This is my dog. Her name is Queenie. She’s (approximately) 10 years old and although she still looks very much like a pup (at a whopping four pounds), almost all her teeth are gone and her fur is slowly receding into a proliferation of liver spots on extremely soft, furless skin. A friend once said, “It’s like she’s turning into a hairless cat.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Queenie’s sire (read: dad) was my first dog ever, and his name was Jack. Jack was part chihuahua, part Jack Russell Terrier, part crazy-ass hyper adventurous dog. Jack’s original name was ‘Poncho’ but I wasn’t having any of that, so his name became Jack.
The first time I ever laid eyes on him, I was in search of a water bottle during a commercial break in my Saturday morning cartoons, and I opened the door to the garage to discover a blanket folded neatly in the center of the floor. Not only that, there was a tiny, light brown chihuahua puppy huddled and shivering in the center of the blanket. My mom had bought him from one of her coworkers whose dog just had a litter of mutt puppies.
Cartoons long forgotten, I spent the next few hours lying on the cold, cement floor, cooing to the little ball of fur that could barely waddle around. At this point in my life, I knew almost nothing about dogs, nor did I anticipate ever owning a dog. It was the same for the rest of my family, but as it turns out, my mom is a sucker for cute puppies and prone to impulsive purchases (like mother like daughter I suppose), and that was how my life with pets was born.
Queenie’s dam (read: mom) was my second dog ever, and her name was Cuzzi. As in, JackCuzzi. Get it? (Dad’s humor). Cuzzi was a white haired, pure bred chihuahua that my mom bought for $1,600 at the North County mall in San Diego. She even had her own pedigree certificate. Basically, my mom asked the pet store worker if she could hold Cuzzi, and then decided that she never wanted to let go. Noticing a trend here?
If Disney had a Lady & The Tramp with two chihuahuas, Jack and Cuzzi would have been the stars.
Jack and Cuzzi circa 2005-ish.
Fast forward a year or two, and Cuzzi starts getting a bit bigger around the belly.
I know, I know. It was irresponsible not to neuter/spay them, there are enough dogs without a home in this world, etc. But like I said, we didn’t know anything about dogs, and I was just a kid so… *shrug*
Mind you, Jack and Cuzzi were the first dogs our family has ever had, so of course, it’s our first doggy pregnancy as well. When the moment finally happened, everyone else in the house was asleep (I don’t even remember how I was there to catch it), and Cuzzi began popping out puppy number one while I stared on open-mouthed.
When the puppy fully emerged, the umbilical cord was still attached and was coming out of Cuzzi’s vagina. Up ’til this point, I had never seen a puppy birth, or any type of birth at all really, so I was at a loss for what to do. Driven by her natural instincts, Cuzzi started to chew through the umbilical cord herself, and following her lead, I sprinted to the kitchen and got our yellow kitchen scissors intending to cut the rest of it for her.
By the time I got back, Cuzzi had already bitten through the umbilical cord, but she only seemed to be able to break it in strands, so for the most part it remained intact. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if I’d hurt Cuzzi or the puppy by cutting the umbilical cord, even though I was well aware that it was normal to cut it during human births.
Eventually, I figured it couldn’t be worse than Cuzzi chomping on it, so I quickly snipped the cord about an inch away from the puppy’s body, completely severing all the little strands that held it together. With much relief on my part, and no screaming protests from Cuzzi, she then promptly began to lick the puppy’s wet body.
In short succession, puppies number two and three arrived, and this time I cut their umbilical cords right away (when the first puppy got older it developed an ‘outie’ belly button bump on its tummy).
Left to right: Lampin (‘diaper’ in Tagalog for the markings on her face), Giant (the biggest puppy by far), and G.I.
None of these puppies were Queenie. But several months after they were born, we ended up giving all of our dogs away except for G.I. (short for genuine Ilocano because she was completely brown, more of dad’s humor). We even gave away Jack and Cuzzi as a set to my mom’s friend. But then a year and another pregnancy later, Jack and Cuzzi were given back to us, this time as a package deal with little Queenie.
