Sunday, June 13, 2010

Riding that train, high on Chihuahuas

Last week, a woman strolling on the beach in Galveston, Texas stumbled across a bag filled with sixteen bricks of cocaine, which is nearly enough to fuel an average season of Saturday Night Live, and which gives the woman a much better story than the most interesting thing I’ve ever found on a walk, which is a Chihuahua.

“Grab him!” a neighbor called as the Chihuahua ran into the street. Our friend Colleen, visiting for the weekend, wooed the dog-like rodent and grabbed him by the collar.

“Thanks, we’ve been trying to get our hands on him,” the neighbor said. “Not sure who he belongs to, but he looks lost.”

The animal’s tags provided no contact name, so we didn’t have much choice but to leave him with the neighbor and head on our way. A few minutes later, an SUV idled past, and the frantic driver asked if we’d seen a Chihuahua around.

“Nope, sorry,” we replied, and as he drove off, we all high-fived to celebrate a practical joke well-played. Sometimes, I wonder if he ever found his pet rodent, but the more important thing was that we all had a good laugh at his expense.

But in real life, I got in his car and drove back with him to the neighbor that was temporarily running a Chihuahua lost-and-found. Someone had to go with him, since our collective short-term memories proved insufficient to describe the house that we’d just been staring at five minutes prior.

“Your dog’s in the house around the corner. The greenish one, I think,” I said.

“Wasn’t it tan?” my wife Kara asked.

“It might have had shutters,” Colleen chimed in.

So after hopping in a stranger’s car (which I hardly ever do without the promise of candy, preferably peanut-butter-based), the man did what any responsible dog owner would do after losing his beloved family pet: blame his wife.

“I told her not to leave him tied up in the backyard alone, especially with all the hawks we have around here,” he said. He had a point. To a hawk, a Chihuahua tied to a stake in the backyard probably looks like an offering, the way the goat looked to the T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

Then he said, “I told her, ‘You want to see what fifteen-hundred dollars looks like flying off over the horizon?’”

I tried not to flinch at the number. Did you know that a Chihuahua costs as much as a 2002 Ford Windstar? I knew that purebred dogs could be expensive, but that seemed like quite a hefty price, especially if you went by weight. Chihuahua apparently costs about fifteen-hundred dollars per pound.

By comparison, our dog Memphis cost about $6.25 per pound. That’s just one of the many benefits of adopting a mutt. Or, as we prefer to think of her, a purebred American Combination Hound.

In any event, perhaps that lady in Galveston would have done better to happen upon a bag full of Chihuahuas.

Her story stuck in my mind because it contained this line, in explaining why the thirty-seven pound bag would have created over one hundred pounds of street drugs, had she not alerted the police: “Dealers typically dilute the cocaine with baby formula or some other odorless, flavorless material.”

Now I’m no drug dealer, though watching all five seasons of The Wire should count for some sort of apprentice certification, but clearly, anyone who chooses to dilute drugs with baby formula has never had a baby. One glance at our most recent Babies R’ Us receipt would show even the novice criminal that it would be much more cost-effective to dilute cocaine with something less expensive than baby formula, such as more cocaine.

You can return Mike Todd to his rightful owner at

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