When Pinky came to the Sanctuary, she had only one thing to say to people. “Don’t mess with me, and don’t even think about messing with my pups!” That’s a Chihuahua mother, folks!
The tiny, angelic-looking Chihuahua could go from being utterly calm to fiercely feisty in a matter of seconds. But no one could blame her. Pinky came from a place with too many dogs and not enough care or love from people.
She didn’t know how to trust people on her own — never mind trusting them around her then-helpless, three-week-old pups.
During her first ten days in Dogtown, the Chihuahua mother was frightened. Whenever her caregivers would come close enough to take a peek at the three precious pups, she would snarl and snap at them until they backed off. On the one hand, the behavior showed what a wonderfully protective mother she was. She only wanted to guard her babies with all the strength she could muster from her little body.
Getting the Chihuahua Mother to Trust
However, caregivers like Analia Matias, known around Dogtown as “The Puppy Mom,” knew that they would have to get Pinky to trust them if only to ensure the puppies were healthy and growing the way they should. Because their mother was so agitated, the puppies were already showing signs of fear. It was crucial that they learn socialization skills so they wouldn’t grow up afraid of people, too.
“Pinky was the toughest puppy mom I’ve ever worked with,” says Analia. She had to enter the Chihuahua’s room slowly and cautiously in the beginning. But, once she realized that her caregivers were trying to help and not hurt her and her babies, Pinky stopped getting so upset and began to let them come closer and closer.
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Analia recalls one particular day when she could finally go in and pet the pups gently. She did so while talking softly to the worried mother. After that, there was no more snarling or teeth-baring from Pinky. She was finally comfortable allowing people to tend to her and her puppies.
Dramatic changes for Piky
That was a big step for Pinky, and her caregivers were thrilled. But, once her puppies were weaned and adopted into new homes, she started making even more dramatic changes, now that she no longer had to protect them. First of all, Pinky went to school, participating in a shy dog class at the Sanctuary that’s specifically for dogs 20 pounds and under, as well as a play group for small dogs.
As her circle of canine friends expanded, she started to win over more people and to show that she can trust. For example, even though she’d gotten used to petting, she would back away or bark whenever anyone tried to pick her up. Now, she’ll just roll over onto her side bashfully when someone reaches for her.
One of the biggest sweethearts
Pinky hasn’t completely lost all of her shyness, but the little dog has turned out to be one of the biggest sweethearts in Dogtown. “When she bonds with you, it is very special,” says her current caregiver, Dara Merrifield. Pinky gets all wiggly when she sees people she likes, and she’ll even give them little kisses on their faces.
These days, she’s even paying it forward by helping other shy dogs settle in comfortably in Dogtown. That includes one of her roommates, Lyric, who spent the first two years of his life in a shelter. She’s showing him everything she’s learned in her few short months at the Sanctuary, including the fact that getting love, affection and treats from people can really be pretty sweet.
Photos by: Wendy Gallant, Kurt Budde, and Ann Hepworth