks. Boy did I get what I signed up for.

Welcome to Timely Manor Skinny Pete and Badger*, big eared brothers from Needy Paws Rescue.

Skinny Pete and Badger, newly installed in Timely Manor

Two chihuahua brothers caught my eye at the Needy Paws Rescue site. With their giant ears and their anxious little faces and their description as “good with cats” (they’d never seen a cat before) they seemed like they might be a perfect fit for my household.  Their foster dad Adolfo brought them for a home visit and they didn’t kill (or get killed by) the cat, so it seemed things might work out. Of course I was petrified. I’ve never felt any other way when adopting an animal. AM I making a mistake? Will the other animals be happy? (I was particularly worried about how Poe would adapt.) Would the new dogs like a life with me? Would everyone get along?

I picked the dogs up on a Wednesday evening, and within minutes of having them in the house this was the view from my lap:

Never in my life have I met more friendly, bonded, cuddly animals than these two. My heart was done an immediate amount of good, just from having their tiny warm bodies intertwined right next to me. I didn’t know just how much I had been aching for some peace and harmony, until I had it. These two are absolutely inseparable. They look like twins to all eyes but mine (and even I have to have different colored collars on them so I can tell them apart at a distance.)  Life for them is nothing but thorough ear cleanings, extensive cuddles, and shared adventure. It’s been blissful.

Not so say there haven’t been upsets. Poe ignored them at first, then after realizing they were staying she let out her first ever (in four whole years) hiss. I didn’t even know what that noise was, I thought she was broken. (She’s gotten used to them now.) They’ve tackled poor Chelsea and knocked her over more than once in their puppyish exuberance. They wrestle more than is strictly necessary in my personal opinion. They definitely bring the chaos, which is what I wanted.  And overall? They’re the sweetest, best things that have happened in my life in ages. We go on almost daily walks in the park. They come along with me to work at the studio. They love car rides and pup cups from Starbucks and walking—even in the crowds on Delmar. (We went to Three Dog Bakery – heaven!) People stop me constantly to remark on their twin-like appearance, and the dogs bask in the glow of the attention and hope they get a chance to lick up someone’s nose.

Needy Paws

My experience with Needy Paws Rescue was the best adoption experience I’ve had to date. (This was my fifth time adopting animals and my fifth and sixth chihuahuas, respectively.) Their rescue is all foster based, they don’t have a physical shelter and their system for communicating with potential adopters was extremely smooth. After having these little guys for a two week trial period I made the adoption official and was promptly sent thorough vetting and vaccination records for both, as well as their microchip information. (Not for nothing but after four years and multiple requests I never got Poe’s microchip info from another local shelter.) If you’re interested in adopting, I’d strongly consider them.

So is it a gamble to choose your own family? Sure. These little guys were not only surrendered by their original owner, but they also had one failed adoption under their belts as well. I like to think the universe was just busy aligning so they could find me. After being part of two households that weren’t right for them, they came here, and they’re perfect for me. I love them dearly, and I hope we have many years ahead to be happy together. So look for us out and about in the city, and check us all out on my personal Instagram where they feature heavily (they appear almost daily in my Instagram stories, as you’d expect). If you see us out and about, come say hi and get your nose licked!

*The Story Behind Those Names

Photo ©AMC

So the guy who originally owned these two had to have been the bro-iest bro who ever broed a bro. He named them Pete and Maxx, with two xx’s. Seriously. I didn’t want dogs named Pete and Maxx with two xx’s. For one thing I think sibling dogs should have matching names, as a matter of principle. But I also hate to change an adult dog’s name, if they’re used to answering to it.

When their foster dad Adolfo brought them for a home visit he called Pete “Skinny Pete” as they came up the stairs. I immediately recognized that as the name of one of the meth dealers from Breaking Bad and thought it was hilarious. (I am not saying these two look stoned all the time, but, well.)

In the show Skinny Pete’s best dealer friend was named Badger. What matches? The “a” sound in “Maxx” and the “a” sound in Badger. So instead of completely changing their names I was able to keep a variation of Pete and just a slight shift from Maxx to Badger. Plus when I tell their names to other Breaking Bad fans we share a moment.

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