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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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.

Taste-testing

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.)

Send­off

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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Shih Tzu Day 367: One Year Anniversary at Forever Home!

Dottie, Candy and Flower head off to Unleashed by Petco.This is Shih Tzu Day 367, the one-year anniver­sary of when Dot­tie, Candy, and Flower came to live with us (this year hap­pened to have 29 days in Feb­ru­ary), on June 30, 2011.

Candy gets fitted with a harness at Unleashed by Petco.

I know I have to catch up on the last month, but I don’t want to miss the oppor­tu­nity to write about today. Since we have got­ten all of the dogs at least semi used to walk­ing on a leash, I decided it would be fun to take them out in pub­lic, par­tic­u­larly since there was an event that sounded fun.

I acci­den­tally ran across an Unleashed by Petco a few weeks ago. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a “mini” Petco. I was fur­ther sur­prised to find out that one had opened up just a cou­ple of miles from our home. As it turned out, it was hav­ing a grand open­ing this weekend.

Dottie enjoys a celebration treat.Candy waits her turn as Flower licks ice cream off John's hand.Why I thought it would be fun to take the shih tzus to it was because I got an email (because I have a PALS card) talk­ing about the give­aways and dis­counts for the week­end, as well as an ice cream social, from 11 to 3 today. I had been try­ing to decide what to do for our anniver­sary, and I thought that sounded very cel­e­bra­tory. I didn’t know if they would be too ner­vous to eat ice cream there, but it sounded worth try­ing. Also, I like the har­ness I had fit­ted for Flower at Petco last week, so I wanted to get one for her shih tzu sisters.

It wasn’t too dif­fi­cult to get them all in the back seat of the car, espe­cially since we went through the same drill ear­lier in the week to take Flower, Candy and Dot­tie in for shots, with Nigel tag­ging along. Dot­tie was shak­ing, but the other shih tzus were pretty calm.

Candy and an anniversary treat.We got to Unleashed at 1, and I imme­di­ately asked some­one if they could help us fit Dot­tie and Candy with har­nesses. The woman I asked sent Patrice over to help us, and I told her that Flower had a medium, but she was a cou­ple pounds smaller and might need a small. Patrice was going to try both sizes on Candy, but she was puz­zled at how to get it on her. I have to admit that it took me a

Nigel investigates the doggy ice cream.

while to fig­ure it out too, and I had been putting one on Flower for days. I was hold­ing onto Flower and Nigel, so I couldn’t show her. With John’s help, we even­tu­ally decided she needed a medium too, and, even though Dot­tie is five pounds heav­ier, she took the same size.

That process was a lit­tle hec­tic. Dot­tie sat by Patrice through­out the fit­tings, but there were lots of peo­ple and dogs there, and Nigel kept try­ing to go make friends with other dogs. I had to keep pulling him back, until Ted, another Petco asso­ciate, came up and played with him.

I had intended on tak­ing pic­tures, but my plan went awry. I didn’t know my bat­tery was nearly dead on my Nikon and my iPhone bat­tery was nearly dead from lis­ten­ing to Pan­dora on a bike ride ear­lier with John. I still man­aged to get sev­eral pic­tures taken before the bat­ter­ies died.

Once we had accom­plished the har­ness fit­ting, I asked where the ice cream was. It was dis­ap­point­ing to learn that although we had arrived at 1, they had already run out of ice cream. My mind was set on it, so I ended up buy­ing some (SweetSpots peanut but­ter and honey) to take home.

I also talked to a Nat­ural Bal­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tive about try­ing yet another kib­ble type, since the shih tzus don’t seem too jazzed about any of the kinds I’ve been given them. I ended up buy­ing Alpha Dog, with lamb, chicken meal and rab­bit. They also gave me some other sam­ples to try.

Flower was the biggest prob­lem child. She was pretty good when we were work­ing on the har­nesses, but later, when I went by the front door, she tried to exit. She didn’t care if it was with or with­out me. I think she’s going into her rebel­lious shih tzu teen years!

Although there was no free ice cream, we did get two pounds of free dog treats from the treat bar on the way out (Nigel is our only shih tzu that really likes biscuit-type dog treats). We also got two $5 coupons to spend when we came in, and there were two more in the bags we got. I’ll use one to get Nigel a har­ness later.

Our out­ing was a lit­tle nerve-wracking, but we got through it. When we got home, I had John slice up some chicken for me so I could make them chicken and apple and chicken and sweet potato treats. Once I had every­thing in the dehy­dra­tor, we put a vari­ety of treats on a tray, includ­ing the dog­gie ice cream, and took them out­side for their own exclu­sive ice cream social. Flower and Nigel loved the ice cream, although Dot­tie didn’t seem to care for it, and Candy would only eat it if I put it on my fin­ger and had her lick it off. Candy pre­ferred the chicken jerky I put out and Dot­tie the rawhide that I wrap fresh chicken around and dehy­drate. It wasn’t the party I planned, but I don’t think they have any complaints.

I know Flower, Candy, and Dot­tie don’t under­stand what this anniver­sary means, but it has been a time for us to look back and reflect. We had some main goals this past year, includ­ing get­ting them used to me, get­ting them used to John, get­ting them used to guests, get­ting them to ride in a car with­out fear, get­ting them to walk on a leash, get­ting them to like going for walks, and get­ting them house trained.

We aren’t com­pletely there, but I think we have made leaps and bounds. Flower can’t wait to go on walks. Candy and Dot­tie will go, but they don’t love it yet. Dot­tie still shakes in the car, but Flower and Candy don’t. Flower, in fact, jumped in the front to ride with me the last two times she went for a car ride. She also got through a vet visit with­out poop­ing on me or the vet. They all wag their tails when I or John comes home, and they will take treats from guests, although vis­i­tors aren’t their favorite pastime.

Yes, we are very happy with the progress we’ve made, and we can’t wait to see what progress we make in the com­ing year. Happy anniver­sary, Dot­tie, Candy, and Flower! We love you!

Oh, and we want to thank every­one who is cheer­ing us on and shar­ing the jour­ney with us!

 

 

 

 

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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

Thurs­day

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

Fri­day

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

Mon­day

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

Tues­day

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

Wednes­day

Oat­meal

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.

Vic­to­ries

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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