My little girl Millie crossed the Rainbow Bridge on July 8, 2021. Millie was a tiny, precious Applehead Chihuahua who was a gift to me by my spouse Paul in June 2006. She entered our lives with an abundance of energy, unconditional love, and cuteness that kept us in stitches and on our toes.  Once, she did a waterless ski adventure by holding onto our German Shepherd Netter’s tail and skiing down the hallway. This was a sight to see, and I sometimes erupt into laughter recalling the event.

Along with the laughter and cuteness, however, came some trauma. One day while we were away, Sheba, our blind Labradoodle and Knetter, our 120-pound German Sheppard managed to get into our locked-up stash of chocolates, which we assumed resulted in a struggle between Sheba and tiny Millie. We returned home to find Millie with one eye hanging from her socket, and we rushed to get her to the veterinarian. 

After a quick surgery and a night of sleepless waiting, we were told that she would have only partial sight in that eye. Later, we would become a bit grateful for the damaged eye, which was somewhat resistant to a common eye defect in Chihuahuas that would eventually result in the loss of sight in the other eye.

Sometime later, other birth defects began to manifest in Millie. This prompted us to take her to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The Cornell veterinary team, with much gentleness and love, diagnosed Millie with a grade six heart murmur, the most severe. Following that diagnosis, we found out that she was suffering from patellar luxation, which means that the kneecap that normally sits on the groove of the femur was out of alignment. Despite the eye problems and other disabilities, Millie proved to be a trooper and did not slow down until her final years as she attempted to adjust to the difficulties she faced. There is something though that never slowed, and that was the abundance of love and joy she brought to others.

Millie’s heart murmur diagnosis and a news report about another Chihuahuas named Mia led my spouse and I to visit a loving, compassionate organization called The Mia Foundation in December 2013. This visit, along with her diagnosis, ignited my passion to create MBJungle Foundation in 2014. Millie was set on her path to stardom by appearing in Dogster Magazine in a beautiful and heartwarming article written by Heather Marcoux describing MBJungle’s efforts to bring awareness of and education about the interactive role that humans play in the physical and mental health of our pets.

Millie was also headlined on the Famous Chihuahuas’ webpage three times. In 2016, after having endured several brutal winters in Rochester, NY, I promised Millie to take her south to a warmer climate where she lived out her final years in SW Florida with my spouse and I, along with her bigger sister Beatrice (Bea), as Netter had crossed the Rainbow Bridge some years earlier. Millie was tiny, yet she was a gigantic ray of sunshine that lifted me up and enables me to continue my work with MBJungle Foundation. She will be celebrated every day by me but especially on September 13, which is Pet Birth Defects Awareness Day. “Millie, I love you so very much. You will forever be remembered and missed.” – D. Rogers

Small breed dogs such as Chihuahuas are susceptible to a leg problem called patellar luxation. It is a hereditary problem in which the leg bones are malformed. This results in the kneecap being repeatedly pulled out of position.

This defect along with her grade 6 heart murmur and blindness is what forced me to make the decision for Millie to cross Rainbow Bridge.

Celebrating the Life of Bruno

My girl Bruno passed away on May 3, 2021, and every day I have missed her so much. She came into our lives one day without my having planned on it. I am not sure why I turned down the road to the shelter that day because I had passed it a hundred times. Bruno was a very good girl and very smart. She learned how to walk both on a leash and off as well as how to chase squirrels (her favorite) and come right back. After a few years of having Bruno, I had some major health problems, but she was always by my side. I had to get over the fear of walking out of the house and she would be right there waiting. We would start out slowly and eventually we were able to walk 5 -6 miles through the woods. I loved to watch her chase things and bounce through the brush like a deer. My girl Bruno was my best friend. We would go to bed at night and stare at each other just for a minute. That’s all it took for us to know we would be okay until morning.

There are so many great memories I have of Bruno (at first, she was named Bea). She was so full of energy. She loved to run, but one day she stopped running and got sick very quickly. I will never stop thinking about her and how she got me through some tough times in life.