Our Weekend Foster Shih Tzu

We had a guest shih tzu this week­end. Delores from BFF Res­cue called April 10 and asked if we could watch a one-year-old fos­ter shih tzu for the week­end. His fos­ter fam­ily was going to be out of town. I was hes­i­tant, espe­cially since it was a boy, and Nigel doesn’t seem to like other males step­ping into his Shih Tzu King­dom. Also, since I am now a con­firmed shih tzu lover, I imag­ined I would fall in love with him and hate to see him go. But I said yes.

Zeus the foster shih tzu

Zeus arrived Fri­day, April 12, early in the after­noon. When she dropped him off, she said that she would be pick­ing him up Sat­ur­day after­noon to take him to meet a cou­ple con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing him.
Zeus is black and white and looked like a cross between Nigel and Dot­tie. Like most dogs I’ve met that go through the “dog­gie fos­ter sys­tem,” Zeus is slim. Delores said he prob­a­bly weighs about ten pounds. I think Nigel weighed nine pounds when we got him, but Zeus looked even thin­ner because he has longer legs. Nigel looks quite a bit heftier, prob­a­bly because he has prob­a­bly gained five pounds since com­ing to live here, and because he hasn’t been groomed for a while, so his long fur makes him look even bigger.
Zeus made me real­ize that I seri­ously have to rethink what I feed our shih tzus, or, more exactly, how much.  I don’t tink Candy is over­weight, but Dot­tie is less active and def­i­nitely is, and Flower and Nigel could stand to lose a pound or two.
Delores warned me not to pick Zeus up right away, because she said he has a ten­dancy to nip at peo­ple. He seemed right at home from the minute he arrived. It didn’t take long for him to jump up onto the couch and claim the arm on the John and Nigel side of the couch. Later, I had book­ends when Flower jumped up and took her place on the other end, where she likes to sit.
Zeus fol­lowed me around all after­noon. When I went into the bath­room, he jumped into the tub, pos­si­bly look­ing for water, and then jumped back out. When I went into the bed­room, he swiftly jumped up on the bed. I was sur­prised, since I don’t think even Flower, our jumper, can do that. At least she hasn’t attempted it.
When Can­dace came home from work, she quickly took a lik­ing to Zeus, and he began fol­low­ing her around. Zeus sat between us that evening while we were watch­ing TV. I saw what Delores meant when I made a quick move­ment with my hand too close to his face and he nipped at my fin­ger. I was more care­ful the rest of the evening.
I fig­ured he was the kind of shih tzu that would want to sleep with his humans, so I asked Can­dace if she wanted to take him to bed with her. He stayed with her through­out the night.
The next morn­ing, she com­mented that she was con­cerned that he wouldn’t go to a good home. I know that she would have con­sid­ered adopt­ing him if she had her own place.
Delores arrived at about 1:30 to pick up Zeus. She called a few hours later to let me know that the cou­ple had decided to adopt Zeus and to thank us for tak­ing care of him.
I was very happy that BFF Res­cue had once again found a home for an adorable lit­tle shih tzu. I hope he brings his new fam­ily as much joy as our four lit­tle ones have brought us!

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Shih Tzu Day 172: Personalized Dog Tags for the Shih Tzus

which dog tags for the shih tzus 

dog tags and collars for Christmas.I have been say­ing for months that I wanted to get the shih tzus per­son­al­ized dog tags. When we adopted Candy, Flower and Dot­tie from BFF Res­cue, they came with a generic red col­lar and tags say­ing BFF Res­cue, with the ani­mal rescue’s num­ber. Nigel did too.

I didn’t think about it that often, but some­times when I saw a tag in a pic­ture, I would think that it looked like they were still res­cue dogs, and not dogs that had found their for­ever home.

Buy­ing tags — and col­lars to match — for four shih tzus is slightly more expen­sive than buy­ing them for one dog, so I kept putting it off. Today was our wed­ding anniver­sary, and after we cel­e­brated with a nice Ital­ian lunch, we did some Christ­mas shop­ping for our furry chil­dren. John and I looked at PetS­mart for tags, but I wasn’t that thrilled about any of them. We went into Petco and I liked their selec­tion bet­ter. It took us a while to decide what we wanted, but I even­tu­ally got Flower a peace tag, Candy a princess tag, Dot­tie one with a crown and Nigel one that said “stud.” We picked out a pur­ple col­lar dec­o­rated with flow­ers for Flower, a pink one with polka dots for Dot­tie, a black one with skulls for Nigel and a blue one with a pink, pais­ley design for Candy.

I know the dogs won’t under­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of per­son­al­ized dog tags, but I am happy that we finally accom­plished that task. Of course, I hope no one ever has to iden­tify the shih tzus by their tags, but just in case.

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Shih Tzu Day 121: Further Housebreaking Dilemmas

shih tzu cat alert

Candy woke us up bark­ing at 6. John went down­stairs to inves­ti­gate and said there were cats fight­ing in the back­yard. Our guard shih tzu sounded the alert about three times.

