Shih Tzu Day 356: Vet & Escape

June 19, 2012

Vet Visit 

Flower and Nigel on the way to the vet.

Flower and Nigel on the way to the vet.

Nigel hasn’t been feeling good, so I decided to make a vet appointment for him and take Flower in for her annual checkup at Clear Creek Animal Hospital. I put her and Nigel on a couple, and she did well in the car on the way to the appointment. She also did well in the lobby and in the exam room, although she did pee on the floor. I was very proud that she let Dr. Lindsey examine her. It was quite different than her exam last year!

Flower with Dr. Lindsey.

Flower’s checkup with Dr. Lindsey.



I shared with Dr. Lindsey how she had been kicked out of grooming class but how she has improved so much since then. She was also good with the other dogs in the lobby on our way out. I stopped at McDonald’s for a Coke and then decided to take her and Nigel into Petco to try on harnesses. And there the perfect morning ended!

The Great Shih Tzu Escape

As we were coming up to the door to enter Petco, it opened and the noise scared her. She bolted, pulled out of the harness she was wearing, and ran out into the parking lot. I was frantically trying to figure out how I was going to hold Nigel and chase her when a woman near the door asked if I wanted her to hold Nigel’s leash. I quickly handed it to her and took off running after Flower.

Flower's new harness, which hopefully is escape-proof.

My hope is that Flower won’t be able to pull out of her new harness and escape!

I chased Flower for five minutes, calling her name, trying to keep my voice calm. She was getting dangerously close to the road, and I was panicking, thinking, “All that hard work and she gets hit by a car!” She finally slowed down and stopped on a grass area near feet from the road. I sat down, opened my purse and pulled out the heartworm treat from the vet, and then coaxed her to me. When she came close enough, I grabbed her. When I finally got back to the door, I thanked the woman profusely for watching Nigel and took them both inside. I found someone to help me fit Flower for a harness that I hope will be escape free!

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Shih Tzu Week 49: May 31 (Day 337) – June 6 (Day 343), 2012

The world is upside down, not me!

Shih Tzu Day 337: May 31


Candy and Flower came to the couch after John left, barking, shaking their heads at me and scratching my bare legs. Before, I would give in and give them a treat—even though they hadn’t earned it. Now, however, I am going to try to take someone for a walk whenever that happens.

Somehow, I need to figure out how to take two sets of dogs for a walk each day, because I don’t think I can successfully walk all four at one time without John. I bought a coupler yesterday from PetSmart, after Liz, Sadie Shih Tzu’s mom, mentioned it, and I thought I would try to use it on Nigel and Flower.

Nigel gets very excited when he sees a leash, so he was the first one I approached. I hooked one of the leashes that came with the coupler onto his harness and called Flower. She approached me, but then ran when I tried to put a harness on her. I finally gave up and put a harness on Dottie. When I tried to attach the leash, she turned around and ran back to Shih Tzu Central to try to escape her fate.

Candy was already in hiding, so it was back to Flower. I thought she might do what she did the other day, so I went to the door with Nigel. I was right; when we got to the door, she bounced over to it. I guess she wants to go for a walk, but she doesn’t want to wear the harness. That means I have to somehow teach her to realize that wearing it means she gets to walk. Dottie still wasn’t budging, so I went and got the harness off her, and this time Flower let me put it on her.

Houdini has a leash on her collar and harness to keep from escaping.As we started out the door, I realized something was wrong. When Nigel ran, they were so close together because of the coupler, and she was slower, so it looked like the leash was going to pull the harness up over her head. I started to adjust it, but then decided to try something different. I went back in and got a different leash for Nigel. Then, I took one leash from the coupler, attached it to Flower’s collar, and attached the other coupler leash to her harness. That way, if she tried her Houdini escape routine, she should still be attached to me by one leash.

