Richard, small dog attitude, big dog personality

A few things happened to King, now known as Richard, on his way to finding his new family. The wait was worth it, though, for this 1-year old Chihuahua, who is small in stature but now living large.

In December, Richard was relinquished to the Dumb Friends League when his owner was unable to care for the pup. Richard’s dad said he was friendly with adults, kids as young as 3 and strangers. With the freedom to roam his house during the day, Richard was content and enjoyed a good lap to rest his head on during the evenings and covers to squirm under at night. Richard liked his comfort, and frankly, who doesn’t?

As sometimes happens when they’re frightened and in new or unknown situations, pets start to exhibit certain behaviors that need to be, well, readjusted. If only we could reason with animals and assure them everything is going to be fine! When approached, the pup with the personality was hesitant and snapped at his leash, retreated to the corner of his kennel and sometimes trembled. Although, through it all, Richard was happy to accept a tasty treat or two on his own terms.

Richard was enrolled in the League’s Canine Courage Behavioral program, which uses positive reinforcement training to help pups overcome challenges such as fear, overstimulation, body handling issues or frustration. And, after the six sessions, the pup who leaned more toward the challenging side, made fantastic strides. He solicited attention, strongly leaned into pets, let staff and volunteers hold him on their laps and he ate treats from their hands. Progress!

In January, Richard was ready to find a new family. At that same time, Maja and her husband recently lost their 17-year old Chihuahua who, Maja jokes, lived up to the infamous small dog attitude, and the couple knew they wanted to rescue another Chihuahua with a big personality. The couple moved to the area about a year ago and became “frequent lookers” at the Quebec Street Shelter. “The staff, volunteers, clean environment and overall well-being of the animals at the shelter was a huge draw for us when we decided we were ready to adopt, and we began checking the website daily,” said Maja. Additionally, Maja, who worked at a shelter in Texas before moving to Colorado, knew they wanted to adopt a pup who may be overlooked due to medical or behavioral issues.

Enter Richard.

One afternoon, Maja stumbled upon Richard’s photo on the League’s website, and she recalled his expression was a bit aloof as if he thought he was too good to have his picture taken. Some dogs! When Maja read that Richard was having a hard time adjusting to the shelter and was working on some behavioral issues, she immediately sent her husband the link to Richard’s bio. The next thing the couple knew, they were on their way to meet the pup.

“While we were meeting Richard, he seemed to like us but was also somewhat disinterested,” said Maja. “It was like he was trying to tell us ‘okay, great we all like each other, let’s go home now!’ He just seemed to click with us, and we knew instantly we couldn’t leave without him. It can be difficult to adopt after the loss of another pet, but it felt like he was meant to be a part of our family.”

Before adopting Richard, League staff spoke with Maja and her husband about the behavior issues seen at the shelter, as well as how to transition into the family and his new home, positive reinforcement and other information to help the pup adjust. Maja’s experience as a behavior counselor at another shelter was sure to help Richard in his new environment.

“Richard has really blossomed since coming home and continues to surprise us and make us laugh with new quirks each day,” said Maja. “Richard overall has adjusted perfectly. Of course, with any new dog, there is a learning curve and a period of adjustment, but he has had no problem making himself right at home.”

When Maja and her husband met Richard, they knew he hadn’t been around other dogs, and since they already had Manny, a 60-pound Labrador, they took introductions slowly. “Richard surprised us and became Manny’s shadow in a matter of hours!” said Maja. “Richard spends his days following ‘his big dog’ around, grooming him and trying to get him to play constantly. When it’s bedtime, Richard brings stuffed animals into their bed for them both to sleep with. Manny seemed very depressed after the passing of our other Chihuahua, and Richard has helped him heal immensely. He’s now acting like a 10-year-old puppy!”

Richard is enjoying his new life and begs to be picked up and carried around the house while he rests his head on his mom’s shoulder. Initially, the pup with the large personality was skeptical about his new wardrobe of coats and other outfits, but now the sweet pup goes to his clothes bin and puts his legs up to help dress himself. Like his young human counterparts, Richard pulls out his toys from his toy bin, scatters them about and walks away leaving his mom and dad to collect the carnage. That dog is now living quite the life.

“Adopting adult dogs is such a rewarding experience!” said Maja. “Richard has become an irreplaceable member of our family in such a short time. He was ready to go hiking and then curl up on the couch right away. Plus, he sleeps through the night without needing to be potty trained, he’s perfect!”

“We wanted to express our deepest gratitude to all the staff and volunteers at Dumb Friends League, particularly a special thanks to the veterinary and behavior teams as were sure Richard did not make life easy for them!” said Maja. “We know in a lot of shelters due to Richard’s behavior issues, he likely wouldn’t have been a candidate for adoption, so thank you to everyone who took the time to work with him and gave him a chance. We were told that if Richard displayed new behaviors in our home, League staff were here to help. We’ve even received follow-up calls to check in on how he was adjusting. We love him dearly, and he has been such a gift and light in our lives (even with his sassy attitude!)”

To learn more about pets available for adoption, visit our adoptions page or call 303.751.5772. All adoptions include spay or neuter surgeries, age-appropriate vaccinations, a microchip ID and a free wellness visit with a participating veterinarian.