“I’ve never seen a Chihuahua that color before.” “Nice tiger print.” “What do you call that pattern?” Walking with Bessie is a bit of a public performance, but I can’t fault people for their interest. If it weren’t for Bessie’s coat, she probably wouldn’t have ended up with me.

I couldn’t have a dog. I lived in a Brooklyn apartment—one that was relatively big at 900 square feet, but an apartment nonetheless. I didn’t have a back yard, and what’s more, dogs weren’t allowed. But that didn’t stop me from wanting a dog. I’d created a nearly impossible portrait of my mythical pup-to-be after knocking on the door of my childhood home in South Carolina and being greeted by a brindle Chihuahua. I got a tour of the house (which was much smaller than I remembered) and left with mental checklist of my dream mutt: from a shelter, an adult and a bigger Chi mix,…

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