Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tico the Evil Cha-hoo-ya-hoo-ya

I’m certain that most of you have delightfully warm memories about your childhood dog. I, however, do not. While my friends were cuddled up with their sweet Boxers, Labradors and Collies, an evil five pound Chihuahua had me fearing for my life.

His name was Tico, but he was better known as The Antichrist.

I swear, this dog hated everybody except for one person: my mother. Mom felt obligated to keep him because she figured that if she gave him away to another family they would either bring him back or have her arrested for attempted murder. Mean and vicious wouldn’t even begin to describe the temperament of this dog. To put things in perspective: the theme song to The Exorcist would play in your head whenever he approached.

Tico didn’t even growl normally; it sounded more like a possessed chipmunk gargling Scope. Just before he would strike his lip would twitch and curl, exposing his razor sharp, gnashing yellow teeth. His tongue would quiver and his eyes would bulge out of their sockets. Then he’d take a deep breath, hold it in his lungs for a moment, and then begin gargling, "...ethzzz...ethzzz...ethzzz..." building in intensity, "...ethzzz...ethZZZ...ETHZZZ..." until he was ready to attack. And it was never just one bite! His vicious little jaws would come down over and over with a loud and ferocious, "Aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye!" ...Yeesh! Makes me shiver just thinking about it.

When my friends came to my house to visit they would run in mortal fear as soon as they saw Tico round the corner and he would chase them down, nipping at any exposed skin within reach. If he wasn’t in the mood to bite, he’d quietly sneak up on you, lift his leg, and piddle on your ankle instead. This happened to my dear friend Maggie, who to this day still refers to him as Pee-co.

Tico was also known as “The Dog that Wouldn’t Die."

Allow me to explain:

I came home from school one day and found my mother sitting on the couch crying. Through her sobs, she told me that Tico had been run over by a car… a Chevy van to be exact. He was at the veterinarian with a broken leg, punctured lung, and internal bleeding, and he was not expected to live. I sat beside Mom and held her hand sympathetically, but inside my head I was screaming, “I’m free! I’m free!” …Somehow, Tico hung on. He came home to my mother with a cast on his leg two weeks later.

The next time I came home to my mother crying on the couch was when he was mauled by a German Shepherd. She said he was practically torn to pieces and was at the vet again, not expected to live. I sat beside Mom and held her hand sympathetically, but the same litany returned to fill my mind: “I’m free! I’m free! …I think.” Unfortunately for me, Tico once again survived. He was back home two weeks later.

The final time I came home from school and found my mother crying on the couch was a week after a man rented the house next door to ours. Growing tired of Tico’s constant gargling at him through the backyard fence, he'd pulled out his .22 caliber rifle and plugged Tico through both of his lungs. The neighbor went to jail and Tico went to the vet yet again, not expected to live. I sat beside Mom and held her hand sympathetically, but this time I said to myself, “He’ll be back.” One month later Tico was back in the house, gargling and biting.

I feel it’s important to mention that my mother had to take him to three different veterinarians. The first two were so terrified of Tico they asked Mom to find another vet--yes, he was that vicious. The first vet called him The Snapping Cobra. The second said he was "as mean as a hornet." The third vet was able to handle Tico, but the clinic staff referred to him as Rosemary’s Baby.

It would be another 17 years until Tico finally bit the dust instead of our ankles. Of all things, he died of natural causes. Even in his geriatric years, hair falling out and barely able to stand, he still would try with all his might to bite a passing ankle. Actually, he was "gumming" us because by that time all of his teeth had fallen out, too.

Although living with Tico was like living with a rattlesnake who had free reign of the house, whenever I gather with high school and college friends we talk about Tico the Evil Chi-hoo-ya-hoo-ya with great mirth. Looking back, I guess it wasn’t so bad after all…

Um… No, I take that back. It was definitely a living hell.