By Elizabeth Xu
When Sasha, a long-haired Chihuahua, recently visited the beach for the first time, her owner, Torre Giller, couldn’t help but be reminded of how far she’s come since Giller adopted the senior pup in 2014.
“She used to be so scared and unsure,” Giller said. “I remember her trying to figure out what grass was. After she mastered that, she got introduced to snow.” While Sasha wasn’t exactly a fan of the water, her first beach trip was still a success in Giller’s eyes.
When Underdog Rescue in Minnesota took in Sasha, she’d lived the first eight years of her life in a puppy mill in Oklahoma. She had been used for breeding, then became injured and was sold for just a penny.
“Many times the breeders will basically give dogs away that they don't want anymore,” said Lacey Crispigna, the assistant director at Underdog Rescue. “I think sometimes the auction house requires some amount of money, so $0.01 was chosen. The other option was probably euthanasia.”
One of Sasha’s legs was in such bad condition that it needed to be amputated not long after her rescue. Amputating Sasha’s leg was clearly the best move for her, and Giller said that Sasha’s foster mom, the one who cared for Sasha before she got adopted, said Sasha used to drag her injured leg around and instantly seemed better without it.
“She doesn’t mind having three legs at all,” Giller said. “We have an acre property and she runs all the way out to the edge; having three legs doesn’t stop her. She rules the roost here.”
Being a “tripod” doesn’t slow Sasha down when it’s time to eat, either. Come dinner time, she always beats her four-legged siblings to the food bowls—all four of them. Giller says she’s also the one deciding when dinnertime is for all of them.
Though she still bears the marks of long hours and days spent in a crate, today Sasha is a completely different dog than the one Giller adopted, she says, noting that at first Sasha wouldn’t make any sounds or move very much.
“Now she’s such a dog,” she said. “All the stuff she didn’t do before [she does now]; she’ll play with little chewy things and she’ll run and she’s just started to come when called.”
Sasha came to be with Giller’s family in an interesting way, and Giller laughs now as she tells the story—the story of how she initially wasn’t interested in adopting Sasha, but her wife was.
“My wife found her on PetFinder, saw the picture and absolutely fell in love with her,” Giller said, adding that her wife loves long-haired Chihuahuas. “I was all, ‘No, I’m not really a fan of little dogs.’ I’ve always had big shepherds and we had three already, a house full.”
Giller’s wife prevailed and they went to meet Sasha, who won Giller over, too.
“She was so tiny and scared and I just tried to hold her and let her know everything was okay,” Giller said. “After we adopted her and got her home, she was supposed to be my wife’s dog [but] she chose me. She wants to be in the room I’m in, and she follows me.”
Though Sasha’s story started out sad for her, things are clearly looking up. Giller is making sure of it.
“She decided that I’m her person and she’s totally my dog. She’s completely wrapped around my heart. Anything she wants, she gets.”
Photo courtesy of Torre Giller.