Working with a Chihuahua Rescue
Without question, the best way to find the Chihuahua you are looking for, the one virtually guaranteed to meet and exceed your expectations, is through a Chihuahua breed rescue. Chihuahua rescues are run by the experts, that is, by Chihuahua fanciers with extensive breed experience. These folks know Chihuahuas. They can differentiate between a truly timid dog and one that hasn't had many life experiences or socialization. Rescue volunteers can determine which dogs are aggressive and which are reacting in self-defense and fear. Most importantly, these people know what to do to help these discarded Chihuahuas become the best dogs they can be and to find them terrific homes.
The Application Process
When adopting through a rescue, you will be asked to fill out a long questionnaire or application. The information from this lengthy form helps rescue organizers match the best dog with the best applicant. The rescue will want to know what your home is like, what kinds of hours you work, where your dog will stay when you are not home, the amount of time you can give to your dog, how you plan on housetraining the dog, your experience with dogs and Chis, why you want to adopt a Chihuahua, and many other facts about your life.
Another source for rescued Chihuahuas is through a toy breed rescue. These rescues specialize in all toy breeds and are often found in areas where there is a need for such an umbrella organization. They operate in the same way as a Chihuahua rescue and are an excellent source for rescued Chis.
Once you've submitted your adoption application, a member of the rescue will call you. He'll answer any questions you might have about the breed and the adoption process, as well as fire off a few more questions for you to answer. The reason for the intensive inquisition is that breed rescues want to make sure that you can provide a safe, loving permanent home for an adult Chi in need. Requiring an extensive application to be filled out, following up with a telephone interview, and charging an adoption fee generally helps to weed most of these ne'er-do-wells from approaching a rescue.
The Rescue Staff
Once your application has been approved, the rescue will begin introducing you to various rescue dogs as they become available for adoption. The rescue will only show you dogs that they think could be potential matches for you. These dogs come from owners who have contacted the rescue to surrender their dogs, as well as from area shelters and animal-control facilities.
Once a dog is safely in the rescue's adoption program, she is given a complete veterinary exam, brought up to date on her vaccinations, bathed, groomed and then fostered for at least a week or longer by a knowledgeable Chi owner. While at the foster home, the dog's temperament is evaluated. The rescue wants to see how the Chihuahua reacts when around other pets, strangers, and children. They want to know if this Chihuahua has any hot points (places on her body where she doesn't like touched) or if the dog has any behavior quirks or phobias. Basically, the rescue's goal is to know this dog inside and out.
To find a Chihuahua rescue in your area, contact the Chihuahua Club of America's breed rescue. (See Appendix A for information.) This national rescue has compiled a network of reputable Chihuahua contacts throughout the country.
Once the rescue understands what makes a certain Chihuahua tick, the foster parent works on helping the new rescue become more adoptable — if she isn't already ready for adoption. Perhaps the most important aspect of adopting a dog from a Chihuahua rescue is that you will be able to adopt a dog that is a known entity. Rescue volunteers sincerely work to help the dog better adjust to home life, and they won't partner the dog until she's ready.
If you are adopting a dog through a Chihuahua rescue, you'll receive a lot of help in deciding which dog is the best for you. When working with a private individual, an animal-control facility or a shelter, the decision of which dog is going to be the one you can live with and enjoy for the next decade or two is likely one you'll have to make on your own.
Remember, when looking at adoptable dogs, you're not only looking for an adorable looking dog — you want to find a Chihuahua with a wonderful temperament and good health. The source from which you adopt your dog will determine how much effort you will need to make in determining what the Chi is really like.