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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