“Somebody goes to Mexico on vacation, right, and they buy the cheapest Chihuahua in the world, and they’re so excited, they’re like ‘wow this is a pure bred Chihuahua let me buy it’ and they’re gonna buy it and bring it home to whatever Suburban town they’re from. And they have the thing and they’re like it looks weird but whatever, and then one day, grim turn, they find that it’s like attacking their child in the night and they take it to the vet and he’s like ‘this is a shaved rat’ and it’s a terrifying huge city rat brought into your home and now you have rabies and like whatever else the rat has.”
Informant Analysis: “It was always somebody’s cousin or somebody’s second cousin or something went to Mexico. We just accepted it completely because we were little kids who, when we imagined Mexico, it’s just a place that isn’t here and of course a scary thing like that could come from there. And I thought it was true until I read this book “scary stories to read in the dark” and the story was there and I was like oh, that’s it, it’s just a story.”
Analysis: This urban legend serves as a way to somehow relate to or understand a place that otherwise seems exotic to the informant. The legend uses something familiar–a chihuahua–and makes it something scary as a result of being bought in Mexico. The legend not only makes Mexico seem like a dangerous or untrustworthy place based on the transaction, but it also makes the family who was fooled by the trick seem a bit stupid for having believed that a rat was a dog. The informant also points to the fact that the story was somehow always personal because it “actually” happened to a relative or a relative of a relative, and this “five degrees of separation” idea is the case with many urban legends, so they can seem more plausible or realistic when in fact somebody random probably just made them up. That could be why the informant believed the story for so long past childhood.