Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ponchito the Fierce Warrior

I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles to hear what happened to the Hahamongna Chihuahua, spending sleepless nights worrying about the little guy. Here, finally, is the update.

Back at my place, he lay on the floor, barely able to keep his eyes open, yet each time I came into the room he’d stand up and wag his tail. The little guy now adored me, and the feeling was quickly becoming mutual.

Already I was testing the waters, mulling over how to make it work, hoping he could make a harmonious transition to becoming a new member of the pack.

The cats, both bigger than he, were unperturbed by his presence, a refreshing change. Ramona lounged on the floor just a foot away. Frieda was cautiously curious, and then ignored him. But he growled at them as they passed.

Life must be difficult when every creature you meet is bigger than you and therefore a potential threat.

Something about this little guy’s scrappy looks with his bulging eyes made me think of Grandpa from the Munsters so that’s what I started calling him.

That night, the cats slept in my bedroom, Tommy in the kitchen, and Grandpa in the living room. It made me happy to see his little body curled up on the makeshift bed of blankets, sleeping soundly.

In the morning, I took him out for a short walk and then went back to the house to take Tommy out. But the little guy wanted more. To save time, I decided to walk them together. I left Grandpa waiting at the front door and brought Tommy in his snoot loop toward him. I picked up the little guy’s leash, and Tommy with his overbearing energy went right up to his face. And bam!, there was a dog fight, the pit bull against the Chihuahua.

I spread my arms, a leash in each hand, as wide as they could go, sending poor Grandpa airborne. And that was it. It was over as quickly as it had started.

I took Tommy for his morning walk alone.

The plan was to drop Tommy off at Starcrest Kennels for doggie daycare and then take the Chihuahua to the Pasadena Humane Society. If no one claimed him after the required allotted time, I would spring him from the shelter and foster him. Maybe I could even keep him, although the morning did not bode well for a house of harmony.

I worried about his options if I couldn't keep him. Veronica said she might be able to get him on a transport if he passed a temperament test, but what if he didn't? He wasn't a cute cuddly lap dog. He was elderly and curmudgeonly and, with his cherry eye and a wheezy cough, he had health problems. What would I do if no one wanted him? I had turned my life upside down to save Tommy, and after two and a half years I finally felt as if I had my life back. I wasn't sure I could take another upheaval, not with my small space and no yard and the constant threat of fights. But what had been the point of saving this guy from the streets if I were to just turn around and let him languish at a shelter for 5 days before being euthanized?

In the car, Grandpa crawled into my lap to get protection from Tommy’s wild gaze. But like I said, he wasn’t a lap dog, he didn’t cuddle. He stood up to see what was happening outside the window, his little legs boring into my larger ones. At a red light, I lifted him to his blanket on the passenger floor. I scratched his head and made cooing noises at him, which really perplexed Tommy. Why was he getting all the attention?!

Once at Starcrest, I left Grandpa in the car while I brought Tommy up to the reception area. As I turned back toward my car, Rita, the owner, passed by. I told her about how I'd found the Chihuahua, and jokingly asked, "Do you want to keep him?"

I expected a laugh in return, perhaps a gentle "no, sorry, I can't..." but instead she said, in all seriousness, "let me see him."

I took her to the car and we discussed what to do. I told her I thought I should take him to the Humane Society first and give an owner a chance to claim him. She said well, if that's what you want to do. But I started to change my tune as we considered his stats: unneutered, cherry eye, with a yellow rope tied around his neck. Whoever “owned” him didn’t seem to take very good care of him. Doubtful that someone was looking for him but if they were, didn’t we want better for this little guy?

Rita took him under her wing, and that's the last I've seen of him. He's since been neutered, had surgery to fix his cherry eye, and gotten all his shots. He's in quarantine in "the condo" until Rita's sure he's healthy.

Rita says he's fiesty. He put up a good fight when she went to give him a parvo shot. She called him a fierce warrior and named him Ponchito.

Once he's out of quarantine, I'll post a picture of him.

Rita, like Veronica, is a hero.

Ponchito the Fierce Warrior. Lucky dog!


  1. hooray what a lucky pup. I love a happy ending. I didn't realize you were so close to me :)

  2. Kari in WeHo, me too. Yep, Tommy and I are just a quick trip away from you and your pack.

  3. Hooray for you and Ponchito! You and Rita are heroes and Ponchito is lucky he found you both.

  4. I like your stats "unneutered, cherry eye, with a yellow rope tied around his neck. " Reminds me of some kind of Harmony dot com rejection notice.

    He sounds very very lucky. Landed on a soft spot.

    One day I'll tell you about the disastrous "great Burmese give away" Brought to you by a crazy german animal hoarder and the Lacy Street Shelter. I was doing the public art element for them at the time, so was around daily over a three month period

  5. PA, you've sprinkled a few gems in this comment: Harmony dot com rejection notice, soft spot, and an excerpt of another great story. I look forward to the full-blown version.

  6. Dang, you've made my night. (I've never yet had to turn a rescue over to a shelter, but if I did, the script is "I found him/her in Pasadena.)