We had a good walk, although Nigel and Flower, running in front of me, kept switching sides and slowing down, so I had to keep rearranging the leashes to avoid being tangled up. I know that some people say you shouldn’t let them run ahead, but I enjoy seeing them have fun. Flower wanted to stop and smell things along the way, like a normal dog. She has really come far in a year.

Turkey time

The shih tzus have several favorite times of the day, and they all involve food. I split a pouch of Buddig turkey with them at lunch. When I say “turkey time,” Dottie and anyone else on the couch jumps off, and they all run to the back door. Now, with some help from me, the females make their way through the Magic Mesh door and line up on the other side, while Nigel waits inside.

I say each name, and then hand them their slice. Nigel gets his first and Dottie used to be second. However, Flower vies for second position lately, so I trade off. Candy always demurely stands back until her bossy sisters gets theirs and then tentatively comes forward.

Day 338: June 1


I was gone all day long. When I finally settled down on the couch with my laptop, Nigel took his normal place on my left side, with one of his stuffed animals. Flower and Dottie competed for a place next to me on the other side, and even Candy came up and let me hold her for a while.

Day 339/340: June 2-3

Saturday & Sunday

John and I went for a 2-hour, 20-mile bike ride and then to Black Eyed Pea for lunch. I wanted to try to take all of the dogs for a walk today, but then we ended up working on the kitchen. I was also feeling a little lazy because of our bike ride yesterday.

I had some sugar snap peas for a snack this afternoon and offered one to all of the shih tzus. Only Candy wouldn’t take one.

Day 341: June 4


Magic Mesh dilemma

It has been funny watching the dogs with the Magic Mesh screen door. Nigel has no problem going right through it. Dottie must be the second less scared or second smartest, because she will now walk through it too. For Flower, it’s like someone who is afraid of revolving doors. She tries to sneak in behind Nigel, especially if he goes through and not beneath it, and the curtain opens a little. If it shuts too quickly, she stops right in front of it. Candy won’t even attempt it. When she wanted in Saturday night, John went behind her and pushed her little butt through it.

Walk scares

I took Nigel and Flower for a walk this morning. Flower didn’t fight me at all when I put her harness on her and attached the coupler to her harness and collar, and she went willingly to the door. They were both very good crossing the street and going up the hill behind Wal-Mart.

Nigel did give me two scares though. I wasn’t holding on tight enough to his leash and when he saw the neighbor ahead of us with her big dog, Tucker, he broke loose and ran up to greet him. I was afraid that he would try to pick a fight like he seemed to want to do once in Petco. However, he and Tucker were very friendly to each other. Tucker’s mother tried to talk to Flower; Flower kept her distance but didn’t seem afraid.

I had another scare when we were almost home. Nigel ran up to another neighbor’s dog that was not on a leash. This time, the big dog growled; I yanked Nigel’s leash, but he wasn’t budging, so I screamed at Nigel and the dog. Yes, I know. I panic when big dogs are involved. Its owner called it and it ran off. I think next time, instead of walking through our cul-de-sac, I will turn left and take them up the next block, to avoid any more dog encounters.

I intended to drop Nigel and Flower off and take Dottie and Candy next, but Candy ran under the table. I took Dottie for a solo walk, and she was very good. John said the other day that I probably didn’t even need to hold her leash, because she would never try to get away. I think he’s right, but she might feel safer on a leash. When she hears noises, such as workers nearby, she stops and looks at me. Still, she isn’t nearly as scared as she used to be. I am so proud of all of them. I think I will have John work with Candy.

Diaper time?

I am encouraged by the walking situation, but I am still having a house-training problem. This afternoon, while I was sitting on the couch, I kept smelling urine. I couldn’t tell if it was the floor or perhaps a nearby blanket. My assumption is that Flower relieved herself somewhere and I didn’t find it, which usually happens when I step in a puddle. Maybe I need to invest in diapers!

