May 30, 2021
Colima City, Mexico
Last week, John was visiting at a neighborhood friend’s house, when the visit was interrupted by a young woman who came to the door dressed in black ninja gear. Our friend reached into his pocket and paid the woman 50 pesos and then proceeded to sign a book that she offered. John, thinking that there was probably a good story behind this, asked our friend what was going on. Our friend explained that the woman represented the neighborhood vigilantes who policed the area on bicycles (mainly at night) and blew whistles when they detected any kind of trouble or suspicious behavior. When a whistle is blown the other vigilantes rush to help their comrade, do whatever they do with the bad guy, and thus, keep the neighbors safe. Wow!
John asked if there was a big problem with crime in the area. Our friend said no, because of the ninja team, but exclaimed that he always kept his doors and metal gates locked, day and night. Oops!
John exclaimed, “Well, we haven’t been locking our doors during the day when we are home.”
Our friend looked at him with a pensive glare.
John explained further, “Since we are on the third floor of our building, we figure that a bad guy has to really work to get to us or our stuff, plus we have several 24-hour alarms constantly monitoring our building. Three of our neighbors have chihuahuas!”
To which our friend replied, “Ah, I see. Never mind. You ARE protected!”
As house and pet sitters, we have been around a lot of animals. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, pigs…we’ve taken care of them all. But never in the past four years have we experienced so many chihuahuas. It seems everyone here in Colima has one. Rarely do we ever go out and not see one leashed to it’s owner or just wandering around. They are popular. So it got me to thinking that there must be a lot more to this incredible little creature than just adorable size and constant watchdog yapping.
If you’ve ever been around chihuahuas, you will totally understand and relate to everything in this story. If not, then maybe, like us, this will provide several knowledge nuggets about this tiny yapper that you didn’t know. Regardless, we hope you’ll be entertained!
Even though the Chihuahua is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, its history is a mystery. Just because they are named after the largest state in Mexico, Chihuahua, doesn’t necessarily mean they originated there.
The state of Chihuahua borders Texas and New Mexico, and in the mid-1800s, some of the earliest archeological specimens of chihuahuas were found there.
Then in the 1880s, Mexican merchants began selling the tiny canines to tourists at the border who then brought them to the United States as pets. At first, they were called Arizona dogs, Texas dogs, Mexican dogs and Chihuahua dogs. With those choices, you can see why “Chihuahua” stuck and is used universally today.
One of the most believable theories about the origin of the Chihuahua is that it descended from the Techichi, a small companion dog domesticated by the Mayas (1800 BC to 900 AD) in Mexico. Techichi, averaging 10-20 pounds, were larger than modern-day Chihuahuas, but shared many physical characteristics. But, unlike Chihuahuas, the Techichi is believed to have only long coats and be mute. They have definitely found their “voices” through the years! When archeologists unearthed ancient burial plots around Colima, they discovered effigy pots and sculptures dating back to 300 BC with images of dogs with striking similarities to the Chihuahua. Obviously, from what we’ve seen here, the little guys never left!
Another theory is that Chihuahuas originated from Europe, specifically, the island of Malta. This small island was once home to a small dog known as the Maltese pocket dog, which shares very distinct characteristics including a “molera” which is a small opening in the skull or soft spot. Today, between 80% and 90% of all Chihuahuas are born with this cranial gap.
Another clue, to support the European theory, can be found in the Sistine Chapel. In 1482, Botticelli, an Italian Renaissance painter, created a fresco on one of the chapel’s walls entitled The Trials and Calling of Moses (see above). If you examine the painting closely you’ll see a boy holding a small dog that has an uncanny resemblance to the modern-day Chihuahua.
Of course, this could have been a Techichi, brought over from Mexico, but the painting was done ten years before Columbus discovered the Americas. Here’s Botticell’s painting zoomed in:
Now, to me, this furry guy looks like a Chihuahua. What do you think?
There is no doubt that Chihuahuas can be entertaining, quirky and full of personality. But they come with baggage, and not necessarily the type that is used to tote them around.
• They are miniature geniuses.
In proportion to their bodies, Chihuahuas have the biggest brain in the dog world and they are very easy to train.
• They are easy to pick up and tote around.
You can travel anywhere with your little friend.
• They are funny and entertaining.
Watch one for a while, you’ll see what I mean.
• They are very loyal.
• They LOVE warm sunny weather.
• They live a long time.
Lifespan of 12-20 years.
• House breaking is a challenge.
Because they have tiny bladders, house breaking a Chihuahua can be a real challenge.
• They are not too keen on rain or cold.
I guess this is why we have seen so many with little sweaters and coats!
•Don’t mess with Chihuahuas.
Because they are so tiny, Chis compensate with fierceness. One study found that even Chihuahua pups are aggressive to humans and other dogs outside their breed. Owners are urged to start socializing them with people and other dogs early on.
