Shih Tzu Day 367: One Year Anniversary at Forever Home!

Dottie, Candy and Flower head off to Unleashed by Petco.This is Shih Tzu Day 367, the one-year anniversary of when Dottie, Candy, and Flower came to live with us (this year happened to have 29 days in February), on June 30, 2011.

Candy gets fitted with a harness at Unleashed by Petco.

I know I have to catch up on the last month, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to write about today. Since we have gotten all of the dogs at least semi used to walking on a leash, I decided it would be fun to take them out in public, particularly since there was an event that sounded fun.

I accidentally ran across an Unleashed by Petco a few weeks ago. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a “mini” Petco. I was further surprised to find out that one had opened up just a couple of miles from our home. As it turned out, it was having a grand opening this weekend.

Dottie enjoys a celebration treat.Candy waits her turn as Flower licks ice cream off John's hand.Why I thought it would be fun to take the shih tzus to it was because I got an email (because I have a PALS card) talking about the giveaways and discounts for the weekend, as well as an ice cream social, from 11 to 3 today. I had been trying to decide what to do for our anniversary, and I thought that sounded very celebratory. I didn’t know if they would be too nervous to eat ice cream there, but it sounded worth trying. Also, I like the harness I had fitted for Flower at Petco last week, so I wanted to get one for her shih tzu sisters.

It wasn’t too difficult to get them all in the back seat of the car, especially since we went through the same drill earlier in the week to take Flower, Candy and Dottie in for shots, with Nigel tagging along. Dottie was shaking, but the other shih tzus were pretty calm.

Candy and an anniversary treat.We got to Unleashed at 1, and I immediately asked someone if they could help us fit Dottie and Candy with harnesses. The woman I asked sent Patrice over to help us, and I told her that Flower had a medium, but she was a couple pounds smaller and might need a small. Patrice was going to try both sizes on Candy, but she was puzzled at how to get it on her. I have to admit that it took me a

Nigel investigates the doggy ice cream.

while to figure it out too, and I had been putting one on Flower for days. I was holding onto Flower and Nigel, so I couldn’t show her. With John’s help, we eventually decided she needed a medium too, and, even though Dottie is five pounds heavier, she took the same size.

That process was a little hectic. Dottie sat by Patrice throughout the fittings, but there were lots of people and dogs there, and Nigel kept trying to go make friends with other dogs. I had to keep pulling him back, until Ted, another Petco associate, came up and played with him.

I had intended on taking pictures, but my plan went awry. I didn’t know my battery was nearly dead on my Nikon and my iPhone battery was nearly dead from listening to Pandora on a bike ride earlier with John. I still managed to get several pictures taken before the batteries died.

Once we had accomplished the harness fitting, I asked where the ice cream was. It was disappointing to learn that although we had arrived at 1, they had already run out of ice cream. My mind was set on it, so I ended up buying some (SweetSpots peanut butter and honey) to take home.

I also talked to a Natural Balance representative about trying yet another kibble type, since the shih tzus don’t seem too jazzed about any of the kinds I’ve been given them. I ended up buying Alpha Dog, with lamb, chicken meal and rabbit. They also gave me some other samples to try.

Flower was the biggest problem child. She was pretty good when we were working on the harnesses, but later, when I went by the front door, she tried to exit. She didn’t care if it was with or without me. I think she’s going into her rebellious shih tzu teen years!

Although there was no free ice cream, we did get two pounds of free dog treats from the treat bar on the way out (Nigel is our only shih tzu that really likes biscuit-type dog treats). We also got two $5 coupons to spend when we came in, and there were two more in the bags we got. I’ll use one to get Nigel a harness later.

Our outing was a little nerve-wracking, but we got through it. When we got home, I had John slice up some chicken for me so I could make them chicken and apple and chicken and sweet potato treats. Once I had everything in the dehydrator, we put a variety of treats on a tray, including the doggie ice cream, and took them outside for their own exclusive ice cream social. Flower and Nigel loved the ice cream, although Dottie didn’t seem to care for it, and Candy would only eat it if I put it on my finger and had her lick it off. Candy preferred the chicken jerky I put out and Dottie the rawhide that I wrap fresh chicken around and dehydrate. It wasn’t the party I planned, but I don’t think they have any complaints.

