It started when a Highland Park resident found a small chihuahua abandoned in a box. The finder reached out to Michigan Humane for help, and based on the dog’s condition and the location she was found, our Mackey Center for Animal Care in Detroit was able to take her in as a stray.

Our Shelter Medicine team, including long-time staff member and notorious chihuahua-lover Diane, evaluated her condition. They realized she was older—they guessed about 12 years—and missing most of her teeth. Her jaw was smaller than normal, and she had some deformities in her rear legs. She also sounded “sniffly,” but didn’t show any other signs of being sick, so as soon as the legally required stray hold time was up, Diane took her home to foster and monitor.

Calling her Michelle, Diane worked with the shy, picky eater, encouraging her to come out of her shell. Michelle was living with Diane when the coronavirus pandemic began and will stay there for several months to reduce the number of animals in the shelter, alleviating some of the stress on staff working through the crisis. Over the long “shelter in place,” Michelle has warmed up to her new surroundings—especially when cheese snacks are involved—and the love and companionship between her and Diane continues to grow.

“It can start with a page on my radio, or a text on my day off. ‘Hey Diane, we have something for you at intake…’ I can’t lie, I get excited,” Diane says. “Somehow during my career at MHS I’ve been given the title of ‘The Chihuahua Person’: the tamer of the tiny beast, the one who cooks and gets them to eat. My favorite variety is the ancient. The toothless. The terrified.

“Which brings me to my current foster, Michelle. She was a tough nut to crack, and now after over a month in my home, she finally feels safe, showing off a personality that emerges a little bit more every day.”

Thanks to your support, Michelle has been given a second chance after she was abandoned, and she couldn’t be doing it in a more loving place! We are so proud of our staff and foster families who have stepped up to welcome over 400 animals into their homes during this crisis. We couldn’t do it without you!

For more information on how to foster through MHS, please visit to our foster section here.

Photo credit: Michigan Humane

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