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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Shih Tzu Week 117

Back to the Past: Sept. 19 – Sept. 25, 2013

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Friday, Sept. 20

This morning when I went to grab the leashes out of the basket, Nigel wandered back to his bed and Candy wandered under the table. They probably need walking the least, so I decided to just take Dottie and Flower. It’s always easier with less than four anyway. When we got back, I opened the back door so the shih tzus could wander in and out. I so wish we could get Dottie and Candy to use the doggy door, because I am constantly trying to get flies and bees out of the house. I swatted a fly near Candy and she didn’t even run. Sometimes she still startles easily, but she is getting better.

Sunday, Sept. 22

We took the dogs for a walk this morning at Majestic View. I always get a kick out of Flower’s excitement during the car ride. Nigel gets pretty excited too, but Flower is more verbal. If I say, “Are you excited we’re going for a walk?” Flower squeals.

Monday, Sept. 23

We have done well with many areas with the shih tzus, including their relationship with us. I have also noticed that most of their tear stains are gone, although Dottie still has a little brown on her face. However, partly because of the fact that Candy and Dottie won’t use the doggy door, we still have housebreaking issues. It’s not unusual for me to try to figure out where the urine smell is coming from. I realized today that Flower had peed on her couch, so the cushion cover went into the wash. Also, it looked like someone peed on Dottie’s thick blanket that I sometimes sit on. Ick. Candy had been relieving herself on the carpet in our bedroom so I started shutting the door. Then she started peeing on the rug in the bathroom. At least I can wash that, but I also started shutting that door.

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Shih Tzu Journal: Sept. 5, 2012

Mom said one of us should get on here and let everyone know how we are doing! I got voted to do it. Mom usually says how many days we have been here, but she didn’t tell me. I only know we have been here at least 14 months.

Mom takes us for a walk once a day — almost every day. We hate it when she doesn’t. This morning, the Man left for work and I jumped up on the couch and pawed Mom’s shoulders and back until she finally gave up trying to work and took us out. Candy still usually doesn’t want to go for walks, so unless the Man is going with us, she leaves Candy here.

Mom says she thinks the grass bothers Candy’s feet, or she might like to walk. She walks really daintily over it and tries to get to the dirt or pavement. She is really, really slow, so when she comes with us, we have to wait for her. Well, she is the most slow on the grass. When we go to the place Mom calls Majestic View, she is better. But when we go walking on the grass behind that big building called Wal-Mart, she is really slow.

I love, love walking! I love chasing birds! I love sniffing under the bushes! I love it all! What I don’t understand is why Mom always holds the end of my leash, but Dottie always gets to “walk herself,” and now, so does Candy. Sometimes Nigel gets to walk himself too. When we are at the park, Mom lets Candy and Dottie walk themselves unless people or dogs approach us. Then, she quickly grabs the leashes. That’s because Dottie usually gets confused and either runs away from or follows the people. Mom says if I walked myself I would run in front of a car because I would be chasing a bird or a kite and wouldn’t pay attention.

Right now, we’re all taking naps, because Mom is being boring, just typing on her computer. I wish we could go for another walk! I hear some dogs are lucky and get to walk more than once a day! That would be so wonderful!

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Shih Tzu Day 392 (July 25): Nutro Small Breed Taste-Testing Party!

Nutro taste-testing party preparation

table with Nutro crunchy treats.

Well, it finally happened—our Nutro small breed taste-testing party! The day began with washing dog blankets and beds, and then, I managed to get all four shih tzus bathed. John couldn’t help before leaving for work, so I did it myself, as quickly as possible. I towel dried them but then let them air dry.

Our first dog guests, Rosey and Mimi, arrive.


I wanted to make a fresh batch of doggy hors d’oeuvres, even though the dogs would be sampling Nutro biscuits and treats. I made a quick trip to the store for apples and sweet potatoes and made all three of our shih tzus’ regular treats: apple and chicken, sweet potato and chicken, and chicken jerky.

Leticia came over at 2 o’clock, with Oriana, Rema, Junior, Evita, and Cea, my party committee. Their job was to set up the taste-testing table in the backyard, putting out the pomegranate, banana, peanut butter, and apple treats, as well as the reading material supplied by Nutro. They also had the responsibility of filling the goody bags. Nutro sent 10 gift bags, dog bowls, collars, packages of wet food, and 4 lb. bags of Nutro Natural Small Breed kibble. They also sent picture frames, decorations, and glue.

Flower was beautiful but aloof.While the children took care of their tasks, Leticia and I did the shopping. Nutro had graciously given us a Visa card for people food, so we bought lots of fruit for a big fruit bowl (which she decorated with the top of the pineapple), veggies, pickles, olives, a variety of rolls, meats, cheeses, flavored mustards, sweet potato tortilla chips, and Pringles.

Chelsea Girl wasn't sure what she thought of all the dogs.


I also picked up Apothic white and Apothic red wine as well as a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, and Crystal Light appletini and lemonade for the children. When we got back, Leticia was on food detail, with Junior helping, while I checked on the taste-testing table, which looked great.

Guests begin to arrive

Our first guest, John’s sister Lynda, arrived at 6 o’clock. Shortly after that, our neighbor Jan arrived with her cockatoo Chelsea Girl.

