By Bill Knell
She may not be able to put up with Simon Cowell and his sharp-tongued criticisms on American Idol, but Paula Abdul can’t get enough of her three Chihuahuas- Thumbelina, Tulip and Tinkerbell. There’s no doubt that if there
were an American Canine Idol contest for dog breeds, Chihuahuas would receive a solid ’YES’ from Paula when it comes to cuteness, intelligence and hug-ability! When it comes to celebrities, Paula is certainly not alone in her adoration of Chihuahuas.
Marilyn Monroe grew up in Los Angeles. As a child, she had a black and white dog that followed her to school. She named the dog Tippy and played with it during recess. A neighbor shot the dog dead in 1932 claiming that Tippy had repeatedly damaged his garden. After that incident, Marilyn seemed to have cooled to the idea of pet ownership. She shared a spaniel while staying with
the Goddard Family in 1940, but didn’t actually adopt her own pet until after she signed with Columbia Pictures about eight years later. While making movies at Columbia, Marilyn adopted a Chihuahua she named ’Choo Choo’ in 1948. One story says that Marilyn saw a few grips and camera operators playing with a Chihuahua while on a break and instantly fell in love with the Breed. Another version claims that the studio encouraged Marilyn to adopt a tiny puppy for the sake of publicity. It is more likely that she choose the pup for her own reasons.
Marilyn became a bit of a trendsetter by adopting a Chihuahua during a time when glamour dogs like toy and full-sized Poodles were considered more chic. Looking back, it was a terrific move that immediately separated her from most other Starlets of the day. The more Marilyn and her Chihuahua were seen and photographed together in public, the more interest people began to have in the Breed. Another sexy, bleached blond film goddess soon followed Marilyn’s example.
Jayne Mansfield owned at least two Chihuahuas and was said to have been an animal lover. One of her dogs died in the car accident that took her life in 1967. The following year saw the release of The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield. Perhaps the campiest semi-documentary of all time, this film had four directors and was obviously a vehicle designed to make money off her death. Filled with nude scenes and real life weirdoes, the best actor in the movie was said to have been Jayne’s Chihuahua.
Today, Paris Hilton seems to be the trendsetter when it comes to Chihuahua popularity. While it is doubtful that Paula Abdul was inspired to adopt her Chihuahuas by Paris, the two celebrities both have females named Tinkerbell. Although we haven’t seen Paula’s pets on American Idol, Paris has made her tiny toy dog a canine superstar by appearing with Tinkerbell on magazine covers and featuring her in episodes of The Simple Life series on Fox TV.
Paris once told reporters that she was inspired to adopt a Chihuahua after seeing Legally Blond, starring Reese Witherspoon and the unstoppable Bruiser. Film inspired dog adoptions are nothing new. Films like Benji, 101 Dalmatians and Beethoven had moviegoers scrambling to find look-a-likes for themselves or their children. This wasn’t always a good thing for the dogs or breed in question.
Most people who wanted a ‘Benji’ for themselves chose Yorkies, Silkies and Terrier mixes that just love to chew on anything they can find. Contrary to what was portrayed in the film, those who adopted a Dalmatian probably made the unfortunate discovery that this breed can be very temperamental and downright mean with children. As for Saint Bernard’s, few people have the space for them. Those who do may not want the huge feeding and veterinarian bills that come with such a large breed of dog.
Those who saw Legally Blond and decided they wanted a Chihuahua were pleasantly surprised. Chi’s are generally sweet animals that do not have a tendency toward destructive behavior and love to be with people. They may well be the easiest of all dog breeds to care for. One of the big advantages to owning a Chihuahua is that they love to go everywhere and are easy to transport because of their size. That suits the lifestyle of most celebrities who always seem to be on the go. It’s no wonder that so many have chosen a Chihuahua as their canine companion.
Anne Heche loves her Chihuahua and has been known to spend big bucks on all kinds of goodies for her pet. It’s been reported that Anne likes to shop at high fashion doggie stores like the pricey Fifi and Romeo which is based in Los Angeles (where else?). The Osbournes, the world’s most famous four-letter word family, also have a thing for Chihuahuas. Ozzie probably appreciates having a small dog breed that hasn’t turned his home into one large litter box as some of their bigger dogs have. Despite all the advantages of Chihuahua ownership, these canines have not always enjoyed the amount of popularity they do now.
Nasty rumors about the use of Chihuahuas in traditional Aztec ceremonies many centuries ago once left a bad taste in the mouths of small dog breed enthusiasts. Many archeologists and historians believed that Chihuahuas were eaten as part of religious ceremonies! Some still believe it. This incorrect interpretation of history was based on notes taken by conquistadors and missionary priests. They failed to understand the symbolic nature of rituals depicted on stone carvings and were likely the victims of native propaganda offered up to make the Aztecs appear even fiercer then they already were. Such stories were probably the result of the outgunned Aztecs attempting to instill fear in an enemy that possessed superior weaponry.
We now know that the Aztecs believed Chihuahuas could be used as spirit guides to help the dead find their way through the underworld. As a result, many were probably killed for the sole purpose of assisting nobles and royalty on their journey through death. They were not eaten! These ideas may have come from religious ceremonies practiced over a thousand years ago by the Toltecs. After their conquest by the Aztecs, Toltec ceremonies and rituals were adopted by their conquerors. However, there is sufficient evidence to prove that many of these rites had already been changed or abandoned by the time the conquistadors arrived.
Montezuma II, the last emperor of the Aztecs, had hundreds of Chihuahuas. Each dog had its own keeper and these animals were given royal protection. The Emperor’s love for the Breed is said to have been handed down to him by several of his predecessors who may have outlawed the killing of Chihuahuas and changed their part in religious ceremonies. By the time the Conquistadors arrived, these dogs were more pets and living good luck charms of the Emperor and Aztec nobility then anything else.
Chihuahuas have always had an almost supernatural appeal to humans. Their ability to warm the hearts of people is legendary. When you add to this the fact that Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest dogs and longest lived, is it any wonder why celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell, George Lopez, Noah Wylie and others can’t get enough of them? The votes are in. It's Chihuahuas that have caused celebrities to go to the dogs! Read more about Chihuahuas or find the perfect pup at
Author: Bill Knell Author's Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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