Story of Chihuahua and ice acrobats

Los Angeles

Alexander and Ekaterina Chessna, ice acrobats, abused their dog Stesha

Alexander and Ekaterina Chessna, ice acrobats, abused their dog Stesha

Diane didn’t know why, but the moment she stepped into that townhouse, situated so conveniently for its purpose deep inside a gated Russian community in a shabby hood, she was certain it was the beginning of a life-and-death story.

In the backyard, an athletic couple of ice acrobats, bald, cocky Alex and burnt blond Katya, chubby for an acrobat, built a harness and an electric spinner – a contrivance to condition figure skating jumps.

Diane, a slim tall executive with attentive green eyes, loving jumps most of all things ice skating and eager for a short cut to better skills for her utter lack of time, naturally became one of their first clients to try the machinery.

But before she had even gotten to the backyard, a fluffy energetic puppy, a golden mix of Chihuahua and Dachshund, jumped into her arms.

- His name is Steven - a proper introduction by Alex.

Diane looked astonished:

- Steven? It’s a girl!
- How so?
- Don’t you see those nipples?
- Ummm… ohh… true… let’s call it Stesha then.
- Where'd you get her from?
- Craigslist.
- Oh, you probably didn't know that shelters here put Chihuahuas to sleep by the thousands so most of us usually rescue them instead. My darling Chihuahua is a rescue. Her name is Yoda; she looks like the Jedi.

Disheartened by Diane's hardly contained contempt, Alex took her to the backyard to proudly demonstrate his invention, certain of finally securing her approbation. But Diane's widened eyes didn't promise any: it was a tiny gated area he built for Stesha behind the harness to keep her there as punishment for peeing in the house.

Diane, baffled, but restrained, mused:

- Chihuahuas are lap dogs, a breed from Mexico; they rely on a warm blanket on top of a warm home; they are not kept outside.

- Ooh, gave in Alex, but I just was going to say that the puppy hopped over it like an antelope anyway...

Stesha continually fluxed all over her, jumping with her when she was taking off on a harness, stepping on her running spinner and peeing on the mat beneath her wheely. Cuddly and overly affectionate, she ran between all inhabitants, demanding rubs.

The acrobats’ two-year-old would hold her upside down and throw on her head, but Stesha did not mind, trying to land as well as the situation permitted. Katya wondered that their daughter's and dog's characters strangely matched. The girl demanded hanging on the harness instead of clients and one day jumped on the big button of the electric spinner while Diane’s foot was on it; the leg jerked and spun and Diane twisted her knee.

She limped and bandaged the knee for months but didn’t complain to unconsciously save the girl from her parents. She didn't know why. Was it a father's occasional suppressed growling at his 12 year old? Or coaches at the rink weighing in on calling the cops after witnessing him beating the boy for failing to perform well on ice?

She found herself uneasy when it became apparent that Stesha was being secluded in the kitchen at night. Yoda would be smitten with anxiety if left in isolation. She couldn't help noticing Stesha curled and squeaked when Alex's blunt hand reached out for her.

- You have two kids and a dog now; how do you continue travel for ice shows?- asked Diane.
- We’ll travel all together.
- But Chihuahuas badly suffer in the cold - she will be shaking all the time and feeling miserable in any remotely cold conditions.
- We didn’t think about that yet.

One day, watching another little girl from her rink landing awkwardly after spinning in the air two feet above the ground, she quietly inquired:

- Have you been checking about a license for your business yet? I understand your community lowers odds of complains, but operating electric machines like that might expose you one day; you would need liability insurance and paperwork, and taxes.
- Oh, we doubt...Hurriedly cut off seemingly annoyed by the question, Alex skated away from Diane.

Another day, watching Diane cuddling with the puppy, he asked:

- Can we leave the dog with you while we touring with Christmas shows?
- Only if she’s extremely low-maintenance - I must be able to work my usual non-stop, no weekends and skate daily before work. And, we will spoil her - she will be sleeping in our beds and eating from hands. If she’s well trained, we can introduce her to Yoda and see if they can be friends. Also, there’s a large swimming pool and no one in the house to safeguard her.
- Oh, no, she hates water; she won’t come close to a pool.

Alexander and Ekaterina Chessna, ice acrobats, dumped their dog Stesha

Alexander and Ekaterina Chessna, ice acrobats, dumped their dog Stesha

When Diane opened the big glass doors of her house, Stesha, without a moment of hesitation, ran full throttle through the house and leaped into the deep pool from the fly.

Alex and Katya, seemingly humbled by marble floors, high ceilings, artful furnishings, poetic views of the city and mountains, however, indifferently passed an original Dali- a litmus test in Diane's house to distinguish a soul of an artist. Not eager to leave, her acrobats stayed much longer than Diane would have liked, even though she usually longed to talk figure skating to a pro; the two-hour discourse had no dexterity to consume her mind like the beloved gatherings with her egghead pals.

