Please talk me out of puppy fever
April 6, 2019 10:23 PM   Subscribe

I have wanted a chihuahua since I was little, and the fever is back bad. I have always had rescue mutts, have a wonderful sweetheart now (she needs a best friend!) and three rescue cats who rule the house and the dog. Where I live, there are no shelter chihuahuas, only possibly local breeders or re-sales. Rationally I know I do not need another pet and yet. Talk me out of puppy fever please!
posted by dorothyisunderwood to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe you can compromise and take in a chihuahua that needs to be rehomed. Maybe someone is moving/developed allergies/getting old and you can give a dog a new loving home and get your chihuahua
posted by Kalmya at 1:49 AM on April 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

A lot of these dogs aren’t known for their sweet temperament so if you get unlucky and get a snappy little dog and cats who rule the roost by swatting, those protruding eyes and a well placed claw... ouch.
posted by Jubey at 1:53 AM on April 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I wanna talk you out of puppy fever and into new puppy friend territory. Tell me if all of this sounds wonderful and doable:

1. Chihuahuas, as you know, are nervous puppy friends, or at least they can be. You are going to be able to provide your pup with a soothing but still stimulating environment so that anxiety doesn't overwhelm anybody in the room.

2. Chi's are small, and can be overpowered by bigger dogs and the average cat. Your current pupper and his/her three feline siblings are chill enough that this won't be an issue.

3. Chi's can sometimes have medical issues related to their eyes depending on how teacup-y they are. You are ready and have enough fungible funds for one more vet visitor in the event that new puppy has any trouble.

Are all of these things in alignment in some way or another?

If so, idk, I think you may be ok to have a fever. If not, wait until you can check off all three boxes. Then come back and let us help you name new puppy please.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:13 AM on April 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I love dogs. Over the years, I have both had dogs and had friends and acquaintances with dogs, of many, many different breeds. I have never, ever, ever met a chihuahua that didn't utterly, irredeemably irritate the holy bejeesus out of me. I can't, for the life of me, think of a single thing good or endearing about chihuahuas.

Does that help dissuade you?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:00 AM on April 7, 2019 [16 favorites]

I have chronic reoccurring puppy fever and the only thing that works for me is to remember, it will not end with this puppy.
posted by InkaLomax at 4:05 AM on April 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

I can't speak to whether you should get another (possibly adult) dog, period, and whether that dog should be a chihuahua (I am not personally a fan), but in case you didn't know: a lot of breed-specific rescues will transport dogs to new homes that are several states away. (I have friends involved in this for other breeds - there are networks of people who are really into that breed who help transport dogs.) So if an adult rescue chihuahua makes sense for you, I would look into chihuahua-specific rescue orgs even outside of your state.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:10 AM on April 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

I do not know your specific area, so I may be judging too harshly. But a "local breeder" is unlikely to be someone truly invested in improving the breed, and waaaaay more likely to be someone in it for the cash.

It's my opinion that you would not be buying a healthy pup destined for a long healthy life from a local breeder. You will be buying a genetic freak from a puppy mill who will have ongoing serious health problems for the rest of its too-short life.

If that's ok with you, then rock on.

Also, needs more cowbell is right. I do what they describe, although I don't limit my travels to one breed. I transported a shaky, older, freakishly weird looking chihuahua just last week. He was a doll personality-wise, but could hardly breathe normally.

Check for dogs slightly outside of your area, and I'll bet you'll find plenty.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:24 AM on April 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Rescue dogs are highly regional. I’ve definitely seen a glut of chihuahua and chihuahua mixes in Southern California, for instance.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:22 AM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm not in the US and due to local restrictions, there has been one 9 year old chihuahua placed in the local shelters in the past six months, adopted almost immediately. We get 95% mutts in shelters, and the rest are rehomed pet shop pedigrees. To get a chihuahua would mean buying one from someone who changed their mind or buying one from a commercial but not evil pet breeder. My current sweetpea comes from one of the shelters and they wouldn't be able to place another dog with me under their guidelines because of where I live - she is the maximum size already.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:36 AM on April 7, 2019

I'm leaning more towards talking you out of chihuahua fever than puppy fever. I've got a good friend who's owned two, and man, chihuahuas are a handful. They definitely tend towards the nervous and high-strung, and they also tend to imprint strongly on a single person. Which means their relationships with other pets and people tend to be. . . fraught.