I know Flower, Candy, and Dottie don’t understand what this anniversary means, but it has been a time for us to look back and reflect. We had some main goals this past year, including getting them used to me, getting them used to John, getting them used to guests, getting them to ride in a car without fear, getting them to walk on a leash, getting them to like going for walks, and getting them house trained.

We aren’t completely there, but I think we have made leaps and bounds. Flower can’t wait to go on walks. Candy and Dottie will go, but they don’t love it yet. Dottie still shakes in the car, but Flower and Candy don’t. Flower, in fact, jumped in the front to ride with me the last two times she went for a car ride. She also got through a vet visit without pooping on me or the vet. They all wag their tails when I or John comes home, and they will take treats from guests, although visitors aren’t their favorite pastime.

Yes, we are very happy with the progress we’ve made, and we can’t wait to see what progress we make in the coming year. Happy anniversary, Dottie, Candy, and Flower! We love you!

Oh, and we want to thank everyone who is cheering us on and sharing the journey with us!





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Shih Tzu Day 356: Vet & Escape

June 19, 2012

Vet Visit 

Flower and Nigel on the way to the vet.

Flower and Nigel on the way to the vet.

Nigel hasn’t been feeling good, so I decided to make a vet appointment for him and take Flower in for her annual checkup at Clear Creek Animal Hospital. I put her and Nigel on a couple, and she did well in the car on the way to the appointment. She also did well in the lobby and in the exam room, although she did pee on the floor. I was very proud that she let Dr. Lindsey examine her. It was quite different than her exam last year!

Flower with Dr. Lindsey.

Flower’s checkup with Dr. Lindsey.



I shared with Dr. Lindsey how she had been kicked out of grooming class but how she has improved so much since then. She was also good with the other dogs in the lobby on our way out. I stopped at McDonald’s for a Coke and then decided to take her and Nigel into Petco to try on harnesses. And there the perfect morning ended!

The Great Shih Tzu Escape

As we were coming up to the door to enter Petco, it opened and the noise scared her. She bolted, pulled out of the harness she was wearing, and ran out into the parking lot. I was frantically trying to figure out how I was going to hold Nigel and chase her when a woman near the door asked if I wanted her to hold Nigel’s leash. I quickly handed it to her and took off running after Flower.

Flower's new harness, which hopefully is escape-proof.

My hope is that Flower won’t be able to pull out of her new harness and escape!

I chased Flower for five minutes, calling her name, trying to keep my voice calm. She was getting dangerously close to the road, and I was panicking, thinking, “All that hard work and she gets hit by a car!” She finally slowed down and stopped on a grass area near feet from the road. I sat down, opened my purse and pulled out the heartworm treat from the vet, and then coaxed her to me. When she came close enough, I grabbed her. When I finally got back to the door, I thanked the woman profusely for watching Nigel and took them both inside. I found someone to help me fit Flower for a harness that I hope will be escape free!

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Take Your Dog to Work Day, Friday, June 22

It’s been a while since we’ve posted! We’ve been very busy and Mom hasn’t been much help with our Twitter account and is behind talking about our lives at the Freeze home. She promises to catch up soon, because A LOT has been happening here!

In the meantime, we ran across this information on the 14th annual Pet Sitters International “Take Your Dog to Work Day,” which is Friday, June 22.

We’re lucky. Mom has an office at home, so, technically, we go with her to work everyday. Nigel and Dottie sit on the couch with her most of the time. I jump up to see what’s going on now and then. Since all dogs aren’t that lucky, we want all the Humans out there planning to take dogs like us to work to be prepared. Follow these helpful tips by celebrity dog trainer, animal behaviorist and radio host Harrison Forbes.

Practice Makes Perfect: Before to bringing your dog into the office, practice polite behavior by taking them out to public places. Letting Fido tag along on your next trip to the park, pet store or café patio will help them become more acclimated to new people, places and animals. This will help them learn proper behavior when greeting people and help them relax in new settings.

Plan, Prepare and Protect: Plan ahead and check with your co-workers to make sure everyone is allergy-free and comfortable with dogs. Also, prepare your work space by hiding electrical cords, and setting out a dog bed and water bowl. Most importantly, make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines and protected from fleas and ticks that can be passed from other four-legged office mates. Use a monthly topical treatment like PetArmor®, which is the fipronil-based preventative that offers the same protection as Frontline® at about half the cost.

