A chiweenie is missing.
A chiweenie is a tiny dog, apparently. A cross between a Chihuahua and a dachshund -- the wiener dog.
This missing mix is just 4 months old, with a name of Akiko. A round ball of fur the color of a rusty nail with a white spot on its chest and one white front paw. It's no bigger than an all-the-way cheeseburger from Ebenezer Grill, the place that had the 10-foot weenie sign stolen a couple of years ago. When this chiweenie called Akiko came to live with Kayla Walling and sleep in her bed, she was the size of, maybe, a hearty meatball.
"She's got a red nose, just like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer," said 14-year-old Kayla, who saved her money a few dollars at a time to meet the $175 needed to pay for it.
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"The kind of puppy that jumps on you and licks your face," said Jesse Covington, one of Kayla's friends from the neighborhood. "The kind you cuddle with that makes you feel better."
An eighth-grader at Sullivan Middle School who plays clarinet in the school band, Kayla lives with her dad, Mark, near Ebenezer Park close to Lake Wylie. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, while Kayla was on the computer, Akiko and another family dog named Cookie got loose.
The Wallings searched the neighborhood and even had neighbors help. Around the corner on Mount Gallant Road, outside the fence of the convenience center where people take trash, Cookie panted.
"I grabbed Cookie and took her home and went right back," Mark Walling said. "I was too late."
Mark said a worker at the convenience center told him that just a few minutes earlier a lady who had stopped at the convenience center saw the puppy, was worried it would be hurt and took it away.
Kayla cried. The next day, Kayla called every veterinarian in the phone book. Nobody had brought in her dog. Her father made fliers with the only picture of the dog they had, a shot taken on his phone. Mark tried an ad in the classifieds of this newspaper: "Missing 4 mo old chiweenie red w/wht. on chest. pkd up 11/20 at dump on Mt. Gallant Rd. 370-1214."
Workers at the county animal shelter haven't seen the dog and don't have the dog.
Akiko had proper shots for her age and was just about old enough to get a rabies shot, Mark said. But she had no collar or identification on, Kayla said.
"She kept clawing at it, and little bits of her fur, tufts, kept coming off," Kayla said. "It was hurting her."
Kayla decided to write a letter to the editor seeking help. She wrote, "I had gotten her a Christmas present, and now I feel horrible."
Kayla already had bought a tiny, chiweenie-sized sweater for her dog.
Anybody who reads this newspaper knows I don't like dogs. Dogs don't like me, so we are even. I don't like Tega Cay's park for dogs. But even an ogre like me wants Kayla, who cries at night, to be happy.
Mark Walling is continuing to put up more fliers as he hopes the phone rings. He tries to tell his daughter that this can work out if they don't give up.
"This little dog made a little girl happy," Mark said. "That's what daddies do. Make daughters happy. If they can."