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Chihuahuas Are More Than Just Fashion Accessories
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Chihuahuas Are More Than Just Fashion Accessories

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Chihuahuas Are More Than Just Fashion Accessories

Chihuahuas Are More Than Just Fashion Accessories
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The Chihuahua is a celebrated dog breed found in Dog Whisperer episodes, Taco Bell commercials, and the new movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

The oversized sunglasses, the oversized handbags, starlets' and socialites' accessories just keep getting bigger. Except one. Those dogs they carry in their purses just get smaller. Now there's a movie called "Beverly Hills Chihuahua."

(Soundbite of movie "Beverly Hills Chihuahua")

Mr. GEORGE LOPEZ (As Papi): My name is Papi. I put the wow in Chihuahua.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Alison Bryce explores the Chihuahua's larger-than-life appeal.

ALISON BRYCE: In the movie, Chihuahuas wear hats, nighties and big sparkly jewels. They sit on doggy-sized pool chairs. The boys sweet-talk the girls.

(Soundbite of movie "Beverly Hills Chihuahua").

Mr. GEORGE LOPEZ (As Papi): Mi Corazon.

Unidentified Actress: Oh.

Mr. LOPEZ (As Papi): Lovely.

Unidentified Actress: Who is that hunk of Chihuahua?

Mr. LOPEZ (As Papi): If you ever need someone to lick inside your ears, I would be most honored.

BRYCE: Chihuahua lover Allan Resnick says a movie with talking Chihuahuas is funny because they think they are capable of anything.

Mr. ALLAN RESNICK (Editor at Large, Dog World): They really don't know their own size. So if you don't coddle them and you treat them like a dog, they really are ready to take on the world.

BRYCE: Allan Resnick spent the summer as a judge on the reality show "America's Greatest Dog." He's incensed that disrespecting Chihuahuas is rampant throughout pop culture. It all started with that Chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercial in 1997.

(Soundbite of Taco Bell commercial)

BRYCE: And in 2001, "Legally Blonde," shows Reese Witherspoon dressing her Chihuahua sidekick in every shade of pink.

(Soundbite of movie "Legally Blonde")

Unidentified Actor: Welcome to Harvard.

BRYCE: Neither one of them get respect walking the halls of Harvard Law School.

(Soundbite of movie "Legally Blonde")

Ms. REESE WITHERSPOON: (As Elle Woods): Don't be scared. Everyone will love you.

BRYCE: Pick up any celebrity magazine and likely you'll see a Chihuahua tucked under the arm of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. It looks like they're trying to match their headband to their dog to their shoes.

Ms. MELISSA KAGAN(ph)(Chihuahua Enthusiast): You know, they're not an accessory, they're a dog.

BRYCE: Melissa Kagan is at a Chihuahua meetup group at a park. When a five-pound Chihuahua named Santino approaches, Kagan doesn't see that it's shaking uncontrollably. She sees its goggles, dog goggles. They call them doggles.

Ms. KAGAN: They're - oh my God, that's the - the goggles! You have to tell me where you got those goggles. I need to get a pair. Sorry, I was just asking around everybody, where did you get your goggles?

BRYCE: Santino's owner is Sue Park(ph).

Mr. SUE PARK (Chihuahua Enthusiast): He is wearing a navy colored polo shirt from Ralph Lauren and has like the Polo embroidery on his back. And he's wearing doggles, which is to protect his eyes. Doggles, yup.

BRYCE: Dressing a dog like a Barbie doll worries Allan Resnick, editor at large of Dog World magazine. He's afraid people will see "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and want to buy one. After the "101 Dalmations" movie, everybody wanted a Dalmatian. But as soon as the novelty wore off, the dogs ended up at shelters or the pound.

Mr. RESNICK: You know, you can toss a handbag back in your closet when it's no longer in fashion, but dogs shouldn't be relegated to, you know, the status of a clothing item, and dogs just aren't disposable.

BRYCE: So if Chihuahuas aren't your thing, next month the movie "Bolt" comes out. It stars a German shepherd. Alison Bryce, NPR News.

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