top of page
  • Writer's picturejonathan bagnato

The Story Of Squiggles

Lessons in never giving up, finding faith in humanity and the 10,000 dollar dog.

I've heard people say owners tend to look like their dogs.

And maybe we may not look like it, but perhaps it's our stories that are alike. I think at some point in life, you either believe in magic, or you don't. You can call it the universe, God, a higher power- really tho who knows? In the end, you believe you have faith. I don't want to say that life is fated; that means we wouldn't have free will, sometimes things happen, people meet, hearts open, and life finds a way, someway to serendipitously workout. And when you have no way to explain the extra-ordinary, maybe then we can find magic in the small things. And not much comes smaller than 3.5lb Squiggles, a.k.a Chiquita. So here is the epic journey of a tiny creature that couldn't stand, homeless, starving, prey for every other animal, and on the brink of death.

There were 2,900 miles between her and me. An entire country. The sequence of events that ultimately brought us together was anything but ordinary.

I certainly wasn't looking to adopt a dog from out of state. It took me so long to adopt a dog because I was so lazy I didn't want to go anywhere outside 15 miles. I wanted to meet the dog in person. Cause I felt how can I get a feeling if this pup is for me. Owning a pet- ANY pet is a big responsibility, and hopefully, a long, long commitment. I'm big on energy, vibes, crystals, and shit. Yeah, I light my sage and walk around the house with the windows open my walls are also pink- deal with it. Needless to say, I wanted to, "Check my pets vibe..." that's why it was so vital for me to meet this dog I was going to adopt.

Six maybe eight months go by, Petfinder, all the .orgs, and other agencies I could go through. I was specific. I wanted an Apple Head Chiuhaha. That was it- no room for wiggles- pun very much intended. I had my heart set, and I knew when the time was right, I would find the pup for me. Being this was my first dog as an adult- that was my responsibility, I took it even more seriously.

Time went on, days, half a year I told a few friends I was looking, but my search kinda died down after a while. I was ok with it- considering I felt, "Everything happens for a reason."

And one of my favorite lines of all time, From LOTR,

A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to". - Gandalf the Grey.

I kinda felt like this was life. And my hopes for a little Chi chi started to wane.

One day, a fellow yoga teacher, Shauna, tagged me in this post about this little dog. I clicked on the tag and saw her.

I was like, that is my dog.

Instantly I DMed the woman whose Instagram it was. She''s like, "Look- this dog pretty much just started walking she's not ready to be adopted. But you can fill out the application." And so I did- instantly and I then immediately wrote her back- she's like, "We'll be in touch." -cool-

The next morning I emailed the organization and like what's up with the dog as if she would be suddenly perfect 12 hours later. They said we got your app; you're first in line, we will reach out. I think I emailed them every day for a week or two about her; I DMed the foster mom basically daily for updates and progress. I wasn't letting this go.

Finally, I get a call. The woman I spoke to ran the non-profit chihuahua rescue. She's like, "We're good." My heart stopped, I was starting to get really excited and happy- and anyone that knows me, or knows I suffered from PTSD from the war, knows- it's hard to get me very excited for anything. I was approved to get "Chiquita," the name they had given her. This was good.

I was getting pictures of her progress and rehab for about two weeks. My application was approved. Now time for the home visit. And it was then we realized our Chiquita was across the country in Oakland, California, and I was in New Jersey. Shit. They quickly said, "No." Simply because they were a small organization and didn't have the funds, I was heartbroken.

But then I realized. If I wasn't willing to invest in her, this little thing, and go to the ends of the earth for my dog- did I really deserve her?

I mean, honestly, think about it? We throw around the word "Love." so much- but then we say, "don't say hate. It's such a strong word." Well, so is love.

I was willing to go to the ends of the earth for this little malnourished, barely a pound creature that could hardly stand on her own two, four legs, that despite being picked up off the streets passed out, thought for dead. She didn't give up. Feeding tubes, IV's, she wanted to live. How could I do any less? She was a fighter, broken, scared, and lost. Sound familiar? I told the owner pretty much all this in an impassioned speech that probably sounded like I was crazy. But it worked. She listened.

Days went by. I kept emailing. I told them I would fly out there as many times as needed. I told them I would fly them out here, and I'd put them up in a hotel, take them to NYC, hang out, Jersey Shore type of shit.

And then, like that- my persistence paid off. They were going to do it; they were going to let me take Chiquita home. But I had to wait for two months because she wasn't recovered. She was so severely malnourished and injured; she needed a lot of rehab to be brought back from the dead. Same girl. Same.

Time stood still. I made my plans to go to Oakland, California. Now I've been all over California while in the Military, and honestly, I wouldn't say I liked it. I didn't get it didn't understand the weird people and the creepy vibe. Wasn't for me. But Chiquita, soon to be known as Squiggles, was- so I was going.

The day comes- I fly out. In the two months prior, I started to become friends with someone there. That is an entirely another story- but they managed to make my stay "magical" Between the foster parents, the company owner, and my mysterious friend. In a little less than a week, I became immersed in the city. I saw things I never would've seen without the personal tours. I ate food I never would've found, and I had a moment looking out in the sunset on a mausoleum I will always remember. But most importantly, I met Chiquita, and I fell in love.

The days went fast. Chiquita was still sick, still not recovered. Somewhere around the 3rd day, they let me know I may not be able to take her home. She had a massive infection in her mouth that, if not dealt with, could kill her. And the day came and went- and I got back on the plane to New Jersey without Chiquita. I was devastated.

There were only two flights more depressing than this one. Headed to Iraq, and when I was coming home from Italy the second time. One of the worst experiences is sitting on a plane, alone, with all your thoughts and sadness. So you pop on your most depressing playlist, put on your sunglasses to pretend like your, "sleeping" but just holding back tears.

I came home; everyone was like, "Where's the dog?" I couldn't even really answer. Once again, time went by. The woman said after Chiquita heals from her surgery, they'd figure something out. Of course- I offered to go back out there. A few months passed, I kept in touch, got the updates, started to lose hope. And then they said- They were going to fly her to me. They were going to come to bring her to New Jersey and finish what we all started. At this point, I knew the owner was fed the fuck up with me. Even though she was terrific, I knew the foster mom fell in love with Chiquita and didn't want to give her up- pretty much everything was kinda against both Squiggles and me.

But then the day came after months of emails, texts, close to ten thousand dollars. Between medical bills, flights, hotels, and whatever else. My 3.5lb, the toothless old lady, shows up in New Jersey. And the rest is pretty much history.

So I guess the moral of this story. Is to not give up and to know what will will be. You can do your best, you can try your all, and if things don't work out-, at least you know you can go to bed at night having done your best as a pet owner, as a friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend, wife or husband - mom or dad. All we can ever do is our best, armed with the knowledge of what we know at the moment.

Maybe I don't look like Squiggles, but I feel like she looks, and sometimes when I think how bad my life is. I think about her journey 3,000 miles away left for dead, but she found a way back to the home she was always meant to be. We may not always be where we want to be in life, but that doesn't mean we aren't exactly where we need to be.

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page