Day 342: June 5


This morning I took Candy and Nigel for a walk, and then I came back and took Flower out solo. Candy was all right when we began, but then something frightened her and she planted her little butt on the pavement and wouldn’t move. I carried her a while and then sat her on the grass. Again, she wouldn’t move. It’s possible that her toenails are too long or she might have too much fur on her paws. Flower was great. I took one leash off of her for most of the way around, because she wasn’t trying to escape.

Delores from BFF Rescue called and asked if we would take care of a little Yorkie mix this weekend. I told her we would.

Day 343: June 6



I know we have done what people always warn dog owners not to do: turned our dogs into beggars! John has been eating oatmeal in the morning. When he comes to sit down with his bowl, Candy, Flower, and Nigel gather around him, waiting to see if he will give them a bite, or better yet, put his bowl on the floor, leaving a little oatmeal in it.


No more tear stains!I have been thinking a lot lately about how far we have come with the shih tzus. For one, it is much easier to groom them these days. Flower’s tearstains are nearly gone, although Dottie might have some.

Flower now loves to go on walks with Nigel and me, although she rebels at putting on the harness and, yes, runs from side to side, tangling up the leashes and me. Dottie will go when I make her. Candy starts well and ends well, but I have to pick her up in between.

The dogs love Sadie Shih Tzu food!I haven’t weighed them lately, but at least I don’t think they’ve gained weight. All but Candy are a little more sociable when people come over. I’ve also learned how to make their treats, to avoid dangers of food processed in China. And, thanks to Liz and Sadie, I also continue to make the wet dog food Liz made for Sadie before switching to Pets4Life Canine Diets. Oh, and one more thing. All of them except Candy can go through the Magic Door (Magic Mesh)!

Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm

Homemade dog treats! Not from China!Because of their antics, Candy and Flower remind me of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. They really make me laugh especially when they come alive, rush the couch, put their paws up, and wag their heads at me. It’s not so funny when they start scratching my legs though. Flower also makes me laugh when she sits on the couch arm and growls at me, and when I look over at it, starts thumping her tail, which usually means she wants attention.

Where we were a year ago:

Shih Tzu Day 63: Aug. 1, 2011

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Shih Tzu Week 44: April 26 (Day 302) – May 2 (Day 308), 2012

Shih Tzu Day 302: April 26 (Thursday)

Shih tzu with red stuffed animal.Flower has still been sitting on her couch a lot, mainly, I think, because Dottie is mean to her. They were squabbling tonight and it was really getting on my nerves. It’s just like having bratty, little kids sometimes.

Every time Nigel comes up to the couch, he drags up a toy or treat with him. He’s the only one who seems to love toys.

Shih Tzu Day 303: April 27 (Friday)

I went to pick up Dottie today and Flower growled her disapproval. Her bark is definitely worth than her bite.

Shih Tzu Day 304: April 28 (Saturday)

Nigel Shih Tzu asks Candy Shih Tzu to share her birthday presents. I made chicken jerky for Candy’s birthday, which is Monday. We took Flower for a walk again behind the Wal-Mart. I thought she was secure in her harness, but she pulled out of it again. This time, I just sat down on the grass and put my hand out, with cheese in it. She came up to me and I grabbed her collar. The next time I attempt to take her for a walk, I am going to put a leash on her collar and one on her harness.

Shih Tzu Day 305: April 29 (Sunday)

Flower Shih Tzu in her camouflage peace skirt. Flower is such a funny, little thing. Today, she was lying on her back, wagging her front paws at me. I was trying to work on the computer, so I didn’t stop to pet her, but when I looked again, she wagged her paws again. I finally gave up and gave her some petting time.

Shih Tzu Day 306: April 30 (Monday)

Happy 3rd Birthday, Candy!

Today is Candy’s third birthday! We celebrated with the chicken jerky I made over the weekend and the Frosty Paws that was leftover from Flower’s. I also made dog and people treats again this morning. I dehydrated some diced apples for John for oatmeal, and I made more chicken and apple and chicken and sweet potato treats. Candy didn’t eat the Frosty Paws, but the other three loved it. They all love the other treats.

