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One of the more incredible tales of chihuahuas regarded a chi-father who was leading seven puppies (of different ages, from two litters) and their aging mother along the margin of Texas 151 during rush-hour traffic, managing to keep them safely off the road.

He had a deformed "cloven" foot, a birth defect likely the result of inbreeding in some puppymill. You can see his odd foot in the topmost photo; the dad is the only white chihuahua. For all his deformity, got along fine. And he seemingly had a clear idea of where he wanted to lead his homeless family.

He led them down a grassy slope away from the highway and arrived at the gate of San Antonio's Animal Care Services. "Animals come in every day," said ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood. "In this particular case, they brought themselves."

The dog-family needed treatment for ringworms and mange, one so severely manged as to be nearly bald. These fortunately were treatable. They had obviously been on their own since well before the second group of pups were born, and the theory is an illegal puppymill (perhaps under threat of discovery) had gotten rid of them quickly.

With his family of pups at risk, the daddy dog was compelled to seek human assistance. He must have known by sound or smell that dogs were well treated in the building he had in mind.

Emulating their father's behavior, the pups, though not very familiar with people, were suprisingly sociable. They were put on special hold to remain together as a family a while longer, until recovered from their medical problems. Then they were to be adopted out to families who'd have one helluva story to tell about their pets. [September 2009; photos by Jennifer Whitney]

Dad the rescuer

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