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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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