Ay Chihuahua!

Scooter is different from his other Chihuahua friends.

Kevin Nortz / The Herald

Nala, a 4-month-old Chihuahua, peeks over the shoulder of her owner, Gilberto Chavez, at the Pacific Northwest Chihuahua Rescue Gathering at Wenberg State Park on Saturday. The festival’s guest of honor was Scooter (below), whose back legs are paralyzed. Donations made at the festival will help purchase a wheelchair for Scooter.

The paralyzed dog drags his back two legs whenever he walks. He can’t walk on cement, or else his back legs will be scratched by the pavement.

But with help from some of the nearly 300 people who turned out for the seventh annual Pacific Northwest Chihuahua Rescue Gathering at Wenberg State Park on Saturday, Scooter may soon be able to run with the other dogs.

Organizers hoped to collect donations to help Scooter get a doggie wheelchair, pay for his $1,000 MRI, and maybe find a caring home.

“Oh my baby, my sweet baby boy,” festival organizer and Falls City resident Sher Wardrip said as she cuddled Scooter on Saturday afternoon. “He wants to walk with the other dogs, so we need to get him a wheelchair.”

Inspired by a children’s book called “How Willy Got his Wheels,” about a Chihuahua who uses a wheelchair to get around, Wardrip hopes donations made at the festival will get Scooter scootin’ in no time.

The picnic area at the park along Lake Goodwin was swarming with people – and Chihuahuas. Lots of Chihuahuas.

Chihuahuas on leashes. Chihuahuas in cages. Chihuahuas in baby pens. Chihuahuas on laps. Chihuahuas going through obstacle courses. Chihuahuas in costumes.

“It’s just so heartwarming that so many people care about dogs,” said Wardrip, wearing a shirt with a picture of a Chihuahua on it and sporting dog-paw shapes painted on her nails.

Chris Hurst, a 14-year-old from Clear Lake, was manning a booth selling Chihuahua watches and other items at the festival. His grandparents, who breed dogs and have about 20 Chihuahuas at their house, were there to sell Chihuahua gear and let festival-goers use their obstacle course.

“If I lay down on the ground they all start coming after you,” Hurst said of his canine companions. “It’s pretty funny until they start licking the boogers out of your nose.”

Hurst said he’s trained two Chihuahuas so far, but he isn’t sure whether he wants a Chihuahua-related career.

But he was looking forward to seeing how his 1 1/2-year-old Chihuahua, Latino, would do in the costume contest later that day. Latino would be dressed as a bullfighter, Hurst said.

At this rate, however, Hurst may end up like Wardrip.

Wardrip said she’s had about 40 Chihuahuas stay at her house in the last seven years. She’s got seven at home now.

“It just sort of snowballed,” Wardrip said.

Now she specializes in Chihuahua rejects. “I take the ones nobody wants,” she said.

Wardrip’s got Bobby Sue, who has no eyes. She’s got Mojo, who has only a flap of cartilage for a lower jawbone. And she’s got Bessie, who’s just – special.

“Be a demon!” Wardrip tells Bessie while holding the Chihuahua and scrunching her fist in front of the dog’s face.

Bessie rolls back her lips, showing bared teeth. Her paws fall to her side and her ears go back.

“Be an angel!” Wardrip says, spinning her finger in the air.

Bessie purses her lips, her ears go straight up and her paws come together in the air, as if in prayer.

The Chihuahua’s tricks are as bizarre as her real name, which is “Dona Bella Vaca” – a combination of Spanish and Italian, Wardrip said. Translated, it means “Lady Pretty Cow.”

“Because she’s a lady, pretty and looks like a cow,” Wardrip said. “But we call her Bessie, which is a pretty good name for a cow.”

Reporter Chris Collins: 425-339-3436 or ccollins@ heraldnet.com.

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