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Pint-sized survivors of hurricane Harvey find new life in Hamilton

Posted: October 30, 2017

It’s a dog’s (new) life for rescued Chihuahuas

NEWS Oct 23, 2017 by Jon Wells  Hamilton Spectator
Rescue dogs from Texas, some likely orphans of Hurricane Harvey, arrive in Hamilton to meet their new families.

The journey started 2,000 km away in Texas, where the pint-sized furry creatures survived the ravages of hurricane Harvey.

It ended, or rather began anew, on peaceful, sun-splashed Locke Street, at My Dog’s Cafe where the sign reads: “Dogs are allowed … People are too!”

A van pulled up Saturday morning and the doors opened to reveal cages holding 16 rescued Chihuahuas, the latest delivery from volunteers with the Texas Chihuahua Rescue-Canada Chapter.

Tiny pointy ears, glistening little eyes; yapping, whining, tails flapping; tags with names like Flower, Pistol, Chance, Kobe, Adore, and — “Mr. Pringles!”

hat was four-year-old Navia Page, exclaiming after meeting her new dog.

The rescue gives each one a name, the adopting family is free to change it.

Mr. Pringles? Not a chance it gets changed.

“It might have been the name that sold us,” said Navia’s mom, Sharon, who arranged for the adoption after spotting the 12-pound, five-year-old “mellow master cuddler” described on the rescue website.

And not only that, but “he’s so soft,” said Navia.

Chihuahuas are the second-most euthanized dog breed in Texas, and some of those delivered to Hamilton were among the untold numbers of animals displaced in August by the hurricane.

The Texas rescue brings about 20-25 pre-adopted dogs into Canada each month.

Those picking up their dog at the café seem a unique breed of big-hearted people.

Dawn Elston, who lives not far from the café, adopted 10-year-old Maddie. She has taken in older dogs before; the unwanted of the unwanted. Most prefer a puppy or young dog.

“I’m a big proponent of senior dog adoption,” she said. “They are a lot less adoptable.”

Elston lives with her father and said their home will be quiet and calm for Maddie.

“She’s a dear little thing.”

Kelly Berdan, from Dunnville, already has four rescue Chihuahuas and her husband doesn’t know she’s picked up a fifth. She said she’s “a little-dog person … they never grow up.”

And: “They are like potato chips you can’t have just one.” (Maybe she should have adopted Mr. Pringles.)

The café was wall-to-wall Chihuahuas because in addition to the rescue, a reunion of past adopters and their dogs was held.

That included Coley O’Hoskie and Jerson Manalang, who started dating after picking up their dogs, and each other, at a rescue in April.

They now share a home in Brantford, and a king-sized bed in which two Chihuahuas, two American bully dogs, a mastiff, and two cats are welcome.

In advance of Saturday’s rescue, on the adoption website, one Chihuahua named Ziggy generated the most comments.

Pictures showed he suffered deep chemical burns to his back during the hurricane — just how, no one knows, said Maureen Woods, who co-ordinates the rescue.

One less-than-sensitive comment suggested it was a waste of time and money to treat the dog.

And here is Ziggy, 10 months old, with perhaps the most playful disposition of the lot, about to ride to his new home, in Burlington.

Rescue volunteer Mike Fancy cradled him. You can still see flesh-coloured patches through Ziggy’s fur, but he has healed nicely.

The dog squirmed. He wanted down. So Fancy set him on the patio in front of the café.

Ziggy promptly rolled over, ready for a long-deserved tummy-rub.