Owner of 'demonic' Chihuahua says adoption ad was 'accurate' — but she has no regrets

When Ariel Davis adopted a 2-year-old Chihuahua named Prancer in April, she assumed he might have devilish tendencies. After all, the tongue-in-cheek adoption ad penned by his foster, Tyfanee Fortuna of Second Chance Pet Adoption League in New Jersey, described him as “demonic,” like a “haunted Victorian child” or a “Chucky doll in a dog’s body.”

“There’s not a very big market for neurotic, man hating, animal hating, children hating dogs that look like gremlins,” the ad noted.

But when Davis introduced Prancer to her home in New Haven, Connecticut, he seemed surprisingly tame while settling in for the first couple weeks.

It was a short-lived respite for what was to come.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.

“At the end of the second week, he was like, ‘All right, it’s cool, I think I can start coming out of my shell now,’” Davis, 36, told TODAY. “I definitely started to see a lot of the behaviors that had been advertised in the ad by the lovely Tyfanee. She was very accurate. We had a couple of run-ins with men that were embarrassing.”
Prancer acted tame for the first couple of weeks after being adopted, but then his "demonic" tendencies began to emerge, such as growling at men.Ariel Davis
With help from trainers, Davis is working to help Prancer feel safe, and to understand he doesn’t need to protect her — and that she’ll protect him. When she takes him with her to work at a rehabilitation center for women, she asks everyone to simply pretend he’s not there.

Limit treats to training rewards. This is an excellent way to make sure your dog views treats as special rather than expected. It’s also helpful in keeping your pet from becoming overweight or obese. Feed a species-appropriate diet, and partner with a holistic or integrative vet to maintain your pet’s well-being.

“If nobody’s looking at him or trying to pet him or drawing attention to him, he’ll just walk around, shaking his little butt, sniffing the floor and minding his own business. But it’s when you make eye contact or draw attention to him that he feels threatened,” she said. “So it’s really just getting him get used to being around people that aren’t threatening him or he perceives to be threatening him.”

Though Prancer is quirky, to say the least, Davis has “not a single regret” about adopting him. He’s loyal, very smart, loves giving her hugs, listens well, is always delighted to see her, has no interest in running away, and likes attention without being overbearing or demanding.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Labradors have been the most popular breed in the United States for the last 26 years.

Prancer is loyal and loving to his adopter, Ariel Davis. She has no regrets about adopting him from Second Chance Pet Adoption League in Morris Plains, New Jersey.Jen Hillenga / The Ways of the Dog

The diminutive dog has helped lift her out of depression about the pandemic. She loves the adorable way his face seems to scrunch into a smile when he’s happy.

“I feel like he’s everything that I expected him to be and so much more,” she said. “I have an amazing dog that I love very much.”

Prancer brings joy to his adopter, Ariel Davis, who is doing all she can to make him feel safe and loved.Jen Hillenga / The Ways of the Dog

The biggest challenge is adjusting to life with a celebrity pet. When Davis adopted Prancer she wanted a companion, not a famous dog, and the fan response has been overwhelming.

Turn an empty pancake-syrup bottle into a portable squirtable water bottle.

Prancer has over 95,000 Instagram followers. “Friends” star Matthew Perry asked him to model a bandana emblazoned with “Could I Be Any More Of A Dog?” from his merchandise store. Davis has been approached about books and movies, and fielded numerous media requests for interviews (ahem).

She enjoys talking about her dog but the publicity has been a shock.

“People wanted pictures of me and I don’t even want to look in the mirror,” she said. “So having this companion lets me say, ‘I want to take better care of myself.’ I’ve started to take steps, looking into what I need to do to change things that I’m not happy about with myself, and I have Prancer to keep me going. I come home every day and see this little man that’s my inspiration to wake up the next day and do it.”

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Have you ever wondered why your dog curls up in a ball when they sleep? It’s actually an age-old instinct to keep themselves warm and to protect vital organs while they sleep.

Fame has offered Prancer fringe benefits beyond the ultimate reward of finding a loving forever home. For instance, Petco sent him a care package that included a blue monster that is now his favorite toy — despite the fact that it’s roughly half his size.

“He carries it around. He’ll sit with it and likes to leave it in my bed,” she said. “That’s painfully endearing.”

Prancer is a "sweetheart" to his adopter, Ariel Davis.Jen Hillenga / The Ways of the Dog

Davis has noticed other rescue groups have started sharing over-the-top adoption profiles for hard-to-place pets , and hopes potential adopters will do their research, know what they’re getting into and make sure they’re adopting for the right reasons.

Find ways to enrich your pet’s environment. Your dog or cat needs your help to stay mentally stimulated. This is important not only to discourage destructive behavior in younger pets, but also to keep your older pet’s brain sharp.

Hopefully others will find the right fit, as she did. While doing all she can to give Prancer a happy life, she’ll continue celebrating the quirks that brought them together. For example, she’s planning something special for Halloween for his Instagram followers.

“There’s going to be a Chucky costume involved,” she said. “Most definitely.”