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 Gardens: Flowers Galore!

Shih Tzu Gardens

Our four shih tzus will tell you it’s been a busy sum­mer with lots of changes! One of the biggest ones has been their back­yard! When they arrived at our home in June 2011, they had a very big back­yard with noth­ing inter­est­ing to look at. Not anymore!

Over the last sev­eral months, we have added to our deck, invested in patio fur­ni­ture and an umbrella, planted a veg­etable gar­den and planted lots of flow­ers. I think we will all be sad when cold weather hits!

Candy and the Secret Garden

Candy Shih Tzu in the garden.

Candy rests near the “Secret Gar­den” of mainly cone­flower (Echi­nacea) varieties.

Flower and the Blan­ket Flower Garden

A shih tzu investigates blanket flowers (Gaillardia).

Flower inves­ti­gates the blan­ket flow­ers (Gaillardia).


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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 Progression

I hate to think when the last time was that I made a post! All I can say is that our puppy mill shih tzus seem to progress daily!

Take today, for exam­ple. When we were sit­ting on the couch this morn­ing, John com­mented about a time when the female shih tzus would bark when­ever he came down­stairs, act­ing like he was an intruder. Now, they act as happy to see him as they do to see me, and they spend a lot of time let­ting him pet them.

Also, Can­dace passed her cos­me­tol­ogy prac­ti­cal test yes­ter­day and I told her I would take her for lunch and we would cel­e­brate with a mimosa. After she arrived, I went to put on my boots and Flower jumped on the couch and began paw­ing at me. Some peo­ple might not real­ize what that sym­bol­izes, but after look­ing back at notes from last Jan­u­ary, it’s significant.

Candy, freshly-groomed, on the way to the park

When I put my boots on, Dot­tie, Flower and Nigel think it means one thing: We are going for a walk! A year ago, that would not have been a rea­son to get excited — except for Nigel. That would have been a rea­son to run and hide. Now, how­ever, I had to tell them I was sorry and promise them a walk when I returned.

Dottie and Candy catching up on a walk

What hap­pened when Can­dace and I returned was another glimpse of their pro­gres­sion. I brought the orange juice and cham­pagne to the table for our cel­e­bra­tion. About ten min­utes later, Flower, Nigel and Dot­tie came to see what was going on. A year ago, the girls would have stayed in their cor­ner. A few months ago, they would have pos­si­bly come and sat by me, but they would have oth­er­wise been unso­cia­ble shih tzus.

Flower gets lovin' from Candace.

Now, how­ever, Can­dace stooped to pet Flower and Flower moved closer to be pet­ted. A lit­tle later, Dot­tie fol­lowed her lead.

After Can­dace left, all the shih tzus started roam­ing around the liv­ing room and star­ing at me. The snow kept me from tak­ing them yes­ter­day, but I didn’t want to dis­ap­point them again, so I got down the har­ness box. Flower flew down from the couch, her tail wag­ging, and Dot­tie wan­dered over. I never know what Candy is going to do, but even she wan­dered towards the door and waited for me to put her har­ness on her.

Nigel and Candy explore an unfamiliar backyard.

Once out­side, the shih tzus sniffed their way along the cul de sac and then towards the open area behind Wal-Mart, Dot­tie and Candy trail­ing their leashes behind them, and me hold­ing on to Nigel and Flower’s. We ended up hav­ing to take a dif­fer­ent route, though. We started going east, but school had let out early, and a hand­ful of teenagers were throw­ing snow­balls at each other. Flower and Dot­tie trot­ted along, Candy raced towards them bark­ing (odd behav­ior for her!), but Dot­tie stopped in her tracks as if to say “Danger!”

I finally gave up and turned them around. Instead, we walked along the main road, beyond where we usu­ally turn to go home. The condo com­plex on the next block is get­ting a new fence, so the fence has been tour down. Nigel, Flower and Candy wan­dered through the back­yards, fas­ci­nated by new ter­ri­tory, until I turned them around to go home.

With all the progress, I do have one thing to work on. I try to feed the shih tzus equally, and although Nigel and Candy stay thin, Dot­tie and Flower are def­i­nitely look­ing a lit­tle “plump.” John has taken to call­ing them his lit­tle “Fat Girls” (after the “Fat Boys” in the recent ver­sion of Alice in Won­der­land. So, our big goal for this new year is to slim down our lit­tle angels!

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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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