A show-stealing chihuahua who upstaged 40 pooches to become a pageant queen may have seen her last runway after breaking her leg hopping off a six inch step – forcing her distraught owners to raise the £2,700 needed to fix it.
Named Twiggy like the famous model, the tiny dog, who is so pampered by part-time carer Angela Elvin, 51, and her design engineer husband Daren Elvin, 54, that she has a wardrobe of outfits and her own bedroom, sustained the injury that could end her modelling career two weeks ago.
Angela, who lives with Daren and two of their children, Saffy, 18, and Violet, 15, in Ironbridge, Shropshire, said: “She is such a trooper, you wouldn’t believe she had broken her leg. She must be in pain, but she doesn’t show it.
“I just don’t know where we are going to get the money from for the vet bills. The costs for everything are astronomical now.”
Desperate to help the little dog, Angela and Daren, whose older children, Henry, 22, an antique book binder, and Scarlett, 19, a student, have left home, have launched a GoFundMe page, to try and raise the money needed to treat her. The couple, who do not have insurance for Twiggy due to challenges involving an earlier health condition, first brought her into the family when lockdown began in March 2020.
After caving into repeated requests to get a puppy from their youngest daughter, they found Twiggy on the PreLoved website, at just 11 weeks old and weighing only 325g, and she was an instant hit.
Angela said: “She was even smaller than the picture we saw her on, we couldn’t believe it. She was smaller than a mobile phone.
“Everything we bought her was huge. The teddy bear looked massive next to her and the toys we bought her looked ridiculous, as they were so much bigger.
“She looked like a tiny dot in the corner of her dog bed. We had to use this kitten harness on her, because she was so small.”
While Twiggy is the smallest member of the all-vegan and vegetarian household – compared with the family’s three cats and three tortoises – she still manages to rule the roost.
“The cats look like hippos next to Twiggy,” Angela said. “But she is 100 per cent the boss. If the cats come into my bedroom, she loses it. It’s like she is saying, ‘It’s my domain’.”
Twiggy has even managed to bag herself her very own bedroom with a wardrobe of 30-plus outfits.
“It used to be our dressing room, but now it’s Twiggy’s bedroom,” Angela said. “She has her own wardrobe with hangers with all her clothes on and there’s a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door.
“She has lots of different coats, like little denim jackets with strawberries on and a cute tweed jacket, as well as different pyjamas, including a onesie. She used to wear socks to keep warm because she was so small. We would make holes in them for her head and legs.”
Proving a hit with the locals, who admire her funky jackets on her walks, when Angela stumbled on the Chihuahua Town Festival pageant in August 2021, she could not resist entering Twiggy.
“I spotted it on Facebook and I thought it would be a laugh,” Angela said. She added: “We had no idea what to expect. It was so funny, because it was such an extravaganza with all these dogs in ball gowns.
“That just wasn’t Twiggy’s style, so I bought this pink feather boa off Amazon for a tenner and just stitched it on to these pyjamas. Everybody was saying how much they loved the outfit and asking where it was from.”
Up against around 40 dogs in two categories, Miss Chihuahua Town and Best Dressed, Twiggy took to the stage to strut her stuff.
“I had to walk her down this catwalk and they said she had ‘model pins’,” said Angela. “But my God, when they called her name out and said she had won both categories, we couldn’t believe it.
“There were all these lavish outfits people had paid so much for, but Twiggy won. She won two crowns, it was ridiculous.”
But, sadly, the spindly pins that made Twiggy a top model were her downfall on April 22 when she came a cropper, stumbling off a step in the family’s back garden.
“She had just stepped down into our backyard, jumped off the bottom step and flipped onto her side,” Angela said. “The step is literally six inches high and she has never done it before. It is devastating.”
A £491 X-ray revealed that Twiggy has cracked one of the bones in her right wrist, which is now protruding to the side.
“The vet estimated it would cost around £2,700 to pin her leg, but I want to see if there is an alternative, because I am worried about her being put under anaesthetic. Even when she had a light anaesthetic for the X-ray, her breathing was erratic, which I am worried about.”
While Twiggy is predominantly holding her wounded leg in the air, she has made no fuss about the injury.
Angela said: “She has even started to try and walk on it, but it is sticking out to the side now. It looks like the ligament has tightened now and is pushing it to one side.”
As well as her broken leg, Twiggy has a liver shunt, which she was diagnosed with a year ago. An abnormal connection between two veins, allowing blood to bypass, or shunt around the liver, it was discovered after an incident where her blood sugar levels suddenly dropped.
Angela explained: “One day, we woke up and she had a fit. We rushed her to our vet and they gave her a drip of glucose solution which saved her, but now she can’t regulate her blood sugar.
“They said she might not make it to two, but she’s already defied that prognosis as she’s two now. But this makes her even more precious to us. Twiggy means the world to us and makes us laugh every day.”
As they do not have insurance, Angela and Daren are hoping kind strangers will help them to raise the funds they need to fix the tiny dog’s leg.
Angela said: “I asked the vet if they do payment plans but they don’t, so I may have to get a loan out otherwise. We haven’t done anything since her accident, we are saving everything we can.
“But everything has gone up, my gas and electric bill has risen and I didn’t know what else to do but to try and crowdfund. I feel so embarrassed doing a GoFundMe for Twiggy, but she can’t go on like this.
“She is so lovely and inquisitive and playful and she is friendly with everyone. She is everything to us.”
You can help support Twiggy’s fundraiser here.