“Watch people and how they interact with pets, and it tells you something about them,” says Dr. Drew Pinsky, best known as co-host of MTV’s “Loveline.”
Dr. Drew – as he’s called – is also a consultant and commentator for CBS TV’s “Big Brother” series.
On August 9, a new house mate was added to the collection of citizens who are allowing TV and Internet cameras to follow their every on the Big Brother set. Sensing the new housemate wasn’t another person, Brittany pleaded out loud. “Oh, please let it be a dog.”
Her wish came true. The newest member of the “Big Brother” household, seen pretty much every night on CBS, is Chiquita, a 5 year-old old, bowlegged and smelly pug.
Pugs can’t swim very well. But Chiquita didn’t read the pug handbook, and proceeded to immediately waddle into the back yard and jump right smack into the wading pool on coast-to-coast live TV. Houseguest Josh instinctively dove in after her. He didn’t wait a second to mull it over, or even to take off his shoes. In he went. He gently scooped up Chiquita and deposited her on dry land. Then, he looked down at himself in disbelief, as if to say ‘I got wet!’
“I think the public learned a little about Josh’s personality,” says Dr. Drew. “He’s very sensitive, and doesn’t hesitate to think of others before he thinks of himself.”
In fact, there was an online movement with the campaign theme: “Save Josh! He Saved The Dog”
Josh apparently did maneuver his way into the heart of viewers. He received few votes from the public to be banished from the house. And what the public thinks matters big time, since every other week the public votes by telephone to boot a houseguest. The last surviving houseguest on this voyeuristic TV series wins $500,000.
While each of the house mates on “Big Brother” had to send an audition videotape to impress producers in order to get on the show, Chiquita had no such problems.
Chiquita was living with a college student whose landlord said, ‘You can’t have a dog.’ She relinquished the pooch to Sherrie Woodbury of Little Angels Pug Rescue in Los Angeles, Calif.
Chiquita, most likely a product of a backyard breeder, arrived at pug rescue with an assortment of health problems. Surgery was required to correct a huge umbilical hernia and a nose fold that was so massive it caused eye irritation. Chiquita also suffers from chronic bladder infections and periodic ear infections. On top of everything else, she had kennel cough.
Chiquita is one of ten to 30 dogs dumped on the Little Angels rescue each month. “This is California, no wonder the reason most often given for giving up a dog is ‘I want to devote more time for myself,” says Woodbury. “This is the disposable capital of the world. When we adopt out our dogs, we try very hard to screen the homes, then we just cross our fingers that all will work out. It’s not every rescue group that can follow their dog on the Internet and on national TV. If I don’t like what I see – I’m in there like a commando, and I’ll rescue Chiquita.”
This ability to watch Chiquita interact with the housemates is why Woodbury consented to allow Chiquita in the “Big Brother House.” She says the exposure on national TV will give rescue groups media attention. However, lots of so-called animal activists don’t exactly see it that way. The “Big Brother” program, and Woodbury have been inundated by email complaining about Chiquita’s living conditions and dysfunctional housemates.
The first order of business was erecting a fence around the pool. “As soon as Chiquita took her dive on national TV, the producer picked up his phone and answered, ‘Yes, Sherrie, we’re putting up the fence.’ They did.
The houseguests will have to follow a detailed schedule in order to provide Chiquita her assorted medications. Then, there are the usual pug irritants, snoring and flatulence. What’s more, Chiquita is not dependably housebroken.
Dr. Drew predicts that since George (a Big Brother house mate) will continue to miss his children, Chiquita will become a sort of surrogate child. Brittany will find the cuddle partner she’s been searching for. Whoever feeds the dog and dispenses the pills may sort of act like the dog is his or hers, and expect extra privileges with the dog. And another housemate, Cassandra, has winced at Chiquita’s pug bouquet on more than one occasion. Chiquita has made Curtis miserable; he turns out to be allergic to her.
“As for (house mate) Eddie, he’s got a thing for flatulence,” says Dr. Drew. “So, he’ll be the first one to say ‘the dog did it.”
“As the weeks continue, I don’t know if the house mates will be able to trust one another,” says Woodbury. “But they can depend on Chiquita to keep secrets. They can also depend on Chiquita to relieve tension. Pugs have a sense of humor.”
Dr. Drew agrees, “Overall, the house will be better off for having a dog. It feels good to pet dogs, it’s fun to play with dogs – but the brain chemistry actually responds in ways we’re still learning about (when you live with dogs).”
Having a dog can lower blood pressure, and help people feel better about themselves. Dr. Drew adds, “When Chiquita walks into a room, you can see the smiles on their faces. It’s great to see the benefit of having a dog on national television.”
As for Chiquita, Woodbury says a producer has made arrangements to permanently adopt the dog after the final episode of “Big Brother” airs.
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