Cheyenne, equipped with her own miniature police vest and “badges,” accompanies Walter Heaton on his patrol rounds.
(Zita Fletcher/Rio Rancho Observer)
Meet the smallest member of the Corrales Police Department: Cheyenne, a 9-year-old teacup Chihuahua. Despite her tiny size, she has a big presence in the community.
“She helps me with my D.A.R.E. program,” said Corrales D.A.R.E. officer Walter Heaton. “That’s basically her job.”
Heaton received the 8-week-old puppy as a surprise Father’s Day gift from his daughter. His daughter presented him with a moving bag; inside was a Chihuahua tiny enough to fit in his pocket.
“She’s been a bundle of joy ever since!” he said.
Cheyenne, the runt of the litter, has become the official police mascot for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, which aims to prevent substance abuse and gang membership among youth.
The delicate teacup Chihuahua is equipped with her own police vest and pin “badges.” A local celebrity, Cheyenne is known to most everyone in the village of Corrales and is very popular with schoolchildren who participate in the D.A.R.E. program.
“They love her,” Heaton said. “They get to pet her and carry her around every once in a while.”
Heaton has worked in law enforcement for 30 years. A native of Acoma Pueblo, where he started his career, he has been a police officer for Laguna Pueblo and the Navajo Nation in Grants.
He joined the Corrales Police Department in 1985. He is the leader of the Corrales D.A.R.E. Unit, whose mission statement is: “To provide children with the information and skills they need … to live a drug-free and violence-free life.”
Together, Heaton and Cheyenne visit two Corrales schools – Corrales Elementary and Sandia View Christian Elementary – where they work as a team to teach fifth- through eighth-graders.
The D.A.R.E. course spans several months, usually beginning in September and ending in April or May. Cheyenne is a guest of honor at the course graduations, wearing her own D.A.R.E. T-shirt.
“She’s there presenting,” Heaton said. “The kids get to hold her. She’s good at that – letting them pet her.”
Aside from her teaching role, the tiny law enforcement representative attends village events such as fundraisers, Halloween parties and the Harvest Festival, where she attracts admiring visitors and is showered with attention.
Cheyenne has an outfit for every occasion, including festive costumes and a collection of party dresses. When asked how many outfits Cheyenne has, Heaton replied, “A whole drawerful!” She recently debuted at a Star Wars-themed party as a miniature Chewbacca. Many of her outfits are gifts from her fans.
In the mornings, Heaton and his dog patrol Corrales roads in his police cruiser. Cheyenne has her own car seat equipped with her own supplies, such as a tiny water bottle and snacks. She’s often excited to go for rides and explore the area. “She’s a good passenger,” Heaton said.
Cheyenne also makes occasional visits to the police station. She barks alertly at times, yet has a gentle and social disposition, which, according to Heaton, makes her both a docile pet and an ideal mascot.
“She’s very quiet. She’s very good with the kids,” said Heaton, who enjoys Cheyenne’s companionship. “She’s a very, very good dog!”
From Albuquerque Journal.
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