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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