Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Genesis of Chuy

Dear Internet,

Have I ever told you the story of how I came to own this dog?

Hippie Dog

76 bottles of beer on the wall...

Let me start from the beginning. When Rene bought a house with his mom and brother many years ago, some repairs needed to be made to the house. Most were minor, and a few were major. The most major of these repairs was replacing the piping - the existing pipes were 30 years old and clogged, and the water pressure was getting low. The pipes were replaced with copper piping by a plumber named Jay. A few months later, another thing needed to be replaced (hey they don't call it the money pit for nothing), and this time it was the water heater.

Also around the time they moved in, Rene's brother Henry bought a puppy. His name was Spanky and he was a rottweiler. Henry felt that they needed a dog to protect the house since the backyard was accessible from the alley, and shady characters often hang out in alleys. Spanky, for the most part, was an obedient dog and a good guard dog. The only problem with Spanky, Rene felt, was that Henry did not really take care of him. And by take care, I mean pick up his poop. It was all over the backyard and was driving Rene nuts.

Enter Jay the plumber and the matter of the water heater. On the day that Jay came by to do the estimate ($200 plus labor), he complimented Spanky and said what a nice dog it was. In fact, he even said, "I'll give you the water heater for free if you give me the dog." Ding! A light went off in Rene's head, and before you knew it, Jay left the house with a brand new rottweiler puppy. Rene got a free water heater. Everyone's happy with their deal, right? WRONG! Everyone except Henry, who owned the dog, and was livid after he found out. He was really PISSED.

A few weeks later Henry brought home a new puppy, this time a pit bull named Doja. She was small but terrible. She was a mean little thing and bit anything you put in front of her face. Luckily for us, she was only a puppy but we were worried how this behavior would translate to adulthood; who wants to be bitten by an adult female pitbull? Anyhow, even though Rene did not like Doja he couldn't find it in his heart to get rid of the dog, seeing how Henry reacted the last time he pulled that stunt. Instead, he hoped that this mean little dog would grow into a well-behaved adult. Unfortunately, we never got to find out because two weeks later, someone stole Doja from the backyard. Damn those shady characters hanging out in the alley! (Rene later corrected this version of events: Doja got out from the yard and never came back. She was not stolen; someone must have taken her in after finding her.)

A few months later, guess what? Henry came home with another dog. And this time the dog was a furry red chow chow. He was really cute.

Chuy and Princess (left) circa 2002

I happened to come up with the perfect name for the dog: Chewbacca, since he looked like a wookie from Star Wars. It was shortened to Chewy sometime later, which Henry spelled X-U-I W-E-I on account of his Chinese ancestry. I spelled it C-H-U-Y because that's the way I like the name spelled.

(Coincidentally, Chuy is the nickname given to some Mexican men named Jesus, and the only reason we know this is because one time our vet asked if our dog's real name was Jesus. It was hilarious. Sometimes we call the dog Jesus Canizales.)

Chuy lived with Henry for his first three years, and acted as a furry security alarm. Basically, he was a guard dog that stayed outside to protect the house when no one was home. Because Chuy was outside a lot of the time, and because they had moved away to Palmdale soon after he became part of the family, Chuy was lonely. And he didn't interact a lot with people so he had poor manners. I was not a member of the Chuy Canizales fan club at this time.

Then Henry moved into an apartment complex. Since the complex did not allow dogs, we offered to take Chuy in so that our dog Princess (bless her soul) could have a friend. This was back in 2004.

I'll be honest: at first I didn't like Chuy. Even though he was cute, his fur was matted and dirty. He smelled. He didn't socialize with people much so he lunged at guests. He tugged really hard at his leash whenever we took a walk and dragged me along. He didn't know how to communicate potty breaks so one time he pooped over our hall carpet. The SMELL woke me up at 2 a.m. and I didn't finish cleaning the carpet until 6 a.m. And to top it off, he was always trying to hump Princess, who was having none of it and had to beat him off daily. Surely, this dog was a temporary guest in our home.

Little by little this furry thing started to win me over. At first it was the little things: he would stare at me when I was watching TV, trying to get my attention (puppy dog eyes - who could resist?). He would come sit next to me at home. He would rub up next to me, begging to be petted whenever he got a chance. As time went by, I fell in love with the dog. His little idiosyncrasies became funny, and his personality started to shine through. The more time I spent with Chuy, the more I liked him, and I finally asked Henry to let us have him sometime in 2005. He's my dog now.

Chuy was a wonderful addition to our little family. We already had Princess, who was a terrific dog, and now she had company during the day. He adored Princess; sometimes I wonder if he remembers her being a part of his life.

Now that we have moved back into my parent's house, Chuy has a new set of friends to make. When he first got here he was wary of these people because he didn't spend much time with them before; now he's making friends with everyone. Chuy is the first to greet my mom at the door at night. When my dad watches TV, Chuy scoots his butt near his hand so that my dad can pet him. My brother has forgiven Chuy for biting his jacket sleeve and now refers to him as "Louie." My sister loves having him around and walks him when she can. Even my niece Sabrina is warming up to him, slowly but surely. At first she didn't even want him in the house, now she cops a feel every once in a while.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if Chuy never came into my life, and it makes me sad. He gives me so much without asking for anything in return, and makes me look forward to coming home every day. What more can I ask for in a friend?

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