Shih Tzu Week 121: Getting Used to Visitors

Oct. 17 – Oct. 23, 2013

Thurs­day, Oct. 17 

My inten­tions were good when I set Mom and her furry friends up in the base­ment, since she would have her own fridge, bath­room, and plenty of space for lit­ter boxes and food bowls. How­ever, she thought it was spooky, so we moved her and Buddy upstairs last night. She liked it much bet­ter. We also lifted the ban on Spot Collins (her Maine Coon) and Panda enter­ing the liv­ing room, and they made them­selves right at home. I wasn’t sure how Flower would react to cats in her ter­ri­tory, but she seemed to adjust quickly. What a menagerie! Dot­tie and Flower aren’t quite sure how to act with vis­i­tors here. They stayed in Shih Tzu Cen­tral all day but came out and strolled around after Mom went to bed. I said Flower seemed to adjust quickly. After Mom went to bed, she jumped up on the couch Mom is bor­row­ing from her to sniff what has been going on there with another dog. Then, she decided to try to chase Spot Collins away by barking/growling at him, but Spot took a seat on a din­ing room chair and wouldn’t budge.

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Nigel and Candy ran after her, maybe think­ing there was going to be a scuf­fle. It did look like a lit­tle shih tzu gang try­ing to scare off a lone, although big, kitty. Spot didn’t seem very fright­ened, though. Flower couldn’t quite reach him through the chair slats, and he rested on his side, swat­ting Flower away every now and then. Finally, Spot seemed to get tired of the exchange and jumped down and saun­tered towards the stairs.

 Fri­day, Oct. 18

This morn­ing didn’t start out well. When I let Buddy out, Spot Collins saun­tered out behind him. Since it had snowed and I was in my sleep­wear, I had to grab a coat and put on my san­dals. He had already made his way halfway up our tiered land­scape area, so I had to climb over the fence we have there to keep Flower on the ground and chase him down. Then, while hold­ing the giant cat, I had to jump back down. I am con­sid­er­ing putting him on a leash like Jeff and Lynda Petersen do with their giant cat.

Sat­ur­day, Oct. 19

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Sun­day, Oct. 20

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Tues­day, Oct. 22

We have tried our best to keep Spot Collins from going out­side, but now he’s fig­ured out how to go out the doggy door, and then how to get under the deck. We went in under one side and out the other. John had to lure him back in both times. Since he has fig­ured it out, I wish he would teach Candy and Dot­tie to go through it! Instead, we took the doggy door out for the time being. I don’t want to lose him! Mom would be heartbroken.

Wednes­day, Oct. 23

I have been con­cerned about Mom’s things she will be tak­ing to Florida. Sandy is going to have a hard enough time because of her pet aller­gies. I don’t want dusty items to bother her too. While I was going through some of the news­pa­per clip­pings Mom col­lected, I saw one say­ing to put an aller­gic child’s stuffed ani­mals in the freezer to kill dust mites before they sleep with them. Mom’s stuffed cats and tigers didn’t look dusty, but I bagged them and put them in the freezer any­way. I also bagged the stuffed ele­phants Mom made us when we were chil­dren and gave them a turn in the freezer. Can’t wait ’til John finds them and thinks I’ve gone around the bend.

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Shih Tzu Week 120: Expanded Menagerie

Oct. 10 – Oct. 16, 2013 

Thurs­day, Oct. 10 

Out­side it’s dark, cold, and rainy, but inside, it’s warm and cozy. I am in my usual posi­tion on the couch, my com­puter in place, and all four of the dog­gies are with me: Candy in John’s spot at one end, Nigel on the left side of me, Dot­tie snor­ing on the other, and Flower on the other end of the couch. Such a pre­cious fam­ily.

It looks like things are going to get lively around here for a while. My mother called me on Tues­day night because of an emer­gency at her house. Due to the fact that she is 80 and it is get­ting dif­fi­cult to keep her 70-year-old house liv­able, we have to make other arrange­ments. The most log­i­cal solu­tion is for her to even­tu­ally move to Florida to live with my sis­ter, Sandy. It’s going to be a huge adjust­ment for everyone.

Mom comes with a menagerie. Over the decades, Mom has had a long list of cats as well as her faith­ful dogs. Right now, she has Buddy, res­cued from a shel­ter sev­eral years ago, as well as four cats. Emily and Mimi are prob­a­bly about 17 or 18 years old. Spot Collins and Panda, res­cued from a shel­ter a few years ago, are prob­a­bly about 3 years old. Nei­ther Sandy nor myself has the heart to tell mother she has to part with her pets, but Sandy has severe pet aller­gies, so it will be dif­fi­cult for her.