• They are prone to barking…and barking…and barking.
Chihuahuas are very suspicious and often yap mindlessly. Some types can exhibit nasty behavior depending on their lineage or if they have not been trained as a puppy. But hey, they are awesome watch dogs!
Be afraid, very afraid.
In 2014, a group of feral Chihuahuas overran the small town of Maryvale, Arizona. They ran in packs and terrorized children and pooped anywhere they wanted, all over town. They even teamed up with larger dogs (I told you they were smart!) and basically harassed any human that came into their path or tried to stop them. There were over 6000 calls made to Animal Control, and the dog catchers had a difficult time wrangling the disobedient pooches. Check this out:
The world loves Chihuahuas. Here’s proof:
The starring role in Taco Bell commercials for many years was done by Gidget, the Chihuahua. She was one talented and sought-after pooch. Not only did she make the commercials, but she did personal appearances for Taco Bell events, arriving in a limousine and flying to each gig in first class. The amazing little Gidget passed away in 2009, several years after retiring from her canine stardom.
“Yo quiero Taco Bell”
~ Gidget (voiced by a human man)
If you grew up in the 90s you definitely will remember the high-strung Chihuahua Ren, and his laid-back cat companion Stimpy. Throughout each cartoon segment Ren’s antsy personality and need for control, morphs into anger (usually directed toward Stimpy) as the duo embarks on strange adventures in outer space, the Wild West and their own neighborhood.
When Ren turns into a quivering emotional wreck, it’s his cat friend who is always there to sooth and take care of him.
“What do you MEAN ‘YOU DON’T AGREE WITH ME!?’ DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH!!!!?” ~Ren & Stimpy
Yep, Ren was ALL Chihuahua!
Angel, the real-life Chihuahua who plays Chloe in this movie had been dumped by her previous owner and was found by a dog trainer who led to her fame and movie stardom. The tricks she does in this movie are amazing! She’s one smart Chi!
Rusco is the other star of the movie. He’s a Chi mix. Like Angel, he was “discovered” by a trainer via an online adoption site. He plays the poor Mexican Chihuahua Papi, and does a wide variety of tricks as well.
If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s worth it. Be prepared to be thoroughly entertained.
(voiced by George Lopez)
Papi : [voice over] My name is Papi. I am descended from an ancient line of proud warriors. My ancestors went into battle, alongside Aztec soldiers. Today, we move within the inner circles of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet. Who am I? The question is… *What* am I?
[pops out of doggie hatch on the huge door of an Aztec temple]
Papi : I’m a Chihuahua! [growls slyly]
Tito is the feisty, scrappy little Chihuahua from Disney’s 1988 movie, Oliver & Company. His full name is Ignacio Alonzo Julio Frederico de Tito, and he often forgets how little he is, loses his temper and picks fights with critters much bigger than him. He embodies the stereotypical mean little Chihuahua dog.
His tough-guy façade changes when he is around the ladies and he becomes a flirtatious, kind-hearted little guy.
“You insulted my pride! That means death!”
~Tito, Oliver & Company
If you’ve ever seen Legally Blonde, you know Reese Witherspoon’s (Elle Wood’s) tiny co-star, Bruiser Woods.
In real life, Bruiser is played by Moonie, and did both Legally Blonde movies with Reese. He was confident, social and oh, so fashionable in both films.
Moonie passed at the age of 18 in 2016.
“I’m Elle Woods and this is Bruiser Woods and we’re both Gemini vegetarians.”
Wheely Willy was a paraplegic Chihuahua from Long Beach, California. He became a celebrity and the subject of two best-selling children’s books as an ambassador for dogs and humans with mobility disabilities.
Willy was abandoned in a cardboard box with back injuries and his vocal cords sliced. He was taken to a vet, treated, and was put up for adoption. Willy was adopted after a year by pet groomer, Deborah Turner.
Initially, Willy had to be carried everywhere, but innovatively Turner began to experiment with contraptions to make Willy mobile. She tried helium-filled balloons to lift his hind quarters as well as a skateboard. Both were unsuccessful. Finally, she discovered an advertisement for K9 Carts and found a type of wheelchair adapted for dogs which worked.
Willy became popular with Turner’s customers and was featured on the local news, which led to event participation as well as TV appearances.
Willy died in 2009. His tenacity and good nature were frequently hailed as inspiration for animals and humans with disabilities.
“Willy is a gift, and not just my gift from God, but a gift that I can give to everyone.”
When we leave Colima, we’ll miss a lot of things. The weather, the friendly people, the food, and of course, the 12-inch pit bulls that have faithfully guarded our apartment building for the past six months.
Hooray for the Chihuahuas of Colima!
¡Hurra por los chihuahuas de Colima!
You have inspired, entertained and protected us. Thank you little guys.