A Chihuahua's Best Friend

By John Kelly
Thursday, November 3, 2005

A lyssa Hummel rolled the tiny glass bottle between the palms of her hands, mixing the insulin inside and warming it up.

"It stings when it's cold," the 13-year-old explained.

Chief , Alyssa's diabetic Chihuahua, looked up at her warily.

The seventh-grader put the bottle down on the coffee table in her Staunton, Va., house, then picked up a hypodermic needle and pulled back on the plunger. Each of her pink-painted fingernails was decorated with a tiny daisy, and five rubber bracelets were bunched on her right wrist.

"Then I have to draw some air into it," she said. "I'm going to give him five units, so I draw five units of air."

Alyssa picked up the now-warm insulin and poked the tip of the needle into the bottle's rubber stopper. "Then I draw the amount I'm going to give him."

She pushed on the plunger, then slowly pulled it back about a quarter of an inch.

Chief wasn't running away, exactly, but his habit of trotting up and pawing at the shin of anyone near him in search of a nice scratch had disappeared. He'd stopped making eye contact with Alyssa, too.

"Oh, poor thing," she said. "He knows it's coming."

Alyssa's mom, Kim Cormier , hadn't expected to keep Chief. He came into their lives in February, when the Mosby Foundation, a Staunton charity that works with at-risk dogs, asked Kim to foster him for a while.

She said okay, but only temporarily. They already had three dogs.

"No more dogs," Kim told them. "This is plenty for our family."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2005 The Washington Post Company