It’s not that liv­ing in Florida is a com­pletely new idea. Mom agreed to move there once before, years ago, but couldn’t bring her­self to leave her home. This time, fate seems to have taken the deci­sion from her hands. Sandy already has plans to go to New Jer­sey in early Novem­ber for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower, so I have sug­gested Mom stay here until she gets back. The plan after that is for Sandy’s ex-husband, Paul, to come through Den­ver after a work trip and fly back to Florida with Mom. He will arrange for some­one to come and taxi the pets all back to Florida.

It’s hard to imag­ine what this is going to look like. We have decided to put the cats’ lit­ter boxes down­stairs in the bath­room and to set Mom up in the spare bed­room across from it. Buddy will sleep with Mom, as he usu­ally does. I am going to try to keep the cats in the base­ment, since I don’t know how Flower par­tic­u­larly will respond to cats in her house. She has chased after any cat that has wan­dered into the house, and tries to bark away any squir­rel that comes near, so this should be fun.

I will be mak­ing a trip tomor­row morn­ing to get Mom and the pets. So, this might just be the last night my mom ever spends in the house she has lived in for six decades. I know that this is not what she wants, but we will try to at least make her and the pets comfortable.

Fri­day, Oct. 11

I man­aged to get all the pets over here and set­tled. I’m sure the shih tzu clan is won­der­ing what on earth is going on. Mom had a really rough day, which means I did too. She’s dis­ori­ented and con­fused, since this is so out of the norm for her. I finally got her to go to sleep for a while, with Buddy beside her.

Sat­ur­day, Oct. 12

Today was bet­ter for Mom. She is still con­fused, but that’s to be expected when you uproot an 80-year-old. I don’t think she cried once today and she slept well.

Tues­day, Oct. 15

I couldn’t sleep so I got up at 4:00 to do some work before Mom gets up. The shih tzus have been doing pretty well with the new liv­ing sit­u­a­tion. Nigel and Buddy do growl at each other because they are both food aggres­sive, so I have to watch them, espe­cially since Buddy is at least twice as big as Nigel. Today, Flower got a lit­tle wild-eyed when Spot Collins, who we think is a Maine Coon, escaped through the base­ment door and into the liv­ing room. I quickly grabbed him to avoid any issues. 

Wednes­day, Oct. 16

The shih tzus might be a lit­tle con­fused about their new house guests, but we are try­ing to make sure things are as com­fort­able and nor­mal for them as pos­si­ble. The girls all gath­ered around John on the couch this morn­ing to get love. Candy was sit­ting on his lap, and again, I am still get­ting used to that develop, since we never thought any of our puppy mill moms would be lap dogs.

After the love fest, they went out­side to eat. While she was on the deck, Flower spied Spot Collins in the win­dow. I had been try­ing to keep him down­stairs, but I decided to give him a break. Flower started bark­ing crazily. It will be very inter­est­ing to see if she adapts.

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Shih Tzu Week 119: Snow!

Oct. 3 – Oct. 9, 2013

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Fri­day, Oct. 4 

It snowed last night. Snow! On Oct. 3! I’m not ready to see my gar­den die! Also, I have been leav­ing the back­door open, since Candy and Dot­tie still don’t go through the doggy door. So today it is closed.

I have begun to think of myself as Flower’s “Daddy Bridge.” She climbs onto my lap, and with­out stop­ping, crosses me to get to Daddy. But I am in no way com­plain­ing. I am just happy that she is that com­fort­able with both of us now. When she isn’t with us, or at Shih Tzu Cen­ter, she likes to sit on the back of the loveseat where she can watch every­body from a com­fort­able dis­tance, and look out the win­dow when she chooses.

Candy also con­tin­ues to make “couch progress.” I never knew what she wanted before when she came up to the couch. Nowa­days it can mean she wants a snack or she wants up. Today, for exam­ple, I reached to get her and she stood still and let me pick her up. Dot­tie was already on one side and Nigel snug­gled close on the other. I sat her on the other side of Nigel, and she even­tu­ally curled up and set­tled down. When she was there, I rubbed her ear and real­ized it was soft inside, not rough as usual. That rough­ness, or “ele­phant ear,” is a sign of aller­gies, although I am not sure to what. I have been putting a lit­tle Aquaphor in her ear, think­ing if it works for my lips it might work for her ear. It seems to be work­ing. Also, a neigh­bor gave us a water cooler, so they mainly get puri­fied water to drink, and maybe that is helping.

Flower jumped up on the couch to join us a lit­tle later, so I had all four of the shih tzus for com­pany, although Flower def­i­nitely looked bored on her cor­ner perch. Candy can only take couch com­fort for so long, so she even­tu­ally jumped down to occupy the bed she and Nigel alter­nate in, by the enter­tain­ment cen­ter. Although he rarely does it, Nigel actu­ally took a bed at Shih Tzu Central.