A shih tzu with her face in a cup.Of course, Candy, Flower and Dottie didn’t want to wear the birthday crowns, but they had to wear it long enough for pictures. The peace sign top and skirt I bought her (Ross Dress for Less) was too big, so I passed the outfit on to Flower. I thought they could be twins and I found a size small, but that was too small. I ended up putting her in the Girly Girl dress I had bought Flower.

Shih Tzu Day 307: May 1 (Tuesday)

Restless Shih Tzus

I made up a batch of Sadie Shih Tzu food. It doesn’t last long with four shih tzus. I dragged out my old FoodSaver unit to seal the individual bags. When I came back into the living room, Flower was lying on her couch, with her front paws hanging over, watching over everyone, and wagging her tail. She has so much character. All four of the shih tzus got restless later and started wandering around. I don’t know how they can be bored, when they should be able to just play with each other. Since they do get bored though, it would be great if I could just hand them some coloring books to keep them busy.

They have a big backyard and lots of toys. They aren’t to the point where they like walks, so I know that’s not what they want. My guess is when they start wandering around, they are looking for food, but I can’t feed them all day. I did hold Candy for a while, because she looked like she wanted some loving.

Shih Tzu Day 308: May 2 (Wednesday)

Dog food storage

I was disappointed that there was ice inside the dog food bags I froze, so I decided to invest in a new unit. I cut open the bag of dog food and rinsed the ice away so I could try again. My unit was probably seven years old, so I would imagine technology is better these days. When I read the instructions on the new unit though, I realized one thing I did wrong. They advise that you freeze “wet” food first, and then vacuum seal it, so I will try that next time.

Flower is being ornery again today. Dottie came up to the couch for me to help her up, and Flower growled at her. I guess turnabout is fair play. Dottie always sounds more serious when she growls.

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Shih Tzu Day 109: Touch and Go Leash Training: Flower Escapes!

Leash training trials and tribulations

The girls started barking at 6:45 this morning. I got up a little after 7 so they would stop barking and John could sleep. Candy and Nigel played outside for a while after eating.

two shih tzus preparing for a walk. We decided it was time to do a little leash training again. Of course, Nigel needs no training. He would love to go walking everyday, and I hope we can accommodate him. Our leash training class continued this morning with Candy. There is a grass area behind our local Wal-Mart that is perfect for walking. She did okay, although ever so often, she stopped. i can’t say that she had fun, but she wasn’t as stressed out as she has been on previous walk attempts.

a shih tzu on a leash. We were brave and decided to continue our leash training with Flower. First, when I picked her up, I guess she knew something was up, because she pooped, right down my favorite light blue jeans. I didn’t want to postpone our walk, so I grabbed a microfiber cleaning cloth and water and scrubbed at the spot and then grabbed another one to clean off Flower’s butt. Once we rinsed her off, we put her in the harness we just bought from PetSmart.

a shih tzu resting on a porch.She seemed to be doing okay today, although I knew the leash training was stressing her out. She walked a little with me, very slowly, and then ran a while with John. Suddenly, though, she escaped her leash and harness. It was panic time. If she ran east, she would be running towards Sheridan, a busy street, and if she ran south, towards the apartments behind Wal-Mart. If she ran west, she would run towards our house, but have to cross one street and who knows where she would go from there. Running north, she could escape through an entrance leading to the back of Wal-Mart.

a black and white shih tzuI stayed calm, calling her name and trying to lure her with liver treats. She kept darting back and forth, while John tried to grasp her collar. I was standing near a tree, and she kept coming back to where I was, but if I took a step, she would run again.

In the meantime, I was still holding onto Nigel’s leash, and he was distracting me. John finally told me to put Nigel’s leash around a pole that I imagine was there to make the tree grow straight. I did that, and then concentrated on again luring Flower with the treats. She finally came close enough for me to grasp the ring on the front of her collar. I guess we will have to continue her leash training in our backyard for now. That was a little too scary.

