Leesa is cuddling her hairless dog, Chiquita, before embarking on an early evening walk.
“Because she doesn’t have any hair, she gets very cold,” Leesa says, pointing out the bright, fleece onesie the pup is wearing. “This time of the season I usually put a base-layer on her everyday.”
Chiquita has a crate-full of possibilities to choose from.
“She has more clothes than I do!” Leesa laughs, showing me what’s in the crate. There are more than 50 fashions, from casual t-shirts to cozy turtleneck sweaters to costumes, like a Jack O’ Lantern.
Leesa picks a Canucks jacket for tonight. Chiquita stands on her hind legs and reaches out her front paws to slip-on the sleeves.
Once she’s all zipped-up, Chiquita’s tail starts wagging before jumping into a stroller for a ride around the neighbourhood.
The 13-year-old rescue is a Xoloitzcuintli; a 3,000-year-old dog breed that Leesa says were used by the Aztecs to heal their afflictions.
“For example, if they had a hip problem they would hold the dog there in the night,” Leesa says. “The warmth from the dog would make them feel better.”
Now, Chiquita is making her neighbours feel better in an unexpected way.
“She’s just a great animal to have around,” says Owen, a boy who lives nearby.
He was standing to the right of my camera during the interview with Leesa, before pointing out the animal who was running in the background of the shot.
“Squirrely-Whirrley,” he says. It is the name of a dark squirrel who seems to always be near us.
“Squirrely-Whirrley,” Leesa laughs. “Very original [name]!”
Leesa says Squirrely-Whirrley just wandered into her home a few months ago.
While she started to steal a peanut, Squirrely-Whirrley stopped to take in Chiquita.
“At first [she was thinking], ‘Ah crap! That’s a huge animal! I’ve got to get out of here!’” Owen says, imaging Squirrely-Whirrley’s first reaction to seeing Chiquita.
But she kept coming back — perhaps hoping to get another peanut — or maybe to marvel at what Chiquita would be wearing.
“She saw Chiquita over and over,” Owen says. “And eventually when Squirrely-Whirrley comes up the [front] steps and Chiquita comes out, it’s perfectly fine.”
Perhaps it’s the beginning of a friendship. But definitely, the combination of Squirrely-Whirrley and Chiquita the Fashinista — like the Aztecs and Xoloitzcuintli before them — is making people feel better.
“It’s really cute and awesome,” Owen says.
“It makes me smile,” Leesa adds. “It’s just an extra special treasure for me.”