It can happen slowly or in an instant. It can be a situation that seems a burden at first, yet becomes a joy. Adopting a Chihuahua has its ups and downs, and here they are.

You never know when something crosses your path that may change your life.

Oliver is one of those moments for me. He is one of my rescued dogs, a Chihuahua. A deputy sheriff found him I know at the courthouse (I am an attorney).

Deputy Ray had seen the struggling Chihuahua from time to time when he drove his usual route to work. He promised himself he would try and catch the little dog if he spotted him one more time.

Sure enough, he saw Oliver struggling to pull his body up and over the curb from the street.

From Oliver’s appearance, it didn’t look like he would last long without any help. Oliver was a mess. His skin was pulled tight over his ribs, he had lost most of his hair, and he walked with his tail under his legs.

Deputy Ray approached me about Oliver (at that point, the little dog’s name was “Crusty” because of his skin and state of mind). Deputy Ray had another large dog, and even though the large dog was partitioned away from Oliver, Oliver spent his days hiding under a shed.

Adopting a Chihuahua Like Oliver

Deputy Ray asked me to take Oliver and see if I could get him to come out of his shell. I had never owned a Chihuahua before and didn’t have a favorable opinion of the breed. Every time I met one, they yapped non-stop and never acted very friendly.

The second I met Oliver and saw his sad state, all I wanted to do was scoop him up in my arms and help him. I felt he needed me, even though we had just met.

In anticipation of Oliver’s arrival, I made a small fort with rocks and lumber, so he could hide if he wanted to while he got used to his new family. The amazing thing was, he never needed it! Oliver took to his group of rescue pals like he always belonged — he was the latest sibling to my other dogs, Mandy, Frenchy, Buster, Scraps, Mr. Bean, and Wiggles.

Oliver’s emotional and physical journey back to health was slow but steady. After his first doctor’s visit, Oliver returned with a bag full of medications. His fur had fallen from stress and malnutrition, and his skin had crusts.

Oliver’s tail started to relax and point upwards during his second week home, and then one day, he barked! I’ve never been so happy to hear a dog bark over nothing. Oliver’s hair started coming back (and this year, after three years, his last patch grew back in)!

For some reason, I still can’t figure it out

All the other dogs took to him right away. There was no competitiveness, and they all seemed interested in him. They let him get away with a lot he could jump on them. Squish between them and me, swat their faces with his paw, and none of them ever got annoyed.

As Oliver’s dog siblings embraced him, Oliver became more courageous and happy. Not a night goes by without Oliver being groomed by Scraps. Twisting playfully in circles on the bed with Buster, or being held in my arms as I fall asleep.

Oliver inspired me to write a children’s book, “Oliver’s Heroes, The Spider Adventure.” I’ve never written a book before, but I wanted to capture some of the magic Oliver had brought to us and share it. Also, I hope the book sends what I call a two-paws-up message that all of us have unique and special qualities and good friends who support and strengthen each other.

I rescued many dogs, but Oliver touched us in a way we had never experienced before. People have said, “that dog was fortunate.” But we were the lucky ones the day Oliver came to stay with us.

I hope you all have the chance to experience a few life-changing, enhancing, completing moments in your future!

Cheryl Smith is a public defender who started a non-profit. Just The Place Inc., assists in caring for pets when owners were experiencing difficult financial situations or environmental crises. She was inspired to write “Oliver’s Heroes: The Spider Adventure” after her courtroom deputy found Oliver. A dog who was alone, thin, and scared, on the street. So, adopting a Chihuahua was the best decision of her life.

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