The Truth Behind Louisiana’s Asthma Dog Lore
I first heard the term "little asthma dog" uttered on a small town radio station that was running a listener swap shop program. I had no idea what an asthma dog was so I asked around. It turns out there are a lot of people that believe in the concept that a certain breed of dog, a Chihuahua, can help take away asthma in children.
Let's get some facts before we dive into the folklore. Asthma affects more than 17 million Americans. It is an inflammatory disorder of the bronchial tubes. It kills more than 5-thousand people annually across the country. In short asthma is not a condition that is to be or should be taken lightly. We are certainly not advocating any treatment other than supervised medical treatment by a medical professional.
My first question about the asthma dog was how did it work? It is my understanding in talking with those who are familiar with the practice that the asthma dog or chihuahua sleeps on the chest of the child that suffers asthma. The proximity of the dog to the sufferer allows the dog to actually "take on the disease". No, I don't know how but I am not sure how automatic doors work at the grocery store either.
The origin of this canine treatment goes further back than even Cajun lore. It goes all the way back to the Aztecs who believed the Chihuahua had special healing powers over those that suffered breathing disorders. The legend got passed down through time and today one can find an asthma dog for sale on many a swap shop across the South.
Is this fact or fiction? According to the very well respected Snopes.com website. It's fiction.
Unfortunately for asthma sufferers, the chihuahua remedy doesn't work. While it is true that these creatures are somewhat less likely to provoke allergies than most other breeds of dogs, owning one will not in itself cure asthma.
It does make for an interesting bit of folklore and storytelling and I have to admit it caught my attention on the swap shop show. It was a lot more interesting than the guy who was wanting to trade a '69 El Camino and a stack of old doors for a washer and dryer in good condition and used trolling motor.