Our house­break­ing dilem­mas con­tinue. When I came down­stairs, there was a big, wet spot on John’s end of the couch. My guess is that it was Flower. I hate putting pee pads on the fur­ni­ture, but I did.

a shih tzu on a hardwood floor.When I talked to some­one at PetS­mart, he told me that we might have to just do what peo­ple do with pup­pies and ken­nel train her. I hate to do that. To be fair, I feel like I would have to only do that with Flower. I imag­ine her in her ken­nel watch­ing her shih tzu sis­ters run­ning around enjoy­ing their freedom.

I’ve con­sid­ered block­ing off our couch or putting the cush­ions up before we go to bed. I think Candy and Flower like sleep­ing on it, so that would end that. Also, we could shut them all up in shih tzu Cen­tral at night. I like to give them the free­dom to run around and to come up the stairs in the morn­ing. I’ll have to think about it more.

dog bed habits 

When the shih tzu sis­ters came to live with us as fos­ter dogs, BFF Res­cue let them bring a blue and white dog bed and a grey dog bed with them. The grey dog bed was get­ting a lit­ter tat­tered on the bot­tom, so I replaced it recently with a pink and white one. Candy nor­mally lies in the pink one, but since she also likes lying down in the cor­ner in the din­ing room, I put the grey bed over there. She has been get­ting use out of both of them.

Flower con­tin­ues to spend some of the time in the blue dog bed and an equal amount of time “behind” the dog bed, rest­ing her head on it. I’m not sure why she does that. Maybe she just feels “safe” behind it?

will the shih tzu sis­ters be lap dogs?

two shih tzus in conversation.When I inter­act with the shih tzus, I some­times think of Delores at BFF say­ing that they will get in our laps at some point. I have seri­ous doubts about that. They seem per­fectly con­tent at arm’s length. Nigel, on the other hand, likes to cud­dle up next to me, which makes it hard to work. He def­i­nitely wants to be a lap dog. He climbed up on my lap today, and sur­pris­ingly, the way he was lay­ing, I could actu­ally reach the key­board, so I let him stay there a while.

false alarm

I’m not sure what was going on out­side this after­noon, but the shih tzus heard a noise and they all ran to the front door, I guess think­ing it was the Treat Man. Candy was shak­ing her tail feather. About ten min­utes later, they heard it again, and Flower, Candy and Nigel ran to the door together. It was so cute.

some­thing even more disgusting

So, there might be some­thing more dis­gust­ing than your shih tzu pee­ing on the couch — your shih tzu poop­ing on it. Yes, I know. Gross. But Flower man­aged to do it today, and since she wouldn’t clean it up, I had too. Since the spot had to dry off, there wasn’t much dog prop­erty. Dot­tie sat with me after the clean-up job. Candy lay on the floor, watch­ing us. Nigel was chew­ing on a treat con­tently in his dog bed, and Flower sat next to the bed, watch­ing him.

While I was watch­ing her, I was notic­ing how much her eye­lashes have grown back. I’m not sure if they were both­er­ing her eyes, so I think I will let them grow back for a while. She is such a cute lit­tle May­belline baby again. I call her Mar­i­lyn, but I know Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe didn’t poop and pee on couches and carpets!

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Shih Tzu Day 101: Puppy Mill Before and After Shots

A glimpse at puppy mill life

A shih tzu the day she was rescuedshih tzu in a green sweaterWhen I checked my email this morn­ing, I saw one from Linda at the Sheltie Shack. She had found the pic­tures I asked for of Dot­tie, Flower and Candy from the day she had res­cued them from the puppy mill. I didn’t  know what to expect.

The first attach­ment I opened was Dot­tie. She was sit­ting in hay in some type of enclo­sure. She looked for­lorn and disheveled. The next attach­ment was a pic­ture of Candy. Another sad look­ing shih tzu, with long, dirty hair hang­ing over her face, cov­er­ing one eye.

Those pic­tures made me very sad. I knew the last pic­ture would have to be Flower, but when I opened the attach­ment, it was hard to rec­og­nize her. She looked more like an unkempt sheep than a dog. I couldn’t see her eyes at all.

A shih tzu the day she was rescuedshih tzu in pink sweaterMy heart broke for my lit­tle girls and the time they spent at a puppy mill. It also broke for all the other dogs forced to live in those con­di­tions, for the sake of giv­ing other peo­ple fluffy lit­tle pup­pies as pets.

As I looked at the pic­tures, I looked at Dot­tie, Flower and Candy in their safe zone in our liv­ing room. They were wear­ing sweaters I got them to cel­e­brate their first fall with us. My guess was that no one at the puppy mill where they came from ever saw a need to groom these lit­tle puppy pro­duc­ers. I seri­ously doubt that any­one came by and held them, hugged them, kissed them and told them that they were loved.

a shih tzu the day of her rescueThose pic­tures were a sym­bol to me. Yes, where they came from might have been legally clas­si­fied as a “com­mer­cial ken­nel,” but that ken­nel was a puppy mill all right. No dogs should have to expe­ri­ence what they expe­ri­enced. I have no idea what that full expe­ri­ence was, but I know they weren’t the pam­pered lit­tle princesses that many shih tzus and other dogs are to their humans. I am so grate­ful that they can expe­ri­ence life from the other side now.

shih tzu in red sweaterIt’s true that they might never act like other shih tzus who never lived in those con­di­tions. They might never crawl into my lap, but they might. They might always show signs of fear in some way or another. But at least I know that John and I are doing our best to give them a great life from this point for­ward. And I am thank­ful that other puppy mill moms, many who have had far worse lives, find lov­ing, for­ever homes each day as well. I am very grate­ful for orga­ni­za­tions like the Sheltie Shack and BFF Res­cue that make it a point to help these dogs find good homes.

