Chihuahua dogs missing in action

Helena Rodriguez

Chihuahua dogs seem to be disappearing fast from our neighborhood on North Ave. J. in Portales — and that disturbs me.
When our precious little Pepe disappeared from our front yard on the night of July 1, I soon learned one of Pepe’s playmates, Chiquita, had disappeared from the next block down a few weeks prior to that. Chiquita’s owner then told me her sister-in-law’s Chihuahua, our next door neighbor, mind you, had also vanished. I started hearing stories of other missing Chihuahuas in the area.
Ay Chihuahua! What is going on?
Is Taco Bell staging a nationwide search for a new Chihuahua to succeed its famous bilingual-speaking Gidget? Is someone running some kind of underground Chihuahua smuggling operation? Or are these miniature pets so irresistible people will get their hands on them any way they can?
A Chihuahua craze was started in 1997 when Gidget uttered that famous bilingual phrase, “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” on national TV. A few years ago, my aunt Matilda had her Chihuahua, Pancho, stolen in Dallas. But when my mom brought Pepe home this past December, I figured the Chihuahua craze was long over. Apparently not.
Since Pepe disappeared, I’ve noticed several ads for missing or lost Chihuahuas in this newspaper. I filed a report with the police department, but learned that no one else had. I took the time, knowing it may not bring our Pepe back, but at least the police will have a record of it and be aware, should this be a possible trend.
I fell in love with Pepe the day my mom brought him home. I made a big fuss over him standing there, with his big pointy ears and little face, just looking up at me in wonder. I didn’t realize how attached I had become to Pepe until that night he disappeared. I felt like I lost a member of the family.
Pepe, with his black coat and brown patches under his eyes and stomach, has a little white spot at the tip of his curly black tail and a funny walk after an unexplained injury a few months ago.
My dad is certain Pepe is bilingual. He seemed to enjoy our Tejano and Norteño music and seemed to understood my grandma, who only speaks Spanish, when she visited us last month.
Pepe seemed to have had a rough life before we got him. Our little Pepe felt a strong need to make himself heard. When I took him to the vet about a month ago, he continually barked at all the bigger dogs in the office. He didn’t scare them, though. He seemed to annoy them more than anything because they just ignored him, but Pepe bravely kept barking.
Pepe was always there to greet me when I got home. I often saw him waiting by the window. He also liked to sit next to my mom on the couch and propped up his chin on her leg. He was afraid of my dad but would still follow him around the house. Pepe also followed my daughter, Laura, everywhere. This annoyed Laura at first. She didn’t like Pepe for awhile, but she soon started getting attached to him, too, and was as saddened by his disappearance as I was. For days we moped around the house, hoping to hear his familiar barking … but nothing.
We still haven’t lost hope Pepe may return. If he doesn’t, I’m grateful for the time we had with Pepe. He’s the only real pet my daughter has known. Every child needs a pet. Pets not only give them companionship, but teaches them that friends will come and go in their lives — but life goes on.

Helena Rodriguez is the lifestyles coordinator for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at:
helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com