I have the TV on today, like I often do when I’m work­ing, with the vol­ume down. I just saw an image of an abused dog on an com­mer­cial for an ani­mal shel­ter and it almost made me cry. I am so happy our four shih tzus have a lov­ing home and that there are so many ani­mal res­cues and shel­ters out there try­ing to make a difference.

Sun­day, Oct. 6 

It warmed up enough for us to take the dogs for a walk at Majes­tic View Nature Cen­ter. Since we have worked so hard on our gar­den this year, I have really enjoyed look­ing at their plants and flow­ers, which are usu­ally tagged with their names.

It gives me of ideas for the future. We don’t walk there nearly as much as the shih tzus would like to, since we nor­mally just walk behind Wal-Mart, so it is always a spe­cial treat. I tried to walk all four of them once there with­out John, but it was a fiasco, and I would never try it again.

Mon­day, Oct. 7

Nigel got a bath today. Hope­fully that will stop his scratch­ing. Each one of the dogs took their turns on the couch today again. Of course, Dot­tie is there most of the day. I was watch­ing Flower roll around on the couch for a while. Not sure why she does that, but it’s fun to watch. Maybe she is scratch­ing her back on the couch? Each time I pick up Candy and sit her down on the couch, I think about the past, when she either hid upstairs or in her cor­ner “apart­ment” in the din­ing room, instead of join­ing us. I con­tinue to be thank­ful for how far we have come.

Tues­day, Oct. 8 

John gave the shih tzus their pre-breakfast snack (chicken-wrapped rawhide bone) as usual this morn­ing and they were rar­ing to go. For some rea­son, Candy often doesn’t eat hers right away. She sits it in front of her and guards it. I think she keeps it just to enjoy the game. If any­one comes near it, she sounds her loud siren bark warn­ing. I need to record it, because it’s fierce. Some­times, like today, Flower sits on the other side of Candy’s bone and growls, try­ing to ter­ror­ize her sis­ter to giv­ing it up. How­ever, Candy instead decided it was time to enjoy it.

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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 551, Week 78: Review of 2012

I am very happy to say that this year with the Shih Tzu Sis­ters and Nigel has been full of improve­ments. Yes, there have been some frus­tra­tions, but the achieve­ments more than make up for them. I went back over our jour­nal to refresh my mem­ory on our goals for 2012 and it was a very pleas­ant trip down mem­ory lane.

Dottie Shih Tzu in the snow 2012

The Shih Tzu Clan and the Man

I com­mented last Decem­ber that the shih tzus were get­ting to var­i­ous stages with the Man. They have come so far now that I believe he is now Dad to them. That is one of our biggest vic­to­ries. Although Nigel and John have been close since the day Nigel came to live with us, at one time, Flower, Dot­tie and Candy would all bark like crazy each morn­ing when he came down­stairs, believ­ing him to be an intruder. That grad­u­ally stopped hap­pen­ing ear­lier this year. Candy was the first female shih tzu to grow close to John, jump­ing in the air and wag­ging her tail like crazy when he comes home in the evening. Even­tu­ally, Flower joined the wel­come com­mit­tee. These days, Flower will will­ingly come to him for food and treats and, on occa­sion, jumps up onto the couch between us, where she is con­tent to sit for at least sev­eral min­utes. Dot­tie is still more cau­tious, but even she wags her tail when he gets home in the evening. Dottie’s usual posi­tion was the fur­thest cor­ner of the couch, away from John, and even as far away from me as she could get. Now, like today, she sits right next to me, and even leans across me to get pet­ting from John some­times, or when I am not sit­ting on the couch, some­times even cau­tiously walks over to him for a few min­utes of pet­ting before ven­tur­ing back to her corner.

Shih Tzu Walks and Car Rides

Candy Flower and Nigel Shih Tzu December 2012

One of my big goals of the year was to get the shih tzus used to walk­ing. That was def­i­nitely no prob­lem for Nigel, who came to us fond of walks and car rides. After some early dis­cour­age­ments, we earnestly began our dog-walking attempts in April. First we walked them around the back yard. Then, we started walk­ing them to the nearby Wal-Mart and around a com­mon area in back. We had a few scares when Flower balked and was able to pull out of her har­ness and run from us. We were lucky that we wee able to coax her back, and a new har­ness helped keep her in con­trol. Candy and Dot­tie were also obsti­nate about not want­ing to go for walks, and devel­oped the habit of plant­ing their butts on the ground. Dot­tie even­tu­ally got to the point where, like Nigel and Flower, she got excited when I got down the har­ness and leash bas­ket. Candy is still a lit­tle wishy-washy in this area. We usu­ally have to coax her, but she seems to like it once she is doing it. None of the female shih tzus wanted to go for a car ride when we got them, but that changed when we started tak­ing them to Majes­tic View Park, par­tic­u­larly for Sun­day walks. Now, Flower gladly jumps in the car and Dot­tie trots out and waits for me to pick her up and put her in it. We often have to fetch Candy from a hid­ing place, but once she is in the car, she’s fine, and she seems to enjoy the park walks as much as the others.

