Rendering a pen of 700-pound bulls into steers? Not too intimidating. Gelding a 1,000-pound stallion? Usually not a problem. Giving hulk-like Rottweilers their shots? No big deal. Risking life and limb to treat animals never comes with higher stakes than when that 3-pound fashion accessory of a dog is carried through the door for a nail trim. The Chihuahua's tiny head, the purpose of which is really just as an attachment point for a pair of enormous eyes and ears, pokes out of the designer handbag it employs as a means of transportation, prohibiting the animal from ever truly discovering the full potential of any of its four legs. This picture may not be one that you would expect to strike fear into the hearts of men, but believe me, it is only a façade ... nothing like the terror that ensues when the beast gets into the exam room and out of its handbag.
Unlike other dictators throughout history, Chihuahuas have not been forced to choose between being loved or feared by their people in order to maintain power. They have achieved both: loved for their tiny stature, caricature-like appearance, and cuddly nature, and feared for their Napoleon complex-fueled fury in response to anything resembling a transgression against them. Take for example the following scenario. The Chihuahua is out of its handbag, cuddling in its owner's arms, batting its eyelashes at me (I still have no scientific explanation as to how a Chihuahua's eyeballs can defy gravity, remaining affixed to the animal when clearly the entire structure of the eye sits outside of the body on a vertical surface.) All is well in the exam room ... that is, until those watchful eyes see me reach for a thermometer or nail clipper! Pupils constrict, the whites of the eyes go red, tiny lips curl upward to reveal what the dog seems convinced to be an impressive arsenal, and out comes a meek little growl the dog feels certain will intimidate. I want to say "Oh, you're so cute when you get mad," but at the same time, I'm thinking "Oh my gosh, I really am kind of scared of you right now." They maintain their power by being both loved and feared by their people.
Next comes the rodeo. One step closer to lift the tail or grasp the paw, and it's on like Donkey Kong. Gnashing of teeth, flailing around, feverishly climbing up the owner striving to reach the peak of the person's head hoping they won't be reached, escaping the horror of getting violated by a thermometer or having their nails trimmed. The lap dog has suddenly become some sort of land-shark coming after me like I'm holding a chum bucket. Various restraint methods are attempted only resulting in the dog proving there is nowhere it's teeth cannot reach. The veterinary team returns to their corner for band-aids and time to think of the next bright idea on how to get the job done, round after round going to the challenger, until finally the Chihuahua has had all nails clipped, or the thermometer has finished reading. Within moments, the animal is back in its owner's arms, completely back to normal, looking like it has granted instant forgiveness so convincingly that many times I have actually reached out to scratch the dog's head right after one of these episodes, more often than not, stopping short in response to the lip flicking back up. Respect the Chihuahua. They have powers beyond human comprehension.