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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