My two long-haired Chihuahuas, Autumn and Rocket, came into my life on October 19, 2010. My parents had thought that their dog was pregnant, then knew for sure after she gave birth in our guest room. My Dad told me that our dog had become a mom that night, so I ventured downstairs to the bedroom to see. The puppies were impossibly small black dogs with their eyes closed, and could easily fit in the palm of my hand. During the first few weeks of their lives, their mom took great care of them. She feed them and protected them, even going so far as hiding them in the closet to keep them safe.
Watching them grow was pure joy. From teaching them how to walk on a leash to seeing them getting used to wearing collars; every moment is now a cherished memory. Watching the first time they saw and played in snow. Everything was just so new to them, and to me too. Even though my family had always owned dogs, we had never had puppies before. We even tied bows around their necks during their first Christmas. They were our gifts.
The puppies became all mine to take care of last summer when I left my home state of Virginia to move to Phoenix. They were my road-tripping sidekicks for the entire 2,000-mile journey. We chowed down on countless chicken strips at Sonic drive-thrus, and I gave them water when I pulled off of the road at a run-down truck stop in some no-name town in Oklahoma near the Texas border. We all walked to a local park so we could watch the sunset together in Santa Fe. I saw the Arkansas Ozarks fly by my windshield with Autumn in the passenger seat and Rocket in the back, all leashed up in their car seats. That trip was such an amazing experience, and I can’t imagine making it without them. Even though they can be a handful, caring for them is the most effortless thing I do.
Rocket is my tiny boy dog. He’s just six pounds, but I love to call him my guard dog. He’s always alert. His favorite place? Right by the door. He’s spunky and loves being held, even if he only tolerates it for a few moments at a time. His nicknames include Cohete (rocket in Spanish), Rocky Rocket (but never Rocky), and Rocketta.
Autumn is my affectionate and sensitive girl. When she was getting bigger, my family called her the deer dog because she had long limbs. One of her ears is slow to stand up—a common Chihuahua trait. She loves getting her tummy rubbed, she’ll let me hold her all day, and she’s always giving me kisses. I call Autumn my latte dog because she has golden fur that looks like the espresso-based drink. Her collar and leash are decked out in red hearts because she has a big one and her nicknames include Autie, Otono, and Autie dog.
From the way they’re always excited when I walk in the door to their near constant presence in my life for almost six years now, each and every moment with them matters in equally small and large ways. And as much as I give them, they give me so much more.