We all know the stereotype: Chihuahuas are mean. It had forever been a mystery to me as to why anybody would own such a crazy dog, but after living with one for a couple of years—despite the bites, the growls, the incessant barking—I finally understood. They are like evil little cats who poop outside, and those tiny moments of love and affection you get from a chihuahua make all the other bad times disappear, if only for a second.
Relocating to New York City this summer, I expected a sense of relief in moving away from Lexi, my temperamental canine roommate. She constantly sent mixed signals, sleeping in my armpit at night, growling when I tried to pick her up, and insisting on sitting in my lap only to bite me when I pet her. “What do you want from me?!” I asked.
I never learned the answer.
The moment I arrived in the city, however, I found myself missing that dread, that fear of getting bit, and the sense of validation I felt from the rare moments Lexi licked my nose. (That happened maybe five times in the three years I knew her.)
Being the land of small apartments, it’s only fitting that a large number of New Yorkers have chihuahuas of their own. They are the closest thing to a proper dog that fits the 200-square-foot lifestyle. I don’t know if I’m hyper-aware of these chihuahuas walking down the street because there are simply a ton of chihuahuas in New York, or if I’m nostalgic for the times I lived with Lexi, a dog I largely considered my enemy and foil. All I know is that every chihuahua reminds me of mean teeny Lexi, and I feel my heart swell with indescribable sadness.
Since my move, I’ve kept a dossier of these sightings on the social media website Twitter.com. The animals range from conventional to remarkable, with one constant: They are not Lexi. Still, these monsters are fascinating in their ubiquity, and of the 30-plus chihuahuas I’ve documented in the past months, I imagine a few would happily bestow upon me the unchecked aggression and rare affection I miss so much.
1) Greenpoint chihuahua walking with purpose
Chihuahua sighting. McCarren Park. pic.twitter.com/pdhB2hx6LM— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) August 22, 2015
2) Bushwick chihuahua giving me major side-eye
chihuahua in bushwick, dekalb L pic.twitter.com/D2yMGrWfXA— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) September 8, 2015
3) Chihuahua-dachshund mix means twice the anger (this one was chill, though)
Chiweenie, St. Nicholas and hart, bishwick pic.twitter.com/WtYwB9c5ez— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) September 12, 2015
4) Cart-chihuahua living in the lap of luxury
Chihuahua in a cart, Wyckoff and Stockholm, Bushwick pic.twitter.com/4z9c1bsz1a— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) September 15, 2015
5) I couldn’t figure out which one of these was the boss
TWO CHIHUAHUAS, Suydam and Wyckoff, Bushwick pic.twitter.com/ceJzZt91VE— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) September 19, 2015
6) I had to go to San Francisco to find the most punk chihuahua ever
Punk chihuahua,Haight and Cole, SF pic.twitter.com/r6AxE09s6k— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) October 8, 2015
7) Puma had a name as fierce as his ‘tude
Chihuahua named Puma, 25th and Florida, SF pic.twitter.com/CUJcjXFwEm— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) October 10, 2015
8) This Bay Area chihuahua is dressed for success
Chihuahua in a dress, Mission St and 21st, SF pic.twitter.com/X0LjaMEpe2— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) October 11, 2015
9) It gets cold cold in Brooklyn; luckily this nugget has a puffy turtleneck
Chihuahua in a turtleneck, Wyckoff and Himrod, Bushwick*— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) October 19, 2015
*it's good to be back pic.twitter.com/TBtSvOyMtt
10) The only thing better than one chihuahua in a coat is three
*THREE* chihuahuas in outerwear, 49th and Broadway, Manhattan pic.twitter.com/6wfmfEuOqB— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) October 21, 2015
11) What’s the deal with chihuahuas, anyway?
Chihuahua Seinfeld edition,112th and Broadway, UWS pic.twitter.com/SHBcBRksP1— Feliks Garcia (@feliksjose) November 21, 2015
Illustration by Max Fleishman