She had pursued singing opera but stopped when it wasn’t fun any longer. At that time she didn’t go out much. She’d never attended a charity event. “I wasn’t really planning to get a dog, but when I saw Eli’s photo on Craigslist next to a message that he needed a home, I knew we had to meet. My small studio apartment seemed too tiny for a dog but I realized it wasn’t too small for a Chihuahua.
Eli completely changed my life. Together we started going to events, getting involved in dog walks and raising money for causes. Before Eli I’d never even been to a charity event.”
Now Biehl and Eli the Celebrity Chihuahua are looking forward to spending 2012 helping animals in need. They’ve raised funds for charities since 2006. Together they’ve earned $12,000 for the American Cancer Society through participating in annual dog walks, been celebrity guests at the National Eating Disorder Association Walk, and participated in the AIDS Walk and Scleroderma Walk. In addition, Eli and Biehl are on many committees for animal fundraising events including Bideawee, Animal Care & Control of NYC and Last Chance for Animals.
Eli has modeled at Pet Fashion Week, strutted down runways, and appeared in magazine ads including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Biehl and Eli regularly hobnob with celebrities and write up reviews in their column, New York Celebrity Dog Examiner. Eli has his own IMDb page listing his stints in Doggie Moms and The Real Housewives of New York City.
“When I met Eli he was shy,” said Biehl. “He’d already had two owners and come from a puppy mill. My first six months with Eli were spent tending to his health issues. He had a tapeworm and needed knee surgery. He’s had all kinds of health issues—just one of them cost me $4000 in vet bills.”
Most recently, Eli had a bad reaction to a rabies shot which inspired Biehl’s new mission—to raise awareness about the rabies vaccine. According to research, the vaccines last up to 7 years, but by law dogs are required to get one every two or three years depending on the state. Eli developed a very rare condition called panniculitis with vasculitis—an autoimmune reaction to the rabies shot. He also suffered with pneumonia, and seizures.
“No dog should have to go through what Eli has,” Biehl said. “He’s come a long way and shows what is possible regardless of your past.”
Eli won his first contest, the Barking Beauty Pageant. His prize was a full spread in New York Dog magazine. Next he won New York Tails magazine’s “Best New York Tails Contest.” Then Eli shot to fame when he won the Milk-Bone “Make Your Dog Famous” contest which landed him on the Milk-BoneSmall Dog Biscuit box.
Eli won Grand Prize at a Macy’s Petacular, he was the Times Square Masquerade winner, “Most Smoochable Pooch” in the Kibbles ‘n Bits cover dog search, “Best in Show” at Animal Fair Magazine’s Canine Comedy, “New York Celebrity Dog” at the Pre-Westminster Fashion Show, and earned a “Red Carpet Performance” Award at the NSAL DogCatemy Awards. Their next event will be the Pre-Westminster Fashion Show on February 10th, 2012.
“On my own,” Biehl said, “I probably couldn’t even raise one hundred dollars but when people see Eli they want to donate. It’s amazing. He has opened up so many worlds for me. He taught me to go for my dreams.”