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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