Nicole Malliotakis’ Chihuahua Peanut is a suspiciously paradoxical pup.
Quietly nestled in the Republican mayoral candidate’s arms at the 19th annual Great Pupkin Dog Costume Contest in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park on Saturday, Peanut didn’t seem like he could cause harm to anyone. Yet, he inadvertently caused his owner to fracture her foot only a few days earlier.
As Malliotakis got ready to walk her 12-year-old dog -- dressed as Superman -- onto the stage in her foot brace, Peanut seemed rather preoccupied.
“He’s just peaceful and well-behaved,” Malliotakis clarified as she adjusted his red cape.
Patiently awaiting his turn to shine, Peanut seemed unfettered in his superhero costume, turning his face side-to-side as needed for the perfect photograph. Once on stage, he took his time, enjoying the attention from the audience and causing his owner to gently tug at his leash so other dogs could have their turns.
But this wasn’t Peanut’s first time in the spotlight. On Tuesday, Malliotakis revealed he had caused her to fracture her foot after she “accidentally” banged it against a table trying to avoid stepping on him.
“Peanut is the culprit,” Malliotakis had told reporters at Villa Erasmo, an Italian restaurant in Middle Village, Queens.
Malliotakis has been campaigning with a fractured foot since, and portends another four weeks with the brace. When asked about her relationship with the overeager Peanut, she said, “If I have to choose between my foot and my dog, I’ll choose my dog.”
Due to his busy social calendar, Peanut is quite well known in the community, Malliotakis said. He’s accompanied her to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on his birthday every year and participated in the Halloween Walk in Bay Ridge as a frog in the past.
When Peanut isn’t nearby, a common refrain is, “Where’s Peanut?” Malliotakis added.
Peanut can also be a bit of a homebody, according to the mayoral hopeful who lives on Staten Island. He loves to sit on the top of the sofa and look at cars outside of the window. He’s the happiest when Malliotakis comes home, “running all around the house, all around the house,” she said. It is this fervent ardor that led the mayoral candidate to injure her foot in the first place, she said.
Learn more about Peanut, your potential future first dog of New York City.
Peanut once belonged to Malliotakis’ friend
She took Peanut into her family after learning that her friend and his girlfriend couldn’t take care of him anymore.
Together for 11 years, Malliotakis has cared for him ever since. When she’s out campaigning, “he goes to foster care,” she said, referring to her parents’ house on Staten Island.
“He’s a wonderful little dog,” Malliotakis said, recalling how Peanut almost died of pancreatitis last year. “I was devastated...I took care of him, put him on a special diet, and he got better. Thankfully.”
His favorite treat is egg yolk.
A complete change in diet ensued after Peanut’s health scare, and he was painstakingly nursed back to health, Malliotakis’ mother, Vera Malliotakis, 63, said.
“I nursed him like a baby,” she said, listing all the items she cooked for the pup to make him better -- rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli, dry cranberry, chicken, beef, liver and lamb.
Now in the best of health, Peanut tries to stay away from a fat- and protein-filled diet. Except the occasional egg yolk, his favorite.
He is also a fan of smoked salmon, which his owner is obliged to give him since he basically paws it out of her hands, Malliotakis said. Another item that makes Peanut’s list of favorites is Beggin’ Strips. “He just loves the bacon,” she said.
He can be possessive of his owner.
“He’s a rascal,” Malliotakis’ mother said. “When Nicole’s around, he gets very protective of her.”
Peanut has also been known to nip at guests in his house. While on his best behavior outside, he is wary of intruders inside his own home.
“Sometimes when I’m holding him and my mother comes around and tries to pick him up, then he’ll bite, he’ll go grrr,” Malliotakis said. “He’s attached to me very much.”
Peanut has some vices, too.
“He loves to pee everywhere,” Malliotakis said. “When he pees, he gets this incredibly innocent look. When he knows I know, he puts his tail between his legs and goes to my bed. That’s how he knows I know.”
Despite the innocence and the good behavior, Peanut has, in the past, tried to frame Malliotakis’ other Chihuahua, Olympia, for his transgressions.
He also has a tendency to get Olympia into difficult situations.
“When he’s with Olympia, they tag team it,” Malliotakis said. “He’s a sweet dog, but he gets in fights...when he has a backup.”
Peanut has put a paw into politics before.
If elected first pet, Peanut plans to enact an “Adopt, Don’t Shop” policy across the city, Malliotakis said. A regular on Animal Advocacy Day in Albany, Peanut has been used to promote adoption of pets from shelters.
“I do have a couple of bills that would require the state of New York to do a better job of promoting adoption and to hold them longer [in the shelters] so they have a chance to be adopted before euthanization,” Malliotakis said. “We want to try to move New York City to a no-kill shelter city.
“Peanut is not the only lucky one,” Malliotakis added, referencing her history of caring and advocating for pets.
But don’t worry about Peanut getting jealous of the other pets in his mom’s life. He spent an afternoon nestled in Malliotakis’ arms, walking around Fort Greene Park showered with attention, hearing tales of his bravery and strength. He’s a regular “Man of Steel.”