When I arrived at my home for this year, I was immediately welcomed into the Morocho-Guapacasa family by all of my new relatives… Well, almost all of them. There was one family member who made it clear from the start that he did not like me one bit. He yapped loudly, growled at me, and nipped my ankles. I’m sure his tail would’ve been between his legs if he had one.
My brother, Juan Carlos, is the proud owner of a tiny chihuahua named Randi. Randi is the most jealous, over-protective dog I have ever met, and we have had something of a complicated relationship for some time now. I should probably mention, to be fair, that I have a history of disliking chihuahuas. At any rate, the timeline has gone something like this…
Week 1: Randi hates Abby. He seems to be convinced that Abby is a temporary intruder. He yaps piercingly loudly every time he sees her. If she gets too close, he growls as menacingly as a tiny chihuahua can and hides under the closest piece of furniture (usually the kitchen table or Juan Carlos’s bed). If he sees her in her room, he stands in the doorway barking until she gets up to close the door, and he continues barking as he runs away.
Week 2: Randi distrusts Abby. He is beginning to learn that he will have to get used to her being around the house. He accepts food from her only if she places it on the ground but not if it remains in her hand. Whenever she is in the room, he keeps one eye on her and makes sure to keep his distance. If Juan Carlos is nearby, he makes sure she does not come too close to him, and he lets out a quiet growl to let her know if she does.
Week 3: Randi trusts Abby sometimes. If Juan Carlos is not in the house, Randi accepts food from Abby’s hand. If there is something on the table that he wants, he puts his front paws on her leg, but he backs up as soon as she moves. When Juan Carlos is out, he will allow her to pet him only if she is seated, and he will put his front paws in her lap if she stops petting him before he is done. He is comfortable with Juan Carlos sitting next to her on the couch.
Week 4: Randi trusts Abby completely. Whether or not Juan Carlos is home, Randi accepts food from Abby’s hand. He allows her to pet him whenever she wants. He lets her pick him up, hold him on her lap, and even walk around with him in her arms. If Juan Carlos won’t pet him, Abby is his second choice, and he will sit in her lap, even with Juan Carlos in the same room. Abby is no longer a threat; she is a family member.
I know this process may seem trivial, but to me it has been a major achievement. Randi has tested my patience and my pain tolerance, but we both made it out stronger than we were when we started. I view the gaining of Randi’s trust as total acceptance into the family. Randi’s tentative acceptance of me has turned the Morocho-Guapacasas into my second family and their home into mine. He has maybe even turned me into a reluctant chihuahua-tolerator.