Walk This Way: Learn leash manners before stepping foot into the building. A trick to combat leash pulling is to stop walking or stop and walk in the opposite direction. When the dog stops and the leash becomes loose, start walking again. Repeat this exercise until your dog learns to walk with you instead of pulling ahead. This can be a long and frustrating process, but it will be effective in the long-term.

Sit and Stay: Condition your dog to sit and stay on command. This is the proper way to greet co-workers, and will help ensure your work day is productive. Teach “sit” and “down” by practicing ahead of time out in public, and offering a small treat for every successful command. Keep training sessions short and gradually build up to an hour. Once at work, encourage your dog to sit or lie down in its bed while in you’re working in your office.

Getting to Know You: Avoid office disputes by asking permission before you allow your dog to greet another dog, and don’t force your dog to become ‘friends’ with another dog; let them meet in their own time. Try to keep a loose leash when introducing your dog to another. Pulling tightly on the leash may cause your dog to become nervous and to growl or snap.

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Shih Tzu Week 49: May 31 (Day 337) – June 6 (Day 343), 2012

The world is upside down, not me!

Shih Tzu Day 337: May 31


Candy and Flower came to the couch after John left, barking, shaking their heads at me and scratching my bare legs. Before, I would give in and give them a treat—even though they hadn’t earned it. Now, however, I am going to try to take someone for a walk whenever that happens.

Somehow, I need to figure out how to take two sets of dogs for a walk each day, because I don’t think I can successfully walk all four at one time without John. I bought a coupler yesterday from PetSmart, after Liz, Sadie Shih Tzu’s mom, mentioned it, and I thought I would try to use it on Nigel and Flower.

Nigel gets very excited when he sees a leash, so he was the first one I approached. I hooked one of the leashes that came with the coupler onto his harness and called Flower. She approached me, but then ran when I tried to put a harness on her. I finally gave up and put a harness on Dottie. When I tried to attach the leash, she turned around and ran back to Shih Tzu Central to try to escape her fate.

Candy was already in hiding, so it was back to Flower. I thought she might do what she did the other day, so I went to the door with Nigel. I was right; when we got to the door, she bounced over to it. I guess she wants to go for a walk, but she doesn’t want to wear the harness. That means I have to somehow teach her to realize that wearing it means she gets to walk. Dottie still wasn’t budging, so I went and got the harness off her, and this time Flower let me put it on her.

Houdini has a leash on her collar and harness to keep from escaping.As we started out the door, I realized something was wrong. When Nigel ran, they were so close together because of the coupler, and she was slower, so it looked like the leash was going to pull the harness up over her head. I started to adjust it, but then decided to try something different. I went back in and got a different leash for Nigel. Then, I took one leash from the coupler, attached it to Flower’s collar, and attached the other coupler leash to her harness. That way, if she tried her Houdini escape routine, she should still be attached to me by one leash.

We had a good walk, although Nigel and Flower, running in front of me, kept switching sides and slowing down, so I had to keep rearranging the leashes to avoid being tangled up. I know that some people say you shouldn’t let them run ahead, but I enjoy seeing them have fun. Flower wanted to stop and smell things along the way, like a normal dog. She has really come far in a year.

Turkey time

The shih tzus have several favorite times of the day, and they all involve food. I split a pouch of Buddig turkey with them at lunch. When I say “turkey time,” Dottie and anyone else on the couch jumps off, and they all run to the back door. Now, with some help from me, the females make their way through the Magic Mesh door and line up on the other side, while Nigel waits inside.

I say each name, and then hand them their slice. Nigel gets his first and Dottie used to be second. However, Flower vies for second position lately, so I trade off. Candy always demurely stands back until her bossy sisters gets theirs and then tentatively comes forward.

Day 338: June 1


I was gone all day long. When I finally settled down on the couch with my laptop, Nigel took his normal place on my left side, with one of his stuffed animals. Flower and Dottie competed for a place next to me on the other side, and even Candy came up and let me hold her for a while.

Day 339/340: June 2-3

Saturday & Sunday

John and I went for a 2-hour, 20-mile bike ride and then to Black Eyed Pea for lunch. I wanted to try to take all of the dogs for a walk today, but then we ended up working on the kitchen. I was also feeling a little lazy because of our bike ride yesterday.

I had some sugar snap peas for a snack this afternoon and offered one to all of the shih tzus. Only Candy wouldn’t take one.

