by Joyce Brandon
Joyce is a part of Animal Compassion Team, an animal rescue in Fresno.
Every once in a while a larger than life character crosses your path. This is as true in rescue as it is in any other walk of life. Joey, a seemingly insignificant little tan Chihuahua, is one of those whose stories I enjoy telling. Joey has certainly left his mark on my heart.
When involved in rescue, you receive numerous phone calls daily from concerned friends and strangers who are just certain you have plenty of room for another rescue dog. I get it, nobody wants to haul these little guys off to our dismal kill shelters and believe me, rescuers help when it is at all possible. It’s probably been close to a year now when I received such a call on Joey.
Joey showed up unannounced and not entirely welcome at a local rancher’s home. We will never know if he was dropped off there or if he was on some kind of grand adventure, but at this country home he landed.
Ranchers enjoy their dogs. They have dogs that work their livestock, dogs that guard their homes, and dogs that enjoy riding around in the back of the trucks and up high on the hay trailers. This rancher had several such dogs and they are treasured as a part of their family. Joey only wished to be a part of the family. He chased the livestock, barked at the family, and wasn’t big enough to jump up on the truck although he followed along behind as they went about their work in the fields. It was quickly apparent Joey wasn’t cut out for ranch life.
At first the rancher and his wife tried shooing him away in hopes he would return to wherever he had come from. Joey stood strong and wouldn’t leave. After a few days of this little tan pistol chasing the cows and horses, the rancher knew Joey would have to go. This is where I come in.
I have a soft spot for Chihuahuas. I love their attitudes, I love their big ears, and I love the unconditional love they offer their human companions. They are amazing little dogs. When I received the call on Joey I reluctantly agreed to help. Reluctant only because little tan Chihuahuas are among the most difficult dogs for us to find homes. I sure didn’t want him going to the shelter; I knew that was a death sentence.
I first spotted Joey in a kennel he had been confined to. Joey owned that space. He was proud, his ears were up, and you could just tell he was so happy to have a space to call home. I felt so bad for him. He thought he finally had a home, but I knew better.
I managed to find a foster home for Joey with a family that was brand new to rescue. We outfitted Joey with a brand new black collar and a coveted purple rescue tag for identification and off Joey went to his new home.
After only a day or two, I received a frantic call from the new foster that Joey had escaped the back yard. They had searched high and low for him to no avail. We were all concerned, but I had a feeling he was a streetwise little dog so I held out hope. I placed an ad on Craig’s List in the Lost and Found section and waited. Sure enough a week or so later we received a phone call that Joey had adopted two new families. He was moving from house to house but nobody could catch him. They recognized him from the photo on Craig’s List because of the black collar and purple ID tag. They couldn’t get close enough to read the tag but were sure it was him. After a few days of trying they confined him to a back yard and the grateful foster family was able to retrieve him
Life was good for Joey. He settled in with his new family. He had a real fondness for the terminally ill man of the house and enjoyed sitting with him and keeping him company. For just a little while, life was what life should be – good! It seems though, for Joey, life just doesn’t stand still long.
A few months following his retrieval I received another frantic phone call from the foster family. This time, Joey had been attacked by a large dog in their front yard. It didn’t look good they said, the dog had grabbed him by the head and they heard what sounded like bones cracking. Joey was going to die. I asked them to bring him to me so I could assess the damage and determine the next course of action. I waited for what felt like an eternity for him to arrive.
I ran out to meet the car and Joey’s foster mom was distraught. She told me the story and told me she had wrapped him up in a towel but didn’t think he had made it. Full of dread, I looked into the backseat expecting the worst. In confusion I asked the foster mom, “Is that Joey sitting up in the backseat?” She couldn’t believe I was asking her that and was even more shocked when she turned to see him sitting up and looking around!
We did take Joey to the vet to find that he had some damage to one of his adorable ears but other than that he was just fine. I was beginning to think this dog had nine lives!
Several months had passed and after the death of his foster dad, Joey was returned to us to live at our adoption center in Fresno. Joey has had no adoption interest at all but this lucky little guy was just selected to fly to Minnesota on our next Chihuahua chase. Joey will no doubt find a home very quickly in Minnesota as all of our Chihuahuas do.
His audacious adventures behind him, my hope for Joey is that he will finally find a place to call home for the rest of his life.
Up up and away little man!
Update: Joey was adopted within a few hours of hitting the adoption floor in Minnesota! We hope life will finally stand still for Joey and he can enjoy having a family of his own.