From the moment we met her, Queenie was cripplingly shy, and had this careful way of walking around. Her personality was always muted in comparison to the other dogs we owned, and to be completely honest, I didn’t think very much of her at first. Shortly after Jack and Cuzzi came back into our lives, Jack disappeared through the front door, which was accidentally left open. Cuzzi was stolen by one of the gardeners, and all we had left were Queenie and G.I.
Needless to say, my mom was heartbroken about Cuzzi being stolen (she was her favorite), and after another one of her co-workers heard what happened, she offered my mom one of the Yorkshire Terrier puppies her dog was having. For free. This pup we named Cookie.
On her own, Cookie was pretty damn annoying. She was the definition of a yappy, barking dog that none of our other dogs were, and worst of all, she terrorized Queenie to the point of having seizures.
There would be times when I would hear their screaming from afar and run over to see Queenie on the floor, body completely stiff with only her eyes rolling around. She would also be covered in a thin film of sweat from head to tail, and it would take 10 or 15 minutes of gently rubbing her with a towel, and murmuring soft words of encouragement until her body would start to loosen up again.
These episodes were scary.
I hated Cookie for what she did to Queenie, but being away at college and unable to keep an eye on them at home, I felt helpless.
Fast forward to my third year in college, and my brother decided it was time to give away the dogs completely. My infant nephew was coming into the world, and my brother thought it would be too much of a hassle to have two kids and three dogs (albeit little ones) running around.
My mom didn’t have an issue finding homes for G.I. and Cookie, and before long it was only little Queenie hanging out in the backyard all by herself. During this time, I was living in a house with roommates, and one of them already had a dog, so I figured I could take Queenie myself.
In the early months, things were pretty tough. I would go to school for hours at a time, and worked a part time job where I’d be gone for five or six of the remaining hours of the day. Queenie cried a lot when I was gone. ‘For hours and hours’ my roommates would tell me. She scratched the carpet below the door so much that it started to fray, and I had to start putting her in a small crate while I was gone.
She was relatively potty trained, but I didn’t know yet to take her out at consistent intervals and she would have accidents, not knowing when to use the bathroom or why she would get punished for not being able to hold it in. In my ignorance, I didn’t even leave her a pee pad to give her an alternative option to going outside.
I definitely wasn’t the best dog mom in the beginning. But because of Queenie I learned a lot, not only about taking care of dog, but about putting another living thing’s needs before my own. Because of her, my ability for empathy and love for animals skyrocketed. I mean I was already the type of person who ugly cried in the movie theaters when an animal died or was injured, but really getting to know an animal on an individual level, to recognize her personality and quirks and preferences as I would another person… I never got to know any of my other pets in that way. And I’m sure it played a major role in my eventual decision to become vegan.
It’s not until a dog chooses you as their person, that you realize the insanity that is the love from a dog. If I ever leave the room that Queenie and I are both in and I’m not back in 10 minutes, more often than not, I’ll see her sprinting to where I’m at, looking around until she spots me, and making a little sneezing sound that says, “There you are!” If not that, she’ll have her head up or perch at the very corner of the bed staring patiently at the doorway until I get back. And although it’s a little sad to hear that she doesn’t eat or socialize or do anything but sleep when I’m gone for a while, there’s also a little bit of an ‘aww’ factor in there too.
My love for her goes back 100%
Do I ever feel like going outside at 4 in the morning to take her out when she wakes me up because she needs to pee?
Do I enjoy having to drop what I’m doing sometimes to watch her eat because she’s weird and needs an audience?
Is it ideal to have her slowly push me off the bed throughout the night until I wake up clinging to the edge and about to fall off?
No siree bob.
Is it desirable when Shahan leaves the bed to sleep on the couch because she licks herself incessantly for 20-30 minutes every night as a ritual before sleeping?
Yes, actually (more space on the bed).
Is it cute when she’s the whiniest of whiny babies when she wants food or attention?
It is no longer cute. Ever.
But is it all worth it to see her excited, squirming body every time I come home? To know that she tries to put off going to sleep until I get to bed so she can settle into her cuddle spot beside my hip? That she’ll sprint back and forth throughout the house looking for me when I force her, unknowingly, into a game of hide and seek?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes x infinity.
To think that this little, four pound ball of fur has changed me so profoundly in her ten short years of life… My heart squeezes just thinking about it.