Every time I go over her house we have to sit through 90 minutes of bursts of panic from the dog before it sinks into his tiny brain, "Oh, right I know this guy, and I like him and I guess he's proved that he's not going to suddenly kill us all (this time)". She's gotta keep a very close eye on the chihuahua at dog parks or anywhere they might mix with other larger dogs, because at any second the chihuahua might decide another dog is looking at them or my friend funny and wanna fight, and of course a big dog can do some serious damage to a chihuahua without even meaning to. One of her chihuahuas imprinted on my friend's mom, which meant there was a good chance of barking and growling when my friend would try to do something totally innocuous, like go to help her mom off the couch. Plus that dog really didn't listen to my friend, because my friend was not that dog's Official Person. The current chihuahua's relationship with the cats in the house is constant guerilla warfare, and his relationship with the other dog (a little ball of floof that luuuuuuurves everybody) is a mutual sort of "mostly pretend this other dog doesn't exist." Except of course at meal times, when the chihuahua will decide that all food is his food, so feeding has to be managed to prevent hostility.

A quick glance at your other questions makes it clear that you've got kids, and at least one relatively young one. Neither chihuahua my friend has owned has done well with kids, because high-strung. Loud noises and sudden movements and suspicion of everyone not their Official Person (singular - one person) = big triggers for tension and hostility from the dogs.

It sounds like you've got a nice happy chill situation right now - you wanna go rescue another mutt or a breed that's gonna happily join your family pack, I say go for it. A chihuahua? That's gonna be more like lighting off a string of firecrackers and throwing them into the middle of the house on a daily basis.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:03 AM on April 7, 2019 [16 favorites]

Where I live, there are no shelter chihuahuas

Well - we live in Canada and our daughter rescued a Chihuahua that came from Texas. Rescues/shelters have a network of resources and work together.

He was very nervous in the beginning - and only started warming up to strangers after about 8 months. He lives in our home with 2 cats (whom he plays with) and 2 other dogs, including a Daniff (160lbs), whom he plays and wrestles with. (The Daniff gets on the floor and the Chihuahua wrestles with him between his front legs).

He has an incredibly sweet and quirky personality. He barks at people walking by, cars, squirrels, but no more so than the other dogs - with one exception - noises, he easily gets startled by noises and then will bark. Could be shutting a cupboard, or even a footstep.

So - it depends on the dogs, the cats and the overall amount of time you have to spend with a new pup. If you only have 1-dog, I would recommend 2 - a "pack" will keep them active, busy, healthy and happy.
posted by jkaczor at 6:20 AM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

My current sweetpea comes from one of the shelters and they wouldn't be able to place another dog with me under their guidelines because of where I live - she is the maximum size already.

This may just be me reading through the eyes of someone who has lived in apartment complexes with pet weight restrictions for too long, but do you mean this shelter won't place another dog with you because you've already got the maximum number/amount of pets you can have where you live?

Assuming I'm misunderstanding and you are allowed to have another dog where you live, people have already talked about rescue groups being willing to transport dogs to other places, but have you thought about contacting a group to see if they'd work with you so that you could come out, adopt the dog there, and travel home with her? I ask because this could potentially be a more immediate big commitment in terms of time, money, and effort for you; if it's something you're willing to make happen (assuming, of course, that responsible shelters would be willing to consider this - that part I honestly don't know about) then maybe it's a good sign that you are ready for the commitment of adopting another dog?
posted by DingoMutt at 9:02 AM on April 7, 2019

a commercial but not evil pet breeder

Breeders are deliberately making more dogs. Huge numbers of dogs die every day because there are not enough homes. When you buy from a breeder, yet another shelter dog dies. I do not think there is an ethical way to be involved in this. If you really want another dog, go to your shelter and see who they can match with you that will work for your household, and not be a problem for your kids and cats.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:12 AM on April 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

Alternatively, there are a lot of chi mixes out there in the rescue world, in which some of the breed qualities may be toned down a little. One of my buddies is 50% Yorkie/25% chi/25% lhasa apso (I know!!!), and while he's certainly on the higher-strung side, he doesn't have significant health problems and he accepted me almost the minute I showed up, on the grounds that I was petting his older brother and he very much wants a piece of any action that is going, thank you very much.
posted by praemunire at 9:23 AM on April 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've had dozens of chi fosters. As a breed, they aren't any more bad tempered than any other breed. But they're small, so sometimes they need a slower introduction to feel safe. I think they get a bad rap because people reflexively make assumptions about them.