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Shih Tzu Day 92: And Then There Was Nigel

Spot Collins

a tabby next to a shih tzu on a dog bedThe girls still don’t quite know what to think of Spot Collins. He makes reg­u­lar trips to Shih Tzu Cen­tral, to drink from the girls’ water bowl and to try out the dog beds. He seems to pre­fer lying next to Flower, although she doesn’t seem as happy with the arrangement.

groom­ing practice

a shih tzu sitting on her sisterDelores at BFF Res­cue called me today and asked if I would have time to help her groom some new dogs she got in that will soon be going to fos­ter homes. Bar­bara, her daughter-in-law, usu­ally helps her, but she was out of town and I had told Delores about my groom­ing class. If John had been avail­able, I would have asked him to come with me, since he does the most groom­ing, but he was work­ing, so I agreed to help out.

maltese-poodle mix on couch

When I got there, Delores was con­duct­ing a nec­es­sary pro­ce­dure: using flea and tick sham­poo on one of the dogs that looked like he might have had a prob­lem recently. My York­shire ter­rier never had that prob­lem, so I wasn’t sure how to tell if it looked like fleas or ticks were present. Delores pointed out to me small dark spots on one of the dogs. She said if they weren’t mov­ing, the prob­lem had been fully taken care of by the treat­ment they received before she took them into her care. That seemed to be the case, but to be safe, I helped her wash another dog with the sham­poo as well.

Once we dried them off, I went to work clip­ping a maltese-poodle mix and then a type of ter­rier. They both han­dled it bet­ter than our dogs. The poo­dle lay down on its side and went to sleep while I was clip­ping him. I plan on try­ing that on the girls, since I just read that was a good way to groom in some instances, since you need to teach fear­ful dogs how to be calm and relaxed on the groom­ing table.

intro­duc­tion to Nigel

black and white shih tzu on couchWhile I was there, I met Nigel, the shih tzu Delores asked us to fos­ter. He is about a year and a half and only 10 pounds, which is a pound and a half lighter than Candy. He seems smaller though. Nigel is what is referred to as an owner release. He was dropped off at a shel­ter in Kansas City, Mis­souri, where they dis­cov­ered he had a seri­ous cause of pneu­mo­nia. I imag­ine the fam­ily wasn’t able to afford the vet­eri­nary care he needed.

Shih tzu face offThat shel­ter treated him before send­ing him on to BFF Res­cue. As is the usual case, BFF took him to Clear Creek Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal, where Doc­tor Lind­sey exam­ined him prior to his needed ster­il­iza­tion pro­ce­dure. Dur­ing the exam, she dis­cov­ered that he had a large her­nia that would need surgery as well. She per­formed both surg­eries yes­ter­day, and pre­scribed antibi­otics and pain med­i­cine for ten days. Delores and I had arranged that I would get him Fri­day, but since I was already there, I said I would just take him home with me.

I would describe Nigel as a scrawny lit­tle dog, prob­a­bly because he has been sick for a while. His face is so black that it is hard to see his eyes. It wasn’t the color as much as the wild­ness of his fur around his face that made me think of James Brown. The white fur around his neck is quite a con­trast to his black face. His paws look huge com­pared to his tiny legs.


tabby cat and shih tzu on couchI wasn’t sure what the girls would think about Nigel. When we walked in the door, they didn’t get excited, but they also didn’t seem dis­turbed by his pres­ence. They just watched him. He toured the house, includ­ing Shih Tzu Cen­tral. A lit­tle later, he vis­ited their cor­ner again, this time to begin steal­ing bones and mainly unused toys from them. We will have to get him his own dog bones and toys, as well as a dog bed. He didn’t come with one, like Flower, Candy and Dot­tie did.

wel­come committee


shih tzu waiting for treatNigel grav­i­tated towards Spot Collins, maybe because they are the “out­siders.” When they heard John’s truck in the dri­ve­way, the girls started bark­ing as usual. Candy ran to the door, wag­ging her butt. Spot Collins fol­lowed, with Nigel right behind him, wag­ging his tail.

John was happy about his wel­come com­mit­tee. He has been so patient with the girls, even though they still shy away from him — espe­cially Flower and Dot­tie — three months after get­ting here. It was nice for a dog to instantly respond well to him, since he is such a dog per­son and so good to all animals.

When the dogs fol­lowed us out­side for their nightly treat from the Treat Man, Nigel for­got his man­ners and maneu­vered his way quickly to the begin­ning of the line for pos­si­bly his first taste of Milo’s Kitchen chicken jerky.

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