Owner, 2 shih tzus and malteseOur first dog guests arrived a little later. Many of our readers know how we came to have our shih tzus, but I will relate the story briefly, since it has to do with these guests. John had been particularly close to our Yorkie Joey, and when she died, he wasn’t sure if he wanted another dog. I always told him, though, that I didn’t want another one—I wanted several, and I wanted a variety, like Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s clan.

Shaymus and BeBe arrive at the party.In early 2011, I met a sweet foster dog at PetSmart named Bella. I found out she was a shih tzu. A little later, my niece Heather had a party and I befriended a shih tzu there. After those two encounters, I was sure I wanted a shih tzu. John and I were taking a bike ride one Saturday morning that June when he pointed out a dog running on the bike path. It looked like a shih tzu—a very scared shih tzu running for its life.

Max surveys the partiers. We ended up finally catching the dog, after chasing her for two miles, and bringing her home with us. Over the next 48 hours or so, I came to really like Rosey. That Monday, though, I made a trip to PetSmart’s clinic; they checked her for a chip, found one, and tracked down the shih tzu’s owner, Jane. As it turned out, Rosey lived with another shih tzu (Tuffy) and a maltese (Mimi). They were very happy to get her back.

Rosey investigates the toy box.

I knew I was going to miss Rosey. That incident led to me looking online for a shih tzu to adopt, and eventually, to us taking in Flower, Dottie, Candy, and last but not least, Nigel. Last week, when I was making out my invitation list for the party, I thought about Jane, Rosey, Tuffy, and Mimi. I didn’t have Jane’s number, but I knew where they lived, so I stopped by and extended an invitation. I wasn’t sure if they would show up, so I was very happy to see them at the door, with Jane’s sister Kathy, and her schnauzer-Chinese crested, Beau.

Chloe arrived ready to taste Nutro treats and make friends.The next guests to arrive were our neighbors, Todd and Kelsey Silvernail, with their new boxer puppy Dexter, their friend Chad, his dog BeBe, and Shaymus, a friend’s Boston terrier that we had met previously. Although this was a small breed taste-testing party, we didn’t discriminate against bigger dogs like BeBe!

When another neighbor, Dorothy, showed up with her dog Chloe and Max, her daughter’s Yorkie, I was surprised to find out that she knew Jane. Their sons had been in band together years ago, and it had been a while since they’d seen each other.

Beau made a new people friend (Chad).With their arrival, we had nine doggy guests! Other people guests to join the festivities included my friend Karleen and her daughter Cassidy, as well as another friend, Susan, and her daughter Allison.

Party poopers

I would love to be able to say that Flower, Candy, and Dottie enjoyed the festivities, but, sadly, they did not. When I take them walking (a recent big victory!), Flower tries to run up and investigate any dog. You would think she would be more comfortable in her own home, but her and Dottie withdrew to Shih Tzu Central as soon as people and dogs started showing up, and Candy retreated to her corner outside. Nigel, of course, greeted each person and dog.

Dottie and Cea at Nutro taste-testing table.After the party had been going for sometime, I carried Candy over to Cassidy, to get a picture of them near the taste-testing table. Candy might not have enjoyed it, but she stayed still, and Dottie allowed Cea to hold her a while. I was encouraged and carried Flower over to Lynda. Flower did what she used to do when she was afraid—pooped on Lynda’s foot, and then jumped out of her arms and ran for the backdoor. I brought her back out later, and as long as I held her she was okay, but she had no interest in joining any of the dog activities.


Evita with Tuffy shih tzu at Nutro taste-testing table.Since it was a taste-testing party, we had good intentions of seeing which dogs liked which Nutro treats best. I didn’t taste any, but as far as scent, the pomegranate was my favorite. Beau and Nigel seemed to like all of the flavors.

Shaymus seemed fondest of the peanut butter treats and the banana ones. We had written down more results on the banners by the treats, but the wind picked up and blew them around the yard, so we couldn’t tell which results went with which treats.

Cassidy and Candy at the Nutro taste-testing table.

(After the party, I tried the taste test again with our female shih tzus, since they wouldn’t try anything with guests around. I have never been able to get them to eat crunchy treats, but Flower tried all of the flavors, and ate all of them but the banana, which she spit out. Dottie and Candy sniffed, and then politely turned their finicky noses away.)


Boston terrier and shih tzu with Nutro goody bag.Jane and Kathy had planned on only staying a few minutes, and although they were the first to leave, they were there for much longer. Kathy said we had given Beau the best night of his life! I think we said goodbye to our last guests around 9 o’clock.

As each person got ready to leave, Rema handed out a bag of goodies for each dog. We were given a coupon book that we could give to one lucky winner, bearing 12 $35 coupons for a free 15 lb. bag of Nutro Natural Choice dog food.

Todd, Kelsey, Dexter, Chad, Shaymus and BeBe prepare to leave.I was so happy with the turnout, though, that I passed the coupons out to all the guests instead. Thanks Nutro, for giving us this opportunity to bring together dogs, family, friends, and neighbors, for a great time! The only thing that would have made the party more complete is if our dog blog friends from around the world would have been able to join us! Please visit our Facebook page for more pictures!

Cassidy and Allison visit Dottie, Candy, and Dottie at Shih Tzu Central.

Rema loads the Nutro goody bags into Jane's car.

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