My best buddy’s Mother runs an animal Charity shop. There is a Facebook group called ‘Charity Shop Shit’ dedicated to people posting the things dreadful things they have seen in Charity shops: Fred’s teeth; butt plugs labeled as cocktail stirrers, Chucky dolls, Angela’s ashes… Someone got confused about how charity shops work and rather donate their shit for people to buy or buy the charity shop shit to help the cause of animals in need, they donated their unwanted dog. They left her there on death’s door. Literally!
I acquired my third rescue as a consequence. Calling Chicken ‘chicken’ based on her appearance was unkind to plucked chickens. She had scratched, whittled and fettled her skin on her back and arms and legs (doggy arms and legs) in to a weeping, bald, scarred mess. I met her days before Christmas …In the pub. Fatal!
I knew about her and I was trying not to succumb. I had avoided meeting her. She was being loved and nurtured by my friend’s mom who dearly wanted to keep her but already had 5 rescues… Hazard of the job! Her skin problems were because of severe unknown allergies. She was on medication, daily baths and wearing doggy dresses to protect her skin. She was seriously under-nourished and had just had a litter of puppies, certainly not her first. She was around 2 years old. She was a total mess.
I was hijacked. They tricked me into meeting at the pub for our annual Christmas gift exchange. I didn’t expect the dog to be there given I cant take Puggy to pubs. He bit the landlady and barmaid at our local. They casually handed Chickee (formally known as Bambino) over as my gift. My 12-year-old son held her and joined in the relentless haranguing for me to adopt her. If I had taken her home before Christmas, I think hubby would have left me after the previous Christmas Missy Pissy Fiasco rescue. Even waiting 2 months and taking her home at all means our marriage is still in the balance. Like Puggy, hubby hasn’t forgiven me for the intrusion of yet another rescue dog.
She is ugly, putting aside the warty crusty ears and plucked chicken look. She is proper full-on goggly-eyed Chihuahua with a short little snout …Too short, she snores and grunts like a wart hog! Her saving grace? She doesn’t bite (and thank f#&k she doesn’t lick… see below!) She has the sweetest most trusting nature. Given her start in life – we learned she was kept in a shed in her own shit and bred from to make money – she is so trusting. She just wants to be loved. Ironically, she only shows aggression towards Charlie and he’s the reason we had her. She senses a pecking order and clearly thinks she is vying for her place in direct competition with Charlie.
Loving her is sometimes made difficult by the habits that her early life style incurred. She shits her own bed. Nightly! Still! A year on! I crate the dogs at night. I made the mistake of putting her in with Puggy once. Puggy hates getting his paws dirty. He knows he’s a show dog! She shat in HIS bed. HE spent so long trying to push the soiled bedding out of the way with his nose that he made it red raw. He still has the scars. He hates Chicket with a passion. Even sharing the multiple morphing name phenomenon with her doesn’t do anything to endear her to him.
I’ve you are feeling for Pugget’s poo pain experience, I cant even tell you that she eats the poo, steaming hot and fresh out of Missy’s bottom like a bad movie remake ‘The Doggy Centipede – no sewing required’. You might think too badly of her. She does have an excuse. In the wild, nursing wolves eat their own poo to safeguard their puppies. Chickee had so many puppies at her young age her fanny dangled like a carrier bag along with her drooping udders. Besides, Missy has no excuse for scrambling for the fresh cat shit the second she hears the cat scratching at the cat litter and we still love her. At least Chickee eats poo for some vague altruistic reason.
Missy is indifferent to Chickee unless it’s when she joins in the daily cat scramble, then Missy would fight to the death for the spoils of war. It can be quite disconcerting for eyewitnesses when I join in too (preventative intervention measures, of course, I dont actually want the cat shit personally) Chickee is indifferent to Missy’s indifference and sleeps on her head. She always wants to be as close as possible to someone. If you sit down she will mountaineer over the other dogs to sleep as close to your head as possible.
Chickeedee had never really been on a walk. She waddled, she was so unused to walking at all. She had no strength in her muscles. She couldn’t jump up. We’d had her 2 months when she got though a little gap on our balcony. We had never used it. It was a nice summer evening and teenagers had invaded our garden. Bastards! We decided to sit on our balcony with a G&T (something we shall tell prospective buyers we do all the time when we come to sell The Ugly House – selling the dream!) Chickee found the gap, waddled along the ledge and dropped 8 foot. She was so floppy she just flopped, got up and ran around a little alarmed and confused about her sudden change in surroundings, but otherwise unharmed. The teenagers were crying laughing at my traumatised screams from the G&T terrace. Bastards!
It is a joy to watch her, eighteen months on, running after squirrels in the garden with the other two and keeping up. She doesn’t know she is running after squirrels. Neither does Missy. Only Puggy, with his clever little mongrel brain, knows what he is doing, even if he doesn’t fully understand why.
For Chicken’s first year we had to dress her. I’m not sure how I feel about dressing dogs. Puggy loves a nice jumper but Missy stands paralyzed and unable to move if you try to dress her. Chickee’s extensive wardrobe was for medicinal reasons. It stopped her scratching. We tried everything. I tried every herbal miracle cure going. We had her allergy tested. She was allergic to damp, mites and grass. Not easily avoided. The anti itch medicine lowers immunity and she was already a scabby mess. The vet, an amazing Romanian, who shouts CHICKEEEEEeeeeee every time he sees her (one of her many name variations), recommended a costly but effective monthly injection. She had 1 and it was like a miracle. She had the second month’s jab for good measure. She no longer wears dresses or has purply warty ears, although she is still pig ugly and still eats shit. Seeing her not nibbling away constantly (at her skin at least) brings home how truly crappy little shitty chickee’s existence was before her fortuitous and charitable donation.
Picture of Chickee – free motion machine stitching on canvas and organza