film to generate interest in world’s smallest dog

if it’s true that history repeats itself, the friday premiere of disney’s beverly hills chihuahua is sure to prompt a spike in demand for the smallest dog breed in the world.

“the same kind of thing happened right after the ‘101 dalmatians’ remake came out, and a lot of people realized they made a mistake,” said capt. bob brown of brevard animal services, which has animal shelters in titusville and melbourne.

chihuahua parents, like marcia ferris of palm bay, are excited about seeing the film, but worried that folks won’t do their research before adopting a chi-chi just like papi, voiced by george lopez, or chloe, voiced by drew barrymore.

ferris has owned chihuahuas for 48 years, and currently has three: goldi, patches and tina.

“i wouldn’t miss it,” she said about beverly hills chihuahua. “i appreciate that this type of movie is going to come out, but when something like that comes out, everybody buys one.”

in many cases, if the pet-person relationship doesn’t work out, brown said, and dogs end up in a shelter.

“we like happy endings,” he said. “if you rush into things sometimes, that may not happen.”

chihuahuas are not the best breed for small children

people need to know that chihuahuas, even though they’re featured in a disney movie, are not the best pets for families with small children. this is because they have very sensitive heads, especially chihuahua puppies. children don’t realize how fragile chihuahuas are, and might pat them too hard or grab them. the dogs suffer permanent injuries or snap back.

chihuahuas are energetic, but independent

“just like any pet, people should take into consideration what they want the pet for,” said theresa clifton, executive director of the central brevard humane society in cocoa. “if they’re looking for a dog to play with kids and fetch a ball, a chihuahua is not the dog for them.”

conversely, chihuahuas make great companions for older folks, ferris said.

chihuahua behavior and health issues

chihuahuas have big egos and tend to think they’re larger than they really are. ferris’s, for instance, are as protective of her home as her doberman pinscher, fabio, she said. If not well socialized and trained in obedience, though, chihuahuas can get nasty.

“when the elderly people carry them around as babies, they become extremely territorial and dangerous,” said ferris, an obedience trainer for the indian river dog training club.

the same goes for chihuahuas toted around in wealthy women’s louis vuitton bags, as seen in beverly hills chihuahua. in real life, they’re not likely to be friendly if pampered too much.

“just keep them social,” ferris said. “let people touch them, pet them and don’t carry them around 24/7. that’s what makes them aggressive.”

health-wise, chihuahuas don’t have many problems, said mary kirby of vero beach. kirby and her husband, floyd, are veterinarians and own two chihuahuas.

“the biggest thing with them is that they often have bad knees,” kirby said.

the condition, which can be corrected with surgery, is called luxating patella, which means their kneecaps in the hind legs slide out at the joint.

it is important to also know that chihuahuas, being a small breed, live longer than larger breeds so be prepared for at least a 15-year commitment.

for those people whose lifestyles are compatible with the breed, it’s a commitment worth keeping.

“i think the thing I love most about them is the feistiness, that spirit,” kirby said.

there are a few rules of thumb when it comes to selecting a chihuahua.

a dog is for life, so make sure you get it from a good breeder and go to an obedience class.

search online for reputable chihuahua breeders and chihuahua rescue groups, ask friends for recommendations, and again, research the chihuahua breed characteristics.

also, don’t rule out a shelter chihuahua. about 25 percent to 30 percent of animals at the shelter are purebred, and those that aren’t sometimes make the best companions.

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