Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chihuahuas in Winter

Chewy the Chihuahua in his cool-weather sweater. Photo by D.S. Dollman. 

Chihuahuas are one of the oldest and smallest dog breeds known to man. They are believed to have originated in Mexico and are named after the State of Chihuahua in Mexico. Even when they are born and raised in northern parts of the world, chihuahuas still require special care during the cold. 

Chewy the chihuahua participating in his favorite pastime--sleeping. Note the size of his paws--they are dangerously small. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Keeping in mind that their paws are the size of bird feet, it's important to keep those tiny chihuahua paws warm and dry. If you live in a cold weather state, try to find little booties for your chihuahua. You may need to search for these online--to be honest, I've never found them in a store. 

Chewy the Chihuahua in his "Born to be Bad" hoodie. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Chewy the Chihuahua spent most of his life in Texas and the desert of New Mexico, but now that he lives in Colorado he always wears a sweater or jacket and is carried outside when he needs to go. If possible, he is placed on a dry or cleared spot for just a minute so he can get the job done, then carried back inside and wrapped in a blanket until he is warm again. 

Sweaters and jackets, like the one Chewy the Chihuahua is wearing in the above photo, are very important, even when the weather is slightly cold. It doesn't matter if the chihuahua is only outside for a short period of time. Even a few minutes in the snow and ice is too much for a chihuahua. It is much easier to find sweaters and jackets for chihuahuas than it is to find booties, but if you know of a source for small dog boots or shoes, please share the information in the comments section. 

Chewy the Chihuahua in his Pink Cadillac. Photo by D.S. Dollman. 

When walking your chihuahua during the winter season, you can also wrap him or her in a dog blanket as shown above. If you already own a chihuahua, you know they can be a bit stubborn. For instance, although Chewy the Chihuahua is sporting his favorite blue leash, he has refused for six years now to learn how to walk by my side. When I try to walk him on a leash he falls onto his back and makes pitiful howling sounds, drawing a huge crowd of neighbors who stare at the poor creature as if he is being abused. So, Chewy takes his walks in my granddaughter's old pink stroller, and in the wintertime he "walks" with a sweater or jacket and double blankets. 

Chewy the Chihuahua tucked in for his afternoon nap. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

If you keep your house at a temperature lower than the recommended 68 degrees your dog will burrow beneath the blankets. You may want to consider providing your chihuahua with his or her own blankets if you're uncomfortable having a mouth full of dog hair. 

Chewy the Chihuahua in his favorite blanket, which I purchased in Cancun, Mexico. Although it is doubtful that Chewy ever vacationed in Cancun, he does prefer this blanket. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Chewy prefers the warm, heavy blankets from Mexico--his country of origin--as shown above, but if there's a warm blanket available he will burrow all the way to the foot of the bed, regardless of where it was made.

Chewy the chihuahua burrowing. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Chewy the Chihuahua demonstrating the Chewito. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

In the above photos, Chewy the Chihuahua demonstrates what is known as "burrowing," or in my family, what is know as creating a Chewy Burrito, or Chewito. Burrowing is part of their nature. They were bred to burrow and kill rodents. 

Chewy wrapped in a matching yellow sheet ensemble. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

It is pretty much impossible to keep chihuahuas off the bed unless they are kenneled, and they do train to kennel quite easily. I prefer to use my chihuahua as a foot warmer, but he does have a habit of stealing my warm spot on the bed--as shown above--as soon as I stand up. 

Keep in mind that there are other odd habits that may develop from allowing your chihuahua on the bed. Chewy will only eat at night, after I have gone to bed, and he will only eat on my bed--gross as that sounds, I think this is because the larger dogs in my house tend to eat his share of the food. I've tried feeding him on the floor, but he is not the Alpha animal in our pack and will he walk away from his food to allow my female chocolate lab, Holly, to eat it instead (I think he has a crush, but that's another story). 

When Chewy does eat, he picks one kibble out at a time out of the bowl and drops it on the bed. Then he attacks the kibble; sometimes growls at it and scratches at it until it starts to roll on the comforter, then chases it or jumps on the bed so it pops up in the air so he can attack it again. If he loses that one kibble during the process, in spite of the fact that there's still 20 more kibbles waiting patiently to play in his bowl, he will desperately search the bed; or the floor; or nudge me out of the way to search beneath my pillow or dodge the slap of the cat and nudge the cat out of the way to search beneath the cat until he finds that one precious missing kibble. There's a lesson in there somewhere about gratitude.

Chewy showing his smile of gratitude. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

This is one grateful dog. As a child, when I refused to eat my liver and onions my mother often reminded me of the starving people in foreign countries. One of the interesting aspects of rescuing an animal is you don't know anything about its past, but it is highly probable that Chewy's mother was equally conscientious about the hungry pups wandering the streets of this world--Chewy knows the value of those tiny pieces of kibble!

Chewy the Chihuahua napping. Again. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Once the chihuahua learns he or she is allowed on the bed you may find it difficult to get the dog back off the bed. They are territorial animals and they love to sleep. In spite of his small size, and my king size bed, I often wake up in the middle of the night to find Chewy comfortably ensconced on my pillow while I am clinging to the mattress with my fingernails so I don't fall on the floor. 

Chewy the Chihuahua responding to a polite request to move over. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Of course, you could politely request more bed space from the chihuahua, but don't expect an immediate response. As I said before, they do love to sleep. 

Chewy the Chihuahua still contemplating the request to move over. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

No matter how much your chihuahua may love you--and I'm certain he or she loves you deeply--when it comes to getting out of bed, especially during cold weather, they are rarely responsive. Chewy the Chihuahua has been known to spend the entire day and night in bed when it is snowing or when the harsh spring winds blow, and he must be lifted and carried outside at appropriate times. 

Chewy the Chihuahua responding to a third request to get out of bed. Photo by D.S. Dollman.

Depending on how cold it is outside, as the pet of a chihuahua one must always be prepared for the response shown in the photo above when repeated requests are made to move from the bed during cold weather. Sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.