Several months ago I had promised to buy Anush my wife a dog (I haven't mention that on this blog). Preferably it had to be small and manageable since we live in apartment in Yerevan (although it’s rather spacious). She prefers small pets, the smaller the better, in fact.
At first she wanted a Pekingese, which is what her family owned when she was growing up. But when I expressed my displeasure, since I think they resemble skittering mops with punched-in snouts, she backed away from the idea. There was discussion about keeping a Labrador Retriever as well. My family back in Boston has kept two Labs—the black one we have now is 12 years old suffering from arthritis and total deafness. One of Anush’s cousins promised that they would give us their puppy, which was nearly completely white in color, but that fell though when they abruptly traded it with a shop owner for merchandise of some sort. Then I thought having a Dachshund would be great but she wasn’t crazy about that option.
A cat was certainly out of the question since I find them to be too independent, moody and unpredictable. Besides, there are too many feral cats running around the city, more than enough. They’re good for catching and eating rats as I have personally witnessed, so at least they serve a valiant purpose.
Due to various circumstances we ended up indefinitely postponing the acquisition of a dog. That is, until three weeks ago.
Our first stop was the Vernisage where many small dogs are plentiful at an average price of $200, including certification paperwork and vaccinations. However, depending on the breeder they are not necessarily well cared for. I’ve seen one woman for instance picking up her puppies for sale by the neck rather than under the front legs across the chest, so that was a discouraging sign. Another woman had several breeds of puppies all wanting out of there cramped cardboard box to go home with someone. There were two Dachshunds too, one of which took an active interest in us but Anush refused to pick her up. She already had a Chihuahua in mind, the smallest dog breed in the world. Since we didn’t find any there and would not ever, we walked away.
Chihuahuas are difficult to find anywhere, let alone Armenia. But Anush's mother knows a pet store owner who has contact with an experienced breeder of Chihuahuas, located in Yerevan’s Erebuni district near the “auto market (avtoshuga) of all places. We were able to get his number and arrange a time and place to meet. He had three puppies to show us.
That same afternoon we met the breeder, Armen, at Karekin Njdeh Square. In a small dog carrier made of heavy blue cloth that he held by one hand was a Chihuahua mix. It was only a few months old and belonged to a friend of his. The puppy was shaking a bit, which apparently is normal for a Chihuahua regardless of whether it is feeling a chill or is simply excited. I inspected the dog and found several small scabs in the back of his ears and what appeared to be bite marks at the tips. She was adorable, but I didn’t recommend that Anush to consider taking it home, and Armen also discouraged her. We asked to see his own puppies, so we sat in a Lada 2107 taxi driven by an absolute lunatic and were off.
The very second after Armen opened the door to his single-level house about 20 small dogs charged at us, all of them frantically excited and yapping. There were several Chihuahuas of various sizes (a difference of perhaps only a half-inch in height and length at the most), at least three Shitzus and one or two Pekingese. It was so chaotic in there that I couldn’t actually get an accurate count. One of the Chihuahuas, a pint-size guy (the father of the puppy we now own), was frantically barking at me, while two larger black ones were licking my hands with their miniature tongues enticing me to caress them. Eventually every dog there took turns to greet us at some point.
Two female puppies were available from two different mothers, with about a four-week age difference between them. The shade of the one that Anush chose, the younger of the two, reminds me of cappuccino, although her coat color is identified as “cream” in her “passport.” It seemed odd to me that at only three weeks both Chihuahua and Lab puppies are nearly identical in size and general appearance. The puppy, who we named Chi Chi, was understandably very reserved at that time, but after finally bringing her home on Friday we soon realized how rambunctious and crazy she can be when she feels like it. This afternoon she had a sparring session with the knuckles of my right hand. She repeatedly leaped onto my hand to gnaw on my fingers and joints, and she was really biting down at one point. I found that by closing my hand it was more of a challenge to grab hold of something and the experience wasn’t as painful. Yesterday she started barking a little bit and sort of growling when she was trying to play rough… hilarious.
Chi Chi loves to be cradled in someone’s arms. Her favorite sleeping position seems to be across the shoulder--she bolts up my left arm nearly every time I place her in my lap. Per Armen’s recommendation we are feeding her basic vittles for now—shredded boiled chicken breast along with the broth and non-fat cottage cheese, which Anush has been hand-feeding her. We’re trying to figure out the right time to start potty training—she’s small and it’s getting fairly chilly outdoors, so we don’t want her to catch cold, since they cannot tolerate windy weather well. For the time being we make sure Chi Chi scoots towards the linoleum floors in the foyer and kitchen when we sense that it’s time.
We’ve already checked out four pet supply stores in central Yerevan. They are all tiny but the selection varies from one to the next. Today I purchased a special dog carrier imported from the US --a pink braided cotton basket lined with a fine mesh that we’ll use to tote her around in easily since she’s too tiny to be walked on a leash attached to a suitable harness. We’re hoping she won’t mind it—she hates the cardboard box that we lined with blankets and old shirts for her to sleep in. The last two evenings she cuddled up to Anush in bed under the covers, and they slept that way all night. I’m hoping that’s only temporary….
Labels: Armenian Dogs, Personal Experiences, Photography