Shih Tzu Week 123: Halloween and a Special Birthday

Oct. 31 – Nov. 6

Hal­loween 

This Hal­loween is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than last year. That’s because we con­tinue to have house vis­i­tors. When I got up this morn­ing, Panda had climbed into a bas­ket in Mom’s room. John calls what­ever bas­ket he or Spot is in their “high-rise hotel” or “loft.”  I have been try­ing to spend as much time as I can with Mom, since she will be leav­ing soon to go to Florida. We watched “Grey Gar­dens” Hal­loween after­noon. I thought she would like it because of all the cats, but the sit­u­a­tion was a lit­tle too close to home — that is, Mom’s old home.

I dressed the shih tzus up and took them for their tra­di­tional Hal­loween walk behind Wal-Mart. Other than that, it was a very quiet Hal­loween. The neigh­bors did bring their baby over for his first “trick or treat.”

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Fri­day, Nov. 1

Mom and I went to the bank and then to her house to see what else we might need. She wanted her skil­let in which she made Buddy’s salmon cakes, but I couldn’t find it. I might have thrown it away because of hard water deposits.

I have been leav­ing the door to the base­ment open so Mom’s cats could get to their dry food, but Nigel knows it’s there now, so he tries to sneak down and eat it.

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Sun­day, Nov. 3

Mother’s cat, Emily, doesn’t seem to be feel­ing well. We aren’t sure how old she is, but we think she could be 17 or 18 years old. She has been very thin for a long time, and when she was at Mom’s home in Com­merce City, she used to cough a lot. Lately, she just lies down next to the water bowl, with her head against it. I felt so bad for her today that I put a stuffed ani­mal under her head. She put her head on it as soon as I did.

I guess she was too weak to go down­stairs to her lit­ter box, so she wan­dered over to the train­ing pad and peed on it. Too bad she isn’t well enough to teach whichever of our shih tzus still pees on the floor how to use the pee pad properly!

Mon­day, Nov. 4

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Emily died this morn­ing. Although Mom was very sad, she was relieved that Emily died now, instead of pos­si­bly dying on the road trip on the way to Florida. Mom also said that she was happy that Buddy “fol­lows her close so he can pick up the pieces.” Poor Mom. She has gone through a lot lately. I am very glad she has Buddy. She did admit, how­ever, that, “what made me sad made Buddy glad.” That’s because Buddy never seems happy to share Mom with Emily, or the other cats. He tends to growl when they get too close to her. We had become fond of Emily, so John and I shed a few tears for her too.

I am happy to say that Mom still has her sense of humor. Mom spot­ted some urine on the hard wood floor and decided she was going to pick it up. She got down on her knees with a paper towel before I could stop her. Then, she started laugh­ing when she had trou­ble get­ting back up. “Oh, oh,” she started laugh­ing, and you guessed it, said, “Help. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

When Mom gets melan­choly, which is quite often, she repeats a phrase from one of her past cowork­ers at Burger King: “What we gonna do, Buddy? What we gonna do?” I sure hope she can find a way to be happy when she gets to Florida.

Wednes­day, Nov. 6

This will be the first time I spent Mom’s entire birth­day with her since, hmmm, prob­a­bly when I was a child. I gave her a photo album of pic­tures I put together from her time with us, mainly of her furry babies, but I included some of our furry kids, so she could remem­ber them.

I think she really liked all the pic­tures. Spot Collins and Panda were the main stars, but we did get some sweet pic­tures of Emily before she died, and of course I included some of Buddy and Mom.

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Shih Tzu Week 122: The Dog Who Says Meow

Oct. 24 — Oct. 30

Thurs­day, Oct. 24

The incredible disappearing Spot Collins.

The incred­i­ble dis­ap­pear­ing Spot Collins.

Spot Collins con­tin­ues try­ing to get out to see the big world. This morn­ing, when John went to go get the mail, Spot waited patiently by the door. John blocked him from going out, but then he fig­ured out he could just push the screen door and it would open (the latch doesn’t work on it). Luck­ily, I saw him in stealth mode and warned John, so he quickly pulled him back and closed it. We also ended up tak­ing the doggy door out because of Spot. Yes­ter­day he tried to saunter out when the shih tzus went out, think­ing he could blend in. My nick­name for him is “the dog who says meow.”

My nick­name for Panda is “Panda-monium.” That’s because he makes Flower crazy by just being here, so she likes to chase him in around and cor­ner him.

Sat­ur­day, Oct. 26

Heather, Her­man, and Jor­dan came over for din­ner. They brought chicken for chicken and gua­camole bur­ri­tos. I made the gua­camole. They really liked Panda and Spot Collins. Some­body got out a laser light and started shin­ing it on things. Buddy and Spot thought that was a lot of fun. Candy warmed up to Heather and let her hold her for a while.

 Mon­day, Oct. 28

Mom hasn’t yet been able to get used to her new sur­round­ings. She con­tin­ues to want to go down­stairs to bed. She also can’t remem­ber if the cats are allowed to go down­stairs, when that is where their lit­ter boxes are. I hope it’s eas­ier for her when she gets to Florida.

Tues­day, Oct. 29 

I had a bas­ket set up in Mom’s room that I though Panda or Spot Collins might want to sleep in. How­ever, they didn’t seem inter­ested, so I put it up on top of a very tall desk hutch. When I went in the room this morn­ing, Panda was sit­ting in the bas­ket, with prob­a­bly an inch between him and the roof.

