Meet Griffin, An Adventurous Chihuahua

MRI picture of a slipped disc
No recovering from this without surgery

The beginning of this story starts in early summer of 2017 and I’m currently on my second month of short term disability leave due to an impending surgery for a slipped disc in my back. My pain started in May, bearable at first, and almost fully in my right leg. I had been weight training at the gym, in addition to preparing for a 5K Color Run, and the doctor initially thought I had IT band syndrome, a common running injury. I did a lot of recommended stretches and even used a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine to try to distract myself from the pain.

After about a month of this with no improvement, and no additional physical activity which could have aggravated the condition, I was sent to a neurologist who quickly discovered the problem after an MRI. He could tell right away it was surgical but my insurance required me to try the route of epidural injections first. From that point on, the pain got bad, fast. In late June, I organized my sister’s bachelorette party at Virginia Beach, and after one day in the water, I could barely get out of bed the next day. By July, I could hardly put weight on my leg, often giving up a minute or two into a shower and just sitting on the bathtub floor.

You’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with an adventurous chihuahua…?

Well, after dealing with such physical pain, isolation, and boredom, I was understandably feeling very low. My sister suggested driving to a local pet store to play with puppies in an attempt to cheer me up. I remember thinking it was a bad idea, because she would end up wanting one. At that point though, I was so tired of being practically bedridden that I agreed.

As soon as we arrived, I noticed a small grey chihuahua, in a window by himself, looking forlorn. I have always had a soft spot for animals with large ears, particularly chihuahuas and fennec foxes. I immediately chose him to play with and as soon as they brought him to me and I sat on the floor of the meet and greet area, he cuddled up on my chest and instantly fell asleep.

And I fell in love.

Let me just get this out of the way. Yes, I know you’re supposed to “adopt, don’t shop.” As a child, every dog I had came from the ASPCA or a rescue, and I’d never had a puppy. I certainly did not go with the intention to purchase a puppy from a pet store, but, as I’m sure you can guess, that’s what happened.

They charged an outrageous price for him, but it didn’t matter to me. I had wanted a dog for years, but because of my work schedule, I knew I wouldn’t have time to train and bond with one before being forced to leave them in a kennel for hours at a time. But at this point of my life, since I knew I would be off work for at least 2 more months due to my upcoming surgery, it seemed like an opportune time. Not for just any dog, certainly not one that needed a lot of activity. But an 8 week old, 3 lb dog – now that I could manage.

He helped me so much during that time to keep my spirits up and not fall into a deep depression over the circumstances. He was by my side through it all, and didn’t seem to mind those endless days we spent laying in bed together. After my surgery, he was the perfect partner to accompany me on my required short daily walks.

While I was still in physical therapy recovering, I met Kelton, and although Griffin had become very attached to me, as small dogs do, they quickly bonded. Once we moved in together, he definitely became OUR dog and not just mine and is now equally attached to both of us.

Skip forward a year or two after joining the family, and he had far surpassed the 8 lb weight the pet store had claimed would be his maximum size. He had long, long legs and was quickly pushing 20 lbs. As I got back to an active lifestyle, he didn’t miss a beat and quickly transitioned into an adventurous chihuahua. The perfect hiking and kayaking partner, he was always ready for a new experience. People would even comment on his enthusiasm during difficult hikes – “if he can do it, I can do it.”

Unfortunately, he developed a seizure condition (I believe this was likely due to puppy mill origins) when he was 2 years old, but it hasn’t really phased him. He has responded well to daily medication (phenobarbital) and his seizures are now few and far between.

In all of our adventures together, there has only been one time where a hike was a lot harder than we thought it would be and he struggled to keep up. Usually, he’s leaving us in the dust.

I never thought I would have a small dog who would love the outdoors as much as he loves spending the day on the couch. He has the energy capabilities of a much larger dog, even as he gets older (he’ll be 6 this coming year).

While he has stayed at home for our past international travels, I am determined to include him in the future. During our current 2 month trip in Mexico, he is at home in U.S. with my mom, and we definitely miss his presence in our lives. If we are on a hike, we wonder out loud if he’d be keeping up with us. When we contemplate if we could live in a certain neighborhood, one of our top considerations is how he would handle the surroundings, etc.

From my research so far, there are definitely a lot of factors to consider when bringing your dog on an international trip which include health certificates, vaccinations, the right size carrier, pet-friendly countries, the dog’s weight, what types of airlines and airplanes can accommodate pets, and the list goes on. It definitely makes traveling a lot more complicated, and expensive, especially when your dog is pushing the size requirements to fly in-cabin.

I know I’ll be writing more about navigating this challenge in the future, so I decided to go ahead and introduce Griffin, as he is such an important part of our lives. Neither Kelton or I feel inclined to have children, and I’m not going to claim that a dog can be like your child, but we do both love him very, very much and want him to be a part of our life, travels and all.

1 thought on “Meet Griffin, An Adventurous Chihuahua”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s