Dot­tie and Candy are so well-behaved on walks that we will often drop the leash and let them walk them­selves, when we are in safe areas. In fact, we’ve granted Flower and Nigel that same priv­i­lege on rare occa­sions, but we keep a very watch­ful eye on those two! Nigel tends to want to run to greet strangers and Flower just wants to run!

Nigel Candy Flower and Dottie Shih Tzu in Snow 2012

Shih Tzu House Training

Another area that needed work was house train­ing, which went hand-in-hand with the issue of how to get them to go out of the house to do their busi­ness. In the sum­mer we installed a Magic Mesh screen door. Nigel quickly learned how to exit and enter through it, with Dot­tie learn­ing from him and Flower the next shih tzu to get the hang of it. That cut down on the num­ber of acci­dents inside. How­ever, the cold weather meant that the screen door wouldn’t be much help. We installed a dog­gie door a friend gave us and Nigel again was the first to tackle that chal­lenge. We haven’t had as good luck in that area. Flower has also fig­ured out how to go through it by scratch­ing at it with her paws. She uses it sev­eral times dur­ing the day, either to do her busi­ness or to see if there is a squir­rel around to tor­ment. Dot­tie will only go through the dog­gie door if some­one holds it open, and Candy doesn’t want to have any­thing to do with it. Although Flower tends to do her busi­ness out­side now, over the hol­i­days she, or pos­si­bly Dot­tie, decided to start pee­ing on the couch again. It might have been due to the increased amount of vis­i­tors because I haven’t had to wash the couch cov­ers for days now. Candy isn’t as stand­off­ish as she once was, but she still tends to rush up the stairs when there is too much noise or activ­ity for her. Although she is very good about doing her busi­ness out­side in the morn­ing, she does some­times relieve her­self on our bed­room car­pet dur­ing her alone moments upstairs. Dot­tie seems to be the only shih tzu that uses the train­ing pad in the liv­ing room. Some­times, though, she still prefers to run upstairs, try to get me out of bed, and if she doesn’t suc­ceed, pee on the bed­room car­pet. Even if John is down­stairs in the morn­ing before I get up, she won’t go out­side when he opens the door. The good news is that where they once barked to get me up at 4:30 a.m., they now don’t bark until 7 a.m.! That makes it a lit­tle eas­ier for me to work with their schedule.

Shih Tzu Food and Snack Time

Ear­lier in the year I also started mak­ing their food from a recipe we got from Sadie Shih Tzu. I still use it, but some­times we sim­plify it and instead of putting it in meat loaf pans, sim­ply bake it on a cookie sheet. (The sim­pli­fied recipe calls for ground beef, ground turkey, canned pump­kin, diced green beans and pureed sweet pota­toes.) We have also made progress in the snacks I feed them. I used to buy their treats but had so much trou­ble find­ing treats made in the U.S.A. that I now make most of them, with one excep­tion. Their favorite treat is rawhide sticks cov­ered with chicken. I don’t buy them if they are made in China, but Petco and PetS­mart make some made in other parts of the world, so I buy them, wrap sea­soned chicken around them and dehy­drate them. I also dehy­drate their other treats, such as chicken and apple and chicken and sweet potato.

Shih Tzu 2013 Resolutions

We have some res­o­lu­tions for 2013. One, I still want to make the step up to an Excal­ibur dehy­dra­tor. My round Nesco Amer­i­can Har­vest works great, but I did bor­row a LEM, sim­i­lar to the Excal­ibur, and love the trays that slide out and the size that allows me to dehy­drate more snacks at a time and makes it eas­ier to dehy­drate taller snacks, like chicken-wrapped apples. I think I can ratio­nal­ize the price because of the heavy use, but I haven’t been will­ing to make that step yet. I would like to find a way to per­fect the house break­ing, so we will con­tinue to work on that. One big step will be to try to remem­ber to shut our bed­room door dur­ing the day! I would also like to teach Flower not to bark at squir­rels, which would prob­a­bly make the neigh­bors happy. We have had good luck get­ting rid of tear stains for the most part, par­tic­u­larly with Flower. How­ever, we con­tinue to strug­gle with keep­ing four shih tzus groomed. We bought a Wahl Peanut recently, for some areas that are hard­est to groom, but we need to take the time to exper­i­ment with it! We’ll be back to let you know how we do with these goals! Sug­ges­tions are always wel­come, and we’d love to hear about some of your res­o­lu­tions and victories!

We wish all of our read­ers and friends a very Happy 2013!

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