  7. Made me cry! In a good way. So happy for Ponchito. You did a good thing and Rita did a good thing and Ponchito was saved. No more yellow rope, no more cherry eye and maybe he's barking a little higher but a whole lot happier! Congratulations on a wonderful ending to the story and the new beginning for Ponchito. Does my heart good to read this kind of story. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Hiker, glad to hear it. When Rita took him in, it made my week. I follow that same script. I found him outside the Pasadena Humane Society boundary, but I had no intention of bringing him anywhere else.

    Thanks, Liz. I was so relieved to get Rita's help. I feel as lucky as Ponchito!

  9. Ponchito the Fierce Warrior! What a story. Thank God you saved his life. You stayed there for 2 hours just to catch him. You are a Hero! Rita is a good person too. I will tell everyone I know to go to Starcrest to kennel their dogs, because there is an Angel working there. Who keeps a special eye on all the babies. Even the old, cherry eyed, scrappy ones. Can't wait to read about your next rescue adventure. You are a good one!!!

  10. Awwww, Veronica. Thank you! I'm lucky to have so many other animal lovers and rescuers in my life.

  11. John, Boz and I saw a little, fluffy, black and white dog at Hahamongna the other day. It was wearing a collar but wouldn't let us near. Ran out across the basin and into the underbrush by the dam as soon as we tried to approach. I didn't have any treats to entice it out again.

    I thought of you. Must carry dog treats in the car from now on.

  12. Oh, poor pooch. It was good of you to try.

    Great idea to carry treats. An extra leash is a good idea too. We should start a Pasadena rescue group network. Hmmmm... you may be hearing more from me on that one.

  13. Aaaw! Ponchito! Hopefully he will find a forever family. Nice work. Miss J found a dog this week, too. Luckily he was chipped & the owner was fairly easily found.

  14. That's great, Miss J. Nice work on your part as well! Shows how important those chips are.

  15. Another thing, I don't know if this is true any longer but last time I took a pit bull into Pasadena (that I found wondering loose on a jobsite in Santa Fe Springs) I was told that they didn't adopt them out and would only release them back to the owner. Needless to say, I had to drive back to Santa Fe Springs afterwards and put him in the Baldwin Park Shelter

  16. PA, love Ginger boy! What a beauty. Thanks for sending me to that post. You were right that I'd like it.

    I have a cat named Ramona too.

    Wow, I've never heard that about PHS and pit bulls. Good for you for looking out for the one you found.

  17. Oh Yea!!!! We love happy endings. I know that he will be so loved!!! You both are heros!
    BTW, I didn't know that about PSPCA and pit bulls either. I thought they would take the dogf if you found them in their area and you lived in their area. THats distressing since I donate to them, I will redirect my donations to pit bull friendly rescues. Do you know for sure?

  18. Thanks, Daisy Dog. I'm going to call PSPCA to find out for sure. I would hate for you to stop donating to them if it's not true. I'll get the scoop and let you know. I'm so glad you're a pit bull lover!

  19. That would be useful information. Pit bulls are good dogs like any other dogs. We don't need to discriminate.

  20. Wow. Great story.

    I still think she should have kept the name Abuelo though.

  21. Petrea, I'll call PHS today and get the story on pit bulls.

    Jun, thanks for stopping by! Abuelo would've been a good name for him, too.

  22. @Susan, I e-mailed them and I this was their reply:

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention! The Pasadena Humane
    Society accepts ALL animals from our 7 service cities. That certainly
    includes pit bulls. We assess their health, their temperament and assign
    them to enrichment programs that we feel are most appropriate and will
    enhance their adoptability. Many pit bulls have gone through our Shelter
    School and earned their Blue Ribbon for basic training. We are working
    to help these dogs get the best opportunity at placement that we can.
    Please help them by correcting this misinformation if you get the chance
    and feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
    Thank you for your ongoing support for the animals.

    So I wonder what the circumstances were surrounding what happened. Also I am interested to hear what they tell you.

    Annie (Daisy's mom)

  23. Thank you, Annie, for posting that. It's great news.

    The person I spoke to said that about 10 years ago the PHS had a policy of NOT placing pit bulls but that has not been in effect for about 8 or 9 years. She said pit bulls, like all dogs, go through temperament testing before being adopted out. They do require that potential adopters include proof they are allowed to have pit bulls in their homes (some insurance companies won't cover pit bulls on their policies), but that's it. I was hoping that's what we'd find out. PHS seems pretty progressive in their attitudes about pit bulls.

    Of course you know all about how great pit bulls are as mom to the majestic Daisy!

  24. Pit bulls are so smart. You can train them to do anything from fighting to being perfect little angels. As with most dogs, it's all about the owner. I'm glad the PHS is progressive about them.

    One of my neighbors asked me, "why would anyone have a dog that could kill a little child?" Well, just about any dog over 40 lbs. could kill a small child if that's how they're trained. The dogs with the most behavior problems: Chihuahuas and Dachshunds.

  25. I agree. Ponchito is much better off with Rita.

  26. Petrea, I agree with everything you've said, although I didn't know the statistic about Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. Unfortunately I think people are not very inclined to train small dogs. You can get away with a Chihuahua with behavioral problems, unlike a misbehaving pit bull.

    Dennis the Vizsla, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you approve. I have a feeling most bloggers who visit would, although I don't think it would be a universal sentiment.

  27. I can't wait to see pictures of little Grandpa Ponchito. You are the Catcher in the Rye for all furry creatures big and small. Gonna start calling you Susan Caulfield :^)