Bobby Humphreys is a big guy doing big things in rescue – for little dogs! Big Guy Littles World Sanctuary is Bobby’s passion project. He cares for and rehomes tiny Chihuahuas who have had rough beginnings or special needs. But just a few years ago if you had told Bobby that he’d be spending his days with a pack of teeny Chihuahuas, he might’ve called you crazy.
For years Bobby’s breed was Rottweilers. The beautiful, athletic dogs are more the type someone might guess a big, brawny guy like Bobby would love. He never gave any thought to smaller breeds, and in fact, would grief other guys he saw with pocket-sized pups!
“I actually would poke fun at any of my guy friends to happened to date someone who owned a small dog. I had truly just never had given one a chance.”
Things changed slowly. It started when, after 17 years, his marriage came to an abrupt end. Bobby hadn’t seen it coming, and the suddenness with which it occurred made the pain worse. The heartbreak was too much to bear, and Bobby considered ending his own life. But thanks to a friend who refused to let him go down that path, he made it through.
“I lost faith in humanity, got weak and I wanted to end it. One person above all, Connie, kept me on this planet. True friend that was always there. In fact, she wouldn’t leave me alone long enough to do what I wanted to do. She literally just wouldn’t go away no matter how much I told her to. She had lost friends to that before and wasn’t going to lose me.
“My friend, Connie, had shown me what friendship really meant. No matter what I needed, she was there for me. Needless to say, I feel I owe to her quite a bit.”
One day Connie asked Bobby for a favor. She was moving and would not be able to take her dog: a Chihuahua named Lady that was known to be unfriendly. Bobby had already met Lady and was not a fan.
“Seeing Lady at friends’ cookouts and listening to stories from Connie and numerous others, Lady was not exactly somebody I wanted to be near. Connie admitted that she was very protective of both her and her son, and that she didn’t really like people. Especially men. So, honestly, I just steered clear of her until this point.
“Now, to make matters worse, Lady, is what she would say, a little off. Lady apparently decided one day to eat [Connie’s son’s] chemotherapy medicine … Somehow, amazingly, Lady survived. However, she wasn’t quite right after that… She’s a little lumpy, a little off, just not quite right.”
Because Connie had been such a good friend, Bobby agreed to take Lady in. He figured he and his new roommate would do their best to steer clear of each other to make their new arrangement work. Connie dropped Lady off while Bobby was at work, and when he got home she was sat in her kennel quietly under the TV. Bobby decided to risk getting bitten by letting Lady out, and when Connie got there later to see how they were getting along, Lady was in Bobby’s lap, watching TV like they were old friends!
“[Connie] swore she’s never seen anything like this, this dog hates everybody. Lady and I have been literally inseparable ever since.”
Bobby was still wrestling with the pain of his sudden separation, but Lady helped put together the pieces of his broken heart.
“I was still struggling to come to grips with everything. There were many days I could not even get up and go to work. Weeks turned into months and the only thing that made me happy was spending time with Lady. I cannot believe how this little 7 pound beautiful baby stole my heart.”
But one day he remembered that Lady wasn’t actually his dog and would go back to living with Connie and her son when the time came.
“So I set out to find myself my own Lady. I have some childhood memories of my grandfather’s Minpin named Lucy that I also was very partial to. I either wanted to find somebody that looked like Lady or find somebody that looks like Lucy.”
Bobby’s first find was a brown and tan dog named Kira. His first tiny pup. She was living in less-than-perfect conditions, in a home where the floor was caked in mud due to the poor construction, and she was untrained and undisciplined.
“Upon meeting her I was very confident that she would like me because, of course, Lady, who hates everybody loved me. Boy was I wrong. I got to see firsthand the fury of a Chihuahua! This puppy tried to take my hand off literally. She wouldn’t get near me she barked and growled.”
Bobby was worried that she would greet other prospective adopters the same way, and no one would want to give her a good home because of her attitude. To save her, Bobby agreed to take her hoping she’d come around. By the end of their ride to her new home she was already cuddling with Bobby while he drove.
However, Bobby wanted a dog he could raise from puppyhood, and Kira was older than he had hoped, so his search continued. He found his next pup, Harley, on Puppy Finder, but quickly realized that something was amiss when he went to pick her up. Bobby was told that Harley was from an unexpected litter after the owner had decided to stop breeding their dogs, but one of the children in the house let slip that a male pup from a previous litter was being inbred with the mother for more pups.