The rest of the day

two shih tzusI was hanging clothes up upstairs after we got back when I realized that my little shadow Dottie was always one step behind me. She is such a sweetheart. When we went back downstairs, Nigel the bone collector had collected several of the girls’ bones in his dog bed. I took a few away and put them back at Shih Tzu Central.

I heard a pitter patter of paws a little later and realized that Candy and Nigel had another play date. They started their waltz-wrestle-boxing match near the dining room, but later moved on to Shih Tzu Central. Later, I noticed Nigel nuzzling Flower, attempting to get her to play. I wonder if Candy thinks he’s two-timing her?

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Shih Tzu Day 60: The Treat Man

John, the Treat Man, Not the Scary Man

It appears that John might be going from being a Scary Man to being the Treat Man.He has been following Lia’s advice, throwing down hot dog pieces when they don’t expect it, so that they will look forward to having him at home. When we got home from church and running errands, Flower started to approach him, without barking, but she stopped herself.  All three came up to him eagerly when he passed out the sweet potatoe and chicken treats. Afterwards, Candy started digging her back paws into the dirt, kicking it up around her. It was a cute sight.

No to the Potty Patch

I had high hopes that the Potty Patch would be our answer to carpets that don’t smell like Parfum de Urine, and that, if necessary, the girls would like to do number two on it as well, although that isn’t as big a problem as the other. Once again, my girls thought it was more fun to scatter the pieces on the carpet, then to actually sit on it and do their business. Maybe I should have sprinkled some dirt on it, to make it look more like real grass, or, in our case, maybe I should have bought one that resembled dying grass.

Candy Joins the Family

Candy had second thoughts about trying to escape.Sunday evening was very peaceful. Dottie took her place beside me on the couch. Candy chose to join us, instead of hibernating upstairs. She spent a lot of time crossing in front of us, going from one end of the living room to the other and back. For some reason, Flower abandoned her usual spot on the hardwood floor for the comfort of the blue dog bed.

Later, she jumped up on the couch, landing half on Dottie. They stayed there quite a while, while John and I watched a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer. The more I listen to Cesar, the more I realize that I tend to reward the girls for bad behavior. He also says it’s important to  begin with structure and then move on to awards/treats.

In one episode, he explained how to put a harness on a fearful dog. According to Cesar, you must first show the dog the harness. Then, take a treat and make the dog come to you and take the treat from your hand, through the harness. Eventually, you should be able to slowly put the food in the dog’s mouth and, while she is submissive, put the harness over her head. I’ll try that next time.

For some reason, one episode caught their attention again. They ran out of the Safe Zone as if someone had flipped a switch. Candy got excited and wagged her tail — a rare occasion — turning her head excitedly. I think they miss other dogs. I hope we can leash train them soon, so we can take them out into the world and see how they react to other dogs.

“I’m a Good Guy, Promise”

John wanted to take the dogs outside without giving them a treat, so they won’t expect it every time. Flower and Dottie wanted to come back in instantly, but Candy came up to him and they had a petting session for a few minutes. When they came in, Candy lay down at his feet. It reminded me of something Cesar said earlier to a dog: “I now you don’t know me, but I’m a good guy, promise.” They have to be realizing that John is a good guy.

I think that Candy touched John’s heart so much that he decided to take them out again later, and this time, really give them a treat. I was working, so I sat that one out too. This time, John was sharing Vienna sausages with the girls. He ate one first, watching as three little noses sniffed the air. Candy came up to him first, winning half a sausage. Dottie quickly grabbed hers and gobbled it down. Flower kept her distance, until John called her name. When she came up, she took a bite, but Candy rushed up and stole the rest of hers. John pulled another one out, since Candy had stolen the rest of hers. He also decided to give the rest to Candy, since she is the smallest. And probably, since she’s warming up to him the most.

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