Pack Walk with Cesar Millan and Scooby Doo

At the Pack Walk start line before everyone else

Last night after work, we packed the Chihuahuas in the car- forgetting most of our stuff but remembering Yuuki’s meds and our toothbrushes- and made a late night trip through horrific traffic and torrential downpour. It was for a great reason though.

Event set up on the National Mall

Today was Cesar Millan’s Second Annual Family Pack Walk which took place in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall this year. Last year it was in California, and who knows where it will be next year. After some debate (I’m a little worn out from my recent international and regional travels) and important encouragement from my work-b.f.f., I decided I was just going to suck it up and make the drive. It was totally worth it. I would say that, in all honesty, I was a little disappointed with the post-walk event, but the chance to walk with Cesar with worth it. I know some people have their issues with him, but I don’t and I’m totally okay with that!

The twins are marveling over how big the Wolfhound was

We stayed with my friend, his mom and his twin girls. The dogs were not particularly happy with this arrangement, and Yuuki launched into demon-chihuahua mode at each of the girls at least once. Chilly is always nice enough to make up for Yuuki’s bad behavior.

We got up early and drove into the heart of D.C. to find parking and make our way to the National Mall. There were more dogs there than I’ve ever seen in one place in my life. As my friends all know, Chesapeake’s Bark in the Park (happening next week) is my favorite dog festival of the year, but this one certainly had that one topped in dog size and variety. It was like a parade of all the breeds you only see on Dogs 101. How often do you find yourself pressed against someone with two Irish Wolfhounds? A full parade of Mastiffs in all assortments. A passel of greyhounds. Chihuahuas in all shapes and sizes. It was worth it just to see the parade of dogs!

Yuuki’s sporting his new Scooby Doo bandana

Because we got there so early, we had some time to waste and wandered around a bit. We got free t-shirts, the chihuahuas got bandanas and we got a ton of free poop bags. I got a little bit of judgement (only whispers and looks, no actual comments) because I was carrying Yuuki around in his pouch. My mom made this bag that he rides in– originally because he occasionally tweaks his

Yuuki in his pouch

back and can’t walk, now because his heart condition has dramatically reduced his walking stamina– and it makes me look like one of those people that carries her dog in her purse. In my defense, he enjoys his pouch and he lets me know when he wants to get out and in again. Some media guy took a photo of me holding Chilly with one hand and Yuuki in his pouch. I wonder if that’ll go up somewhere…

It took a while to get started, so we visited with other dogs near the starting line. Cesar gave a little talk (Thomas got a video of it on his phone) and then…after about 40 minutes of waiting…this mob of dogs and people began to move! It was super fun. There’s something to be said about a good dog parade with mostly well-behaved dogs.

Mobs of people and dogs waiting at the start line for the walk

Cesar and Scooby doing the pre-Pack Walk pep talk

Pack Walk around the National Mall. Yuuki made it most of the way- though we dropped to the back with the other fat/old dogs…

After the Pack Walk, we wandered around, but if you were older than 5, there wasn’t much to see. I sort of expected something like Bark in the Park with vendors and people selling t-shirts and crafts. The vendors were mostly D.C.-based tourism institutions (like the National Children’s Museum opening this December) or the event sponsors (Purina, Vetericyn and Scooby Doo). The girls played with parachutes and made crafts and visited the Scooby Van, but other than that, there wasn’t much to see. We stayed a couple hours admiring the amazing breeds passing by and then headed back through horrific traffic (I don’t get it– why is I-95 full of traffic for no reason on a Saturday afternoon??).

The Chihuahuas are passed out now, and it turns out that Shizuka actually missed us! I left her behind because I figured she’d rather be hunting (and she hates the heat), but apparently she sulked for the 24 hours we were gone. Maybe we’re bonding after all!

It was totally worth it, and I always love a good Cesar event. And Yuuki got more exercise than he’s gotten in a long time thanks to the relatively cool weather. Can’t wait to get my doggy vendor fix next weekend at Bark in the Park though!

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Ten down, nine to go!

I know, I know. Two posts in one day is too many. After a long absence though, and the fact that the last post was technically a re-post from my international travels, plus the urge to write about this because it’s a story I love so much, I’m going to post anyway!