But supporting a breeder is not ethical when thousands of Chihuahuas die every year in shelters.

Can you dog sit for someone else, as a test? If that goes well, maybe consider a senior dog or an older dog with far less upkeep required?

Puppies are relentless black holes of attention and poop.....and it's a lot even for me, and I foster multiple dogs. I only take adults and seniors for this reason. The seniors are the best. Many younger people getting their first animal are adopting seniors, and it's often a good fit.
posted by answergrape at 11:07 AM on April 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

My impression is that they are among the more overbred dogs due to their popularity over the past couple decades, increasing your chances of getting one with physical or behavioral problems.
posted by rhizome at 11:14 AM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just one more vote that buying from a breeder rather than adopting a rescue dog (unless you need a dog for, say, working purposes) is unethical. If you want to break yourself out of this, watch a video on how many wonderful shelter dogs are euthanized each year.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 12:56 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have a chihuahua and he's amazing. He's a charmer and everyone completely loves him. He's not yappy, he doesn't bite, and I'm going to be completely devastated when he dies. I think the reason he's so great is because he was an adult stray when I found him. All the complaints people have about chis are likely due to socialization and poor training (or reinforcement of bad behavior), and not because they're inherently bad dogs or something.

I say all this to say: Wait! Be patient and your dog will come. Please please please don't get a puppy; you forget how much work they are when you're in this mindset and begin to dilute the negativity when you think about having your own. I've had puppies and I've had rescues and I would take a rescue every single time! Aside from helping a dog who's ALREADY born (as opposed to creating a new dog), the rescues are so so grateful to have a loving home.

You don't need a puppy. Wait for your adult chihuahua!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:10 PM on April 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

My parents thought our childhood dog needed a best friend too. I will never forget the air of stunned betrayal she carried around with her for several months after they brought the new dog home.

Your pets have a very full home and active animal-social life already. I very much doubt they are looking forward to yet another competitor for your limited time and attention.

Given how many pets you already have, are you really sure that you're meeting all their needs? Why do you feel like you need another one instead of enjoying the ones you have?

Are you sure that you can continue to to take care of all your pets throughout their entire life? Really? Even when they're all crochety geezers with dementia, chronic diarrhea, arthritis, need to be carried up and down the steps to get outside?

If the shelter won't let you get another pet...there's probably a really good reason for that. People who place pets day in and day out do not think you should have another pet. That sounds like a flashing neon sign that you seem to be blithely ignoring.

I think you should totally get a chihuahua! In 10 years or so when you have fewer pets.
posted by Ahniya at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

My sweetpea jumped up and slept next to me for the first time last night, then this morning Sarah Mcahlachlan's shelter dog song played on my playlist and to cap it off, on our morning walk, my dumbass fight cat (this is the swaggering pet cat someone deliberately lost who then proceeded to plant himself in the path of everyone in the park and purr loudly until someone was stupid enough to fall for his act and take him home and now demands daily walks and does this same "I'm lost, feed me and pet me" trick but our neighbours have wised up to his antics and bring him back - after petting) and my dim sweetpea tried to pick a fight with a monitor lizard. I have claw marks on my arm from a very ungrateful cat who had to be hauled away from chasing the much much larger lizard into the bushes and then yanking the dog back from rescuing his cat, and I thought if that had been a chihuahua, it would have just been a SNACK.

On top of reading all that good advice above , I think my puppy fever has broken. If a puppy comes along, yay but we have a chill happy household for now. Someday, my chihuahua will come!
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:53 PM on April 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm late to this one but just wanted to add. If you've seen one Chihuahua in a shelter in six months, that means they are around to rehome. A lot of purebred (or at least, could pass as purebred) dogs are homed via breed-specific rescues and never go to shelters. Look for these, especially on Facebook. Contact the breed club in your country, who may be able to give you contacts. I help out with a breed specific rescue in the UK of an unusual breed - people are always surprised at how many are rehomed. Many are never advertised because there are more people who want to adopt, than dogs available in this breed. And they are generally prepared to help with travel. Find a Chihuahua/small breed rescue, drop them a line and keep in touch every so often. You may find a little friend who's right for you. :)
posted by tardigrade at 9:54 AM on April 13, 2019

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