“I started to see a pattern here. So many of these little beautiful babies are being abused or taken advantage of and I just couldn’t sit by and watch it happen. This is why I went back to get Quinny the next day.”
The inbreeding caused the two pups, Harley and Quinn, who Bobby calls “the twins,” to be very fragile. Though Bobby had been doing good for these dogs and they comforted him, he was still hurting. The birthday he had that year was particularly tough, and to avoid looking at social media he decided to scroll through Craigslist instead. That’s where he found Lucy – who happened to be the same color and have the same name and his grandfather’s MinPin from years before.
Lucy’s owner seemed desperate to rehome her. Bobby asked her to hold on to Lucy for just a few days, but the owner insisted he come that day – his birthday – because it was urgent. She even offered to lower the rehoming fee. Bobby made a five hour drive to meet the little dog and hear her story.
Lucy had been found wandering near a trailer park just a few days before. When the woman found her she knocked on trailer doors until she found Lucy’s previous owner, who told her, “I don’t want that thing, I’m done with it!” From what she gathered from the man, neighbors, and an emergency vet, Lucy had been a bait dog, used to train fighting dogs to be more vicious. Lucy was covered in teeth marks, had broken bones, was starved and terrified of people and other dogs. Still, while Bobby was visiting, she crawled into his lap, and he knew she was his.
During the ride home on a dark highway, she put Bobby’s dedication to a real test. When he stopped for gas, she hopped out of his car and ran. She sprinted down a busy, unlit highway, and Bobby knew that oncoming traffic wouldn’t be able to see her until it was too late.
“I am now in the second lane of traffic chasing her down a dark highway at 9 o’clock at night. I knew there was literally no way they could see me until last second, let alone a little 4 pound black dog in the dark. Made the decision to stay in that lane in hopes they’d see me since they’d barrel right over her without seeing. I am thinking to myself, ‘oh god, this is it. I’m going to die in the middle of a four lane highway.’ Luckily, I was able to gain on her due to her prior injuries and run her down. When I got within 5 feet of her she collapsed, curled up into a ball and buried her head between her legs. It was at that moment I understood what a bait dog was. I froze. The trailer went by blaring it’s horn and the wind sheer about knocked me over.
“I was able to grab her and get her off the road and bring her back to the car. And filled up my gas and left the station, but I had to pull over as soon as the adrenaline stopped pumping. I sat there literally cried for over five minutes. I held her so tight. The only thing this poor girl knows is survival. She knows that if she can get loose she must run for her life and when she can’t run any longer she simply collapses and accepts her fate. I can imagine the life she must’ve led.
“She made me realize just how sick and cruel humans could be. She gave me a cause.
“I had at that point realized it felt better to save a dog from a bad situation than find the perfect looking little dog. That’s kind of how my pets spiraled out of control and to having as many as seven or eight. Almost all of which came from bad situations. It seemed like the right thing to do.”
Since then, Bobby has taken in several other dogs who hardly had a chance. Georgie, who was in overall poor health and lost his eyes due to neglect. Chi Chi, who came from abuse with heartworms and a herniated disc in her neck. Nugget, who was born with deformed front limbs and has difficulty getting around on her own. And many, many more.
“We rescue Chihuahuas who are living horrible lives, abused, starving, disabled, mental issues, etc. And give them either a furever home with us where they will never have to experience neglect or anything like that again, or we nurse them back to health and adopt them out! We just want to help as many babies as we can.”
Bobby’s big heart has room for every Chi in need, but rescue is not without it’s challenges. Since word has gotten out about Big Guy Littles World Sanctuary pleas for help have been pouring in. His rescue is mostly self-funded from the jobs he takes doing high-end custom flooring. However, with so many special needs dogs requiring his time and care, he’s had less time to work on his craft.
“The biggest challenge honestly has been financial.”
But money won’t stand between him and showing love to dogs who have never had it before. Bobby currently has around 35 dogs in his care but expects to have about 40 by next week. Some of the dogs have since found happy homes elsewhere. Alos passed knowing they were loved for at least a little while. Some will spend the rest of their lives in Bobby’s care. There may not be any money in it, but he says the return is even better.
“What’s the most rewarding part? That’s the simplest answer yet. You’ve seen the videos. I have 34 current reasons that make every bit of stress and hardship worth it. There’s not a single one I can’t pick up and get the love and affection from that doesn’t change my day for the better.”