Jimmy the “Chiweenie”
A ray of light and a little bundle of resilience
The “Chiweenie” Chihuahua-Dachshund dog named Jimmy had a difficult life before writer Jenn Bankston and her family adopted him. His resilience was an inspiration – possibly bolstered by a mysterious ray of light.
The barking was incessant and as it morphed into an unnerving howl, I had to go outside and see what was happening with Jimmy, our “Chiweenie,” a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix.
In the final hour of daylight on December 31st, Jimmy was staring upwards at the sky, barking, seemingly, at an odd ray of light narrowly focused on him. I was stunned by the strange light and can’t explain what it was.
My imagination has since run further on the light. Maybe it was just the sun and some combination of reflective surfaces.
But as fascinating and creepy as the light was, it was a distraction. I was missing something major in that surreal, dreamlike moment.
Jimmy had taken his first steps without support in nearly three years.
Our family adopted Jimmy in early 2020, right before most of the U.S. shut down during the pandemic. Dachshunds are pack animals, and our household was already dominated by an alpha female, Marky Mark (a name our then 6-year-old daughter was more than a little insistent upon). Jimmy was destined for a supporting role in our household.
A Chiweenie who physically resembles more of a Dachshund, Jimmy was tormented by his previous owner. He was kicked, beaten, and neglected, and had trouble moving. Forced to fend for himself outside, he typically ate grass, mosquitoes, and flies that swarmed his small habitat.
Two weeks after his adoption, Jimmy could no longer walk. We arranged for surgery for his intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), hoping he would be able to walk again. We performed physical therapy on him daily, but he mostly dragged himself on his front paws until we fitted him for a wheelchair.
He hated the wheelchair initially and he was suspicious of what we were trying to do fitting him into it. These were not his happiest moments. However, as most dog owners know, while they are capable of registering unhappiness and complaint, dogs generally do not whine about their circumstances – they get on with it. Jimmy was our little hero, soon accepting his new situation and working hard every day to keep up with Marky and follow each of us around.
There were days he would howl when Marky jumped up on the back deck and he would not be able to join her. Or, when his wheelchair got to a sidewalk curb that had no accessible ramps, he would shake and bark. At night, he would nudge my hand, seeking ear rubs and belly pats. He still ate with gusto and would wrestle with Marky in the living room, but you could sense his general frustration sometimes. He was unable to do some of the simplest things on his own, like reach the water bowl, just a few feet away.
As defeated as Jimmy seemed at times, he remained a happy dog.
Jimmy has been a blessing to us. After three difficult years marked by the pandemic, a hurricane, a deep-freeze, a move, job changes, and serious financial hardships for close friends and family, Jimmy’s will and his new mobility has us on top of the world.
He is “Rey – Our King of Resilience” and King of Chiweenie Dogs everywhere. He is resilience personified.
My hippie mom went to Woodstock, and she gave her love of Janis Joplin to me. When I listen to Joplin’s “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” now, it means even more than it used to.
Maybe I should be thanking some unknown intelligence in that mystery light from the sky out there for helping get Jimmy on all four paws. I don’t know. But thank you, Jimmy for trying just a little bit harder and giving us the greatest gift.
Jennifer S. Bankston is President, Bankston Marketing Solutions, a strategic marketing and communications agency.
Read more pet tributes like Jimmy the Chiweenie, childhood memories, and other contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department.
Have your own childhood memories or other stories you would like to share with our baby boomer audience? View our writers’ guidelines and e-mail our editor at Annie@BoomerMagazine.com with the subject line “‘From Our Readers’ inquiry.”