Even for dogs, teen years can be stressful

Helena Rodriguez

Today is Pepe’s first anniversary. A year ago today, Mom brought home this cute, lovable, sometimes annoying and overconfident black and brown fellow with a distinctive white tip tail.
Mom’s little Chihuahua, Pepe, wasn’t the only addition to our family this past year, either. Pepe needed a mate, so in November, when we got tired of running after Pepe every time we opened the door, Mom got Choppe.
Now Choppe (short for Chaparitta, which means “short” in Spanish) was advertised as a full bred Chihuahua in a newspaper and even looked like one as a newborn pup. But when we brought her home five weeks later, she didn’t look very much like a Chihuahua anymore. She looks like some sort of mixed-bred chow, with perhaps a hint of sangre Chihuahua. I’ll talk more later about this hyper, pointy-eared almost Chihuahua with a brown circle under her left eye.
Our first year with Pepe has been a combination of heaven and hell. It’s been just like raising a child, with the hell part coming during the hormone-driven, rebellious teen years. I suspect Pepe is either going through or has just completed his teens in dog years.
Ay Chihuahua, they grow up so fast!
Pepe hasn’t asked for a cell phone or to pierce his belly button, but he frequently exhibits an obvious attitude and he has put us through many close calls this past year, sometimes making us stay up late waiting for him to come home.
The first “incident” occurred when Pepe was only a few months old. He sustained some serious injuries in a mysterious accident that almost killed him. We never found out exactly what happened to Pepe and the veterinarian couldn’t explain it either. We just knew he suffered some serious trauma to his body.
He just limped into the back door one day and then fell to the floor. He was in a lot of pain and was unable to walk for weeks. Eventually, he did make a full recovery.
Then this past summer came the big one, as in a Fred Sanford, “Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you!” big one. Pepe announced he had gotten another dog pregnant. No not really. It was worse than that.
My mom’s rebellious teen ran away from home. He was missing for two weeks. Just when we had given up hope and thought we’d never see our precious Pepe again, someone responded to a belated missing pet ad that I almost didn’t place, thinking we had let too much time lapse before placing it. The people had named him “Uno” because Pepe has one of his male parts, which is another mystery to us. He was like that when Mom got him. Anyway, Pepe immediately came running to us when we called his name and we all lived happily ever after, until Pepe’s next “incident.”
After that second traumatic experience, Pepe, who is known to have a bark much bigger than his bite (I don’t think he realizes he’s just a little Chihuahua. He must think he’s a Doberman), was injured again. This time it happened while fighting with another dog. These injuries were not as serious as the previous ones, so he made a quick recovery.
Just when he thought we had seen it all, Pepe alarmed us again. This time the problem was serious. Pepe became depressed. After he ran away, we didn’t trust him outside by himself anymore. He was basically grounded for life.
At the time, Mom was working, so Pepe was left inside by himself all day. Even when we got home, he’d sit around and appeared sad all of the time. He wasn’t his usual self, so that’s when Mom decided to get Choppe, who came to their home with her own set of psychological problems. I can only imagine what kind of situation these poor Chihuahuas were exposed to.
Now that Mom’s not working anymore, she and my niece, Marissa, are home with Pepe and Choppe most of the time, and all is well, for now anyway. Soon, Choppe will be starting puberty, too.
Helena Rodriguez is a staff writer for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at