Day 341: June 4


Magic Mesh dilemma

It has been funny watching the dogs with the Magic Mesh screen door. Nigel has no problem going right through it. Dottie must be the second less scared or second smartest, because she will now walk through it too. For Flower, it’s like someone who is afraid of revolving doors. She tries to sneak in behind Nigel, especially if he goes through and not beneath it, and the curtain opens a little. If it shuts too quickly, she stops right in front of it. Candy won’t even attempt it. When she wanted in Saturday night, John went behind her and pushed her little butt through it.

Walk scares

I took Nigel and Flower for a walk this morning. Flower didn’t fight me at all when I put her harness on her and attached the coupler to her harness and collar, and she went willingly to the door. They were both very good crossing the street and going up the hill behind Wal-Mart.

Nigel did give me two scares though. I wasn’t holding on tight enough to his leash and when he saw the neighbor ahead of us with her big dog, Tucker, he broke loose and ran up to greet him. I was afraid that he would try to pick a fight like he seemed to want to do once in Petco. However, he and Tucker were very friendly to each other. Tucker’s mother tried to talk to Flower; Flower kept her distance but didn’t seem afraid.

I had another scare when we were almost home. Nigel ran up to another neighbor’s dog that was not on a leash. This time, the big dog growled; I yanked Nigel’s leash, but he wasn’t budging, so I screamed at Nigel and the dog. Yes, I know. I panic when big dogs are involved. Its owner called it and it ran off. I think next time, instead of walking through our cul-de-sac, I will turn left and take them up the next block, to avoid any more dog encounters.

I intended to drop Nigel and Flower off and take Dottie and Candy next, but Candy ran under the table. I took Dottie for a solo walk, and she was very good. John said the other day that I probably didn’t even need to hold her leash, because she would never try to get away. I think he’s right, but she might feel safer on a leash. When she hears noises, such as workers nearby, she stops and looks at me. Still, she isn’t nearly as scared as she used to be. I am so proud of all of them. I think I will have John work with Candy.

Diaper time?

I am encouraged by the walking situation, but I am still having a house-training problem. This afternoon, while I was sitting on the couch, I kept smelling urine. I couldn’t tell if it was the floor or perhaps a nearby blanket. My assumption is that Flower relieved herself somewhere and I didn’t find it, which usually happens when I step in a puddle. Maybe I need to invest in diapers!

Day 342: June 5


This morning I took Candy and Nigel for a walk, and then I came back and took Flower out solo. Candy was all right when we began, but then something frightened her and she planted her little butt on the pavement and wouldn’t move. I carried her a while and then sat her on the grass. Again, she wouldn’t move. It’s possible that her toenails are too long or she might have too much fur on her paws. Flower was great. I took one leash off of her for most of the way around, because she wasn’t trying to escape.

Delores from BFF Rescue called and asked if we would take care of a little Yorkie mix this weekend. I told her we would.

Day 343: June 6



I know we have done what people always warn dog owners not to do: turned our dogs into beggars! John has been eating oatmeal in the morning. When he comes to sit down with his bowl, Candy, Flower, and Nigel gather around him, waiting to see if he will give them a bite, or better yet, put his bowl on the floor, leaving a little oatmeal in it.


No more tear stains!I have been thinking a lot lately about how far we have come with the shih tzus. For one, it is much easier to groom them these days. Flower’s tearstains are nearly gone, although Dottie might have some.

Flower now loves to go on walks with Nigel and me, although she rebels at putting on the harness and, yes, runs from side to side, tangling up the leashes and me. Dottie will go when I make her. Candy starts well and ends well, but I have to pick her up in between.

The dogs love Sadie Shih Tzu food!I haven’t weighed them lately, but at least I don’t think they’ve gained weight. All but Candy are a little more sociable when people come over. I’ve also learned how to make their treats, to avoid dangers of food processed in China. And, thanks to Liz and Sadie, I also continue to make the wet dog food Liz made for Sadie before switching to Pets4Life Canine Diets. Oh, and one more thing. All of them except Candy can go through the Magic Door (Magic Mesh)!

Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm

Homemade dog treats! Not from China!Because of their antics, Candy and Flower remind me of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. They really make me laugh especially when they come alive, rush the couch, put their paws up, and wag their heads at me. It’s not so funny when they start scratching my legs though. Flower also makes me laugh when she sits on the couch arm and growls at me, and when I look over at it, starts thumping her tail, which usually means she wants attention.

Where we were a year ago:

Shih Tzu Day 63: Aug. 1, 2011

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