The Operation Chihuahua Airlift has successfully resulted in 10 local adoptions of California toy breeds! Nine more, and Portsmouth Humane Society will have successfully saved 19 doomed toy dogs (mostly Chihuahuas) from one of California’s very Chi-inundated shelters. Hooray for saving Chihauhuas! I’m not spreading any new news here, but while shelters on the east coast are packed to the brim with Pitties and Pit-mixes, CA is bursting at the seams with toy breeds. According to a local news story, the Humane Society in Pasadena put out a call for help because they couldn’t handle the flow of Chihuahuas coming through their doors. PHS rose the challenge, and less that 24 hours after adoptions have opened (at noon yesterday), over half are already on their way to forever homes! Puppies and seniors and muts and pure breeds. It’s a little dog mania!! Adoption stories don’t get any better than this.

In March of last year, the ASPCA in NYC did a similar chihuahua airlift project (not their first) and there was a line waiting around the building to adopt the little ones. Last November, “Operation Air Chihuahua” saw 30 toy dogs rehomed in Houston from Los Angeles. I remember reading a while ago that even actress Katherine Heigl got involved, sponsoring 25 toy dogs to fly across the country to areas where they were in higher demand.

It’s an incredible exercise in supply and demand as fundraising efforts and generous donations from airline partners attempt to rescue these tiny companions from an untimely end. A Santa Cruz newspaper recently noted that thousands of toy breeds are being euthanized each day in CA due to overcrowding in shelters. I heard- though I think it was a blip on a reality tv show, so no factchecking here- that some CA shelters can’t keep these little guys more than 3 days because they’re so full. They’ve had to retro-fit cages to keep them from escaping the big-dog kennels where they can be kept in small packs (rather than the tiny mouse-box that I got Yuuki from).

Anyway, enough of the sadness out in CA (which we experience here with our masses and masses of Pitties waiting for adoption), I’m so proud of PHS for all they’ve done to get these toy dogs shipped across the country and rehomed so fast! They’ve got a great marketing guru over there and an amazing volunteer staff. Oh, and as a side note, while looking at their site for more information about the chihuahuas (because I’m obsessed with their little faces!!–for a full photo tour, see their Facebook page), I noticed they host birthday parties at their newly rennovated (and long awaited/deserved) shelter. Do you think I’m too old??

Leashes Optional: Adventures in Taipei

I’m reposting this from my travel blog to keep all my pet-related stuff together. Think of it as saving it for posterity.

I’ve noticed that dogs are an integral part of Taiwanese life. Ever since my travels to Rwanda where dogs are not a common household companion, I am really conscious of how people interact with their pets and what exactly constitutes a pet.

Excuse me miss, is that a dog in your tote bag?

Shizuka, what are you doing here?!

That’s not to say that some people don’t use leashes, it’s just that most people don’t and their dogs wander around with them without incident. With so many Americans struggling with their dogs on leashes, I can’t help but wonder what’s different here. If anything, you’d think the bustle of motor vehicles would motivate people to use leashes. I almost got hit by a moped today, and I can understand (sort of) traffic patterns! I wonder why that Chihuahua is sitting on a stool with a sign all in Chinese except for the word “money.”

So, the very well cared for dogs lounge about adorned with decorative collars and without a fear of strangers. Do you think maybe all the dogs who are not good off-leash dogs have just run away? Maybe you would just cut your losses and move one until you found a dog that didn’t require a leash?

I’m sorry, is that a dog in your shopping basket??

Yesterday, I was sitting on a bench at the university- which is very modern and very clean- and a dog loped by. No collar. Very dingo-like. “Ah!” I thought, “That’s what would happen to my big dog if we lived in a leashes-optional culture. She would’ve run off and joined a ferrel pack.” They looked like her and acted like her. I say “they” because shortly after the one went by, another that looked exactly like it wandered by. Obviously from the same litter. They look like the dog in the picture above, only with hound-dog (blue tick) markings. They don’t seem to bother anyone, or the pet-dogs that walk with their owners off leash around campus. The university does post signs not to feed them though. “Don’t feed the dogs or the pigeons.” At least that’s what I imagine it to say. Your guess is as good as mine. Minus those two urban dingos, all the dogs I see laying about the sidewalks and streets trusting the many passersby to not step on them, all the dogs seem well cared for, happy and healthy. It’s actually really refreshing what a natural, symbiotic relationship with their canine companions. Yet another reason I think I could live here…

A “Don’t feed the dogs” sign on a bench at the university