The cars he sells find their base in South Korea, but Terry DeBruzzi’s life outside work is entwined with a special breed of dogs that finds its origin in the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
Japanese Chin dogs are purchased at commercial mill auctions by the Luther Bloomington Hyundai salesman and his wife, Sheryl. Their work is for the “Luv-a-Chin” pet fostering group. “The recession was good for one thing,” said Sheryl. “A lot of backyard breeders got out.”
By qualifying owners, Luv-a-Chin provides better homes for the small animals classed as “toy dogs.” They are most similar to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed, explains Terry.
Japanese Chins are relaxed, and mesh well with people, Terry explains. “They adapt to you. If you want to go outside and run around, they run around. If you want a lap dog, they’re a lap dog.” Through emotive facial expressions, the Chins can communicate to people if they don’t like what’s happening. Their fur is like silk.
“They’re only bred to be a companion,” said Sheryl. “Their whole world is their people– they love to please you, to be with you.” In addition to the mills, the duo also receives surrender dogs, often from people who must move and can’t bring a dog with them.
The DeBruzzi’s show the dogs at pet expos and the Renaissance Festival. People often ask if the canines, which average 10-to-12 pounds, are real, she said.
The challenge for Luv-a-Chin is to educate the public and find good homes. At times, people decide they want a dog on a whim, Sheryl explains. “It’s a major decision. Sometimes people get upset that we do three personal references … and a home visit,” she said.
Relying on a volunteer base, the organization has placed over 2,000 dogs in the last five years. It covers the entire U.S. and up into Canada, often using dog delivery relays where volunteers meet to cover smaller legs of a longer trip.
Though companionship is the primary driver, the DeBruzzi’s have been able to train one of their three Chins for other duties. Nikko, a male, chases geese out of their yard.