Abandoned by owners- Alexander and Ekaterins Chessna- dog Stesha with friend Yoda

Abandoned by owners- Alexander and Ekaterins Chessna- dog Stesha with friend Yoda

Yoda wasn’t in disposition to make it easy for Stesha and the dogs fought at first. Even though Yoda was smaller, heavier and older, her physical reaction proved impeccable to withstand Stesha’s fierce attacks without even moving much. Such superb efficiency was a thrill to watch for Diane’s kids Nik and Mona until the four-legged ladies began getting along, cuddle and sleep with noses under each other’s bellies. In the morning, Stesha would lick Yoda’s face and Yoda would close one eye at a time, obliging the rigorous washing procedure with a physiognomy of a philosopher.

Stesha, abandoned dog by ice acrobats Chessna

Stesha, abandoned dog by ice acrobats Chessna

When Alex, after a month of absence and surprising silence, finally showed up to pick up Stesha, Diane, Nik and Mona were full of stories to tell while playing with the dogs on the floor. They had to add that when one buys a puppy it doesn’t come trained. Their busy family didn’t have time and the dog exploited unwisely the white velvet furniture, white carpets, chewed up a white leather chair and made sure there was no bed left in the house in no need of heavy redo.

Parting, they showered Stesha with kisses, anticipating the dog’s delight to have her family back. But there was something in Alex’s look that bothered Diane. She didn’t like that feeling and tried to brush it off: she will be checking on Stesha anyway.

Two weeks have passed and the freezing February nights arrived - the coldest time in Northeast LA County. One of these frigid nights, Alex, after putting kids to warm beds, quietly took Stesha to the car. He didn’t put on her collar.

They hit the highway east of Los Angeles for a long drive. Finally, he turned to a side road, then to a gravel and drove another couple of miles, until the road almost disappeared. Stesha blissfully curled on his knees. Now she peeked her head up, woken by the car jumping on the off-road.

Alex stopped the van and opened the door into the darkness. Frosty wind blew up Stesha’s fluffy ears. She sneezed, shaking her head. He took the creature who warmed up his tights, and dumped on the grassless, stony, chilly soil:

- Go!

Stesha, still sleepy, stayed still, shaking in the winter air, dotingly gazing at him with her head tilted, waving her tale, waiting for him to come out, ready to dutifully follow wherever he goes. But Alex only gave her a dreary look and shut the door.

The car took off, squeaking on the sharp gravel. The dust and rocks from big SUV tires hit Stesha’s wispy belly. She jerked and yowled in pain, but the car carried on. After a moment of freezing in disbelief, she darted off, trying to catch up with the rear car lights. Rocks flying from tires brutally beat her tender skin, nose and eyes until the beams started to distance. She couldn’t bark, she would just holler in a high voice, chocking. Alex saw in the rear-view mirror the slinky body sprinting and crying on top of her lungs. He blasted the radio to cut off the desperate animal shout and pushed the gas pedal.

Stesha raced, then ran, then hobbled for about an hour, in darkness, without a road, over the rocks, hurting herself again and again, hitting dry bushes and sharp edges. There were no lights around, no sounds but a wind. When she fell, her tongue hanged from her open jaw, bleeding paws had quickly swollen up. Crisp soil pained her little furless belly.

She was laying down when the chilling cry of coyotes cut the scowl of the darkness. The pack moved quickly, getting closer, growing excited by the smell of Stesha’s warm blood. She rose on her puffed front paws and tried to walk, but only squeaked and fell again. The horror of being eaten alive, however, pushed her up and carried her, limping and scuffing, trough the rocks and bushes, tearing her flesh, chased by the looming gobbling batch.

Alex was relieved that the house seemed sleeping when he returned home, so he snuck in as quietly as he could, eager for the warms of the wife’s body under a soft blanket. A barefoot silhouette of his son in pajamas - the only light spot in the darkness of the living room - barred his way.

- Where did you take Stesha to? - The boy’s voice broke.
- She ran away, I just went to look for her.
- Don’t lie! cried the boy. -Why mom took away all her things? Where did you take the puppy to?
- How dare you! Go sleep! Now! Or I will take my belt. He put a right hand on the belt with an habitual impulse.
- I don’t care anymore. It’s America - the coaches on the rink will call cops if you beat me again. Tell me where she is!
- If they do, I’ll be deported and you will go with me, so shut up! I told you she ran away. Go sleep now I said. I will look for her again tomorrow.
- You are lying, dad! Today is very cold - she wouldn’t have run away even on a warm night - she can’t stand the cold - she’s too small; she couldn’t run away, I know, I know!
- Shut up! his father snarled.

Read Part 2

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