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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 Week 120: Expanded Menagerie

Oct. 10 – Oct. 16, 2013 

Thurs­day, Oct. 10 

Out­side it’s dark, cold, and rainy, but inside, it’s warm and cozy. I am in my usual posi­tion on the couch, my com­puter in place, and all four of the dog­gies are with me: Candy in John’s spot at one end, Nigel on the left side of me, Dot­tie snor­ing on the other, and Flower on the other end of the couch. Such a pre­cious fam­ily.

It looks like things are going to get lively around here for a while. My mother called me on Tues­day night because of an emer­gency at her house. Due to the fact that she is 80 and it is get­ting dif­fi­cult to keep her 70-year-old house liv­able, we have to make other arrange­ments. The most log­i­cal solu­tion is for her to even­tu­ally move to Florida to live with my sis­ter, Sandy. It’s going to be a huge adjust­ment for everyone.

Mom comes with a menagerie. Over the decades, Mom has had a long list of cats as well as her faith­ful dogs. Right now, she has Buddy, res­cued from a shel­ter sev­eral years ago, as well as four cats. Emily and Mimi are prob­a­bly about 17 or 18 years old. Spot Collins and Panda, res­cued from a shel­ter a few years ago, are prob­a­bly about 3 years old. Nei­ther Sandy nor myself has the heart to tell mother she has to part with her pets, but Sandy has severe pet aller­gies, so it will be dif­fi­cult for her.

It’s not that liv­ing in Florida is a com­pletely new idea. Mom agreed to move there once before, years ago, but couldn’t bring her­self to leave her home. This time, fate seems to have taken the deci­sion from her hands. Sandy already has plans to go to New Jer­sey in early Novem­ber for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower, so I have sug­gested Mom stay here until she gets back. The plan after that is for Sandy’s ex-husband, Paul, to come through Den­ver after a work trip and fly back to Florida with Mom. He will arrange for some­one to come and taxi the pets all back to Florida.

It’s hard to imag­ine what this is going to look like. We have decided to put the cats’ lit­ter boxes down­stairs in the bath­room and to set Mom up in the spare bed­room across from it. Buddy will sleep with Mom, as he usu­ally does. I am going to try to keep the cats in the base­ment, since I don’t know how Flower par­tic­u­larly will respond to cats in her house. She has chased after any cat that has wan­dered into the house, and tries to bark away any squir­rel that comes near, so this should be fun.

I will be mak­ing a trip tomor­row morn­ing to get Mom and the pets. So, this might just be the last night my mom ever spends in the house she has lived in for six decades. I know that this is not what she wants, but we will try to at least make her and the pets comfortable.

Fri­day, Oct. 11

I man­aged to get all the pets over here and set­tled. I’m sure the shih tzu clan is won­der­ing what on earth is going on. Mom had a really rough day, which means I did too. She’s dis­ori­ented and con­fused, since this is so out of the norm for her. I finally got her to go to sleep for a while, with Buddy beside her.

Sat­ur­day, Oct. 12

Today was bet­ter for Mom. She is still con­fused, but that’s to be expected when you uproot an 80-year-old. I don’t think she cried once today and she slept well.

Tues­day, Oct. 15

I couldn’t sleep so I got up at 4:00 to do some work before Mom gets up. The shih tzus have been doing pretty well with the new liv­ing sit­u­a­tion. Nigel and Buddy do growl at each other because they are both food aggres­sive, so I have to watch them, espe­cially since Buddy is at least twice as big as Nigel. Today, Flower got a lit­tle wild-eyed when Spot Collins, who we think is a Maine Coon, escaped through the base­ment door and into the liv­ing room. I quickly grabbed him to avoid any issues. 

Wednes­day, Oct. 16

The shih tzus might be a lit­tle con­fused about their new house guests, but we are try­ing to make sure things are as com­fort­able and nor­mal for them as pos­si­ble. The girls all gath­ered around John on the couch this morn­ing to get love. Candy was sit­ting on his lap, and again, I am still get­ting used to that develop, since we never thought any of our puppy mill moms would be lap dogs.

After the love fest, they went out­side to eat. While she was on the deck, Flower spied Spot Collins in the win­dow. I had been try­ing to keep him down­stairs, but I decided to give him a break. Flower started bark­ing crazily. It will be very inter­est­ing to see if she adapts.

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Shih Tzu Week 119: Snow!

Oct. 3 – Oct. 9, 2013

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Fri­day, Oct. 4 

It snowed last night. Snow! On Oct. 3! I’m not ready to see my gar­den die! Also, I have been leav­ing the back­door open, since Candy and Dot­tie still don’t go through the doggy door. So today it is closed.

I have begun to think of myself as Flower’s “Daddy Bridge.” She climbs onto my lap, and with­out stop­ping, crosses me to get to Daddy. But I am in no way com­plain­ing. I am just happy that she is that com­fort­able with both of us now. When she isn’t with us, or at Shih Tzu Cen­ter, she likes to sit on the back of the loveseat where she can watch every­body from a com­fort­able dis­tance, and look out the win­dow when she chooses.

Candy also con­tin­ues to make “couch progress.” I never knew what she wanted before when she came up to the couch. Nowa­days it can mean she wants a snack or she wants up. Today, for exam­ple, I reached to get her and she stood still and let me pick her up. Dot­tie was already on one side and Nigel snug­gled close on the other. I sat her on the other side of Nigel, and she even­tu­ally curled up and set­tled down. When she was there, I rubbed her ear and real­ized it was soft inside, not rough as usual. That rough­ness, or “ele­phant ear,” is a sign of aller­gies, although I am not sure to what. I have been putting a lit­tle Aquaphor in her ear, think­ing if it works for my lips it might work for her ear. It seems to be work­ing. Also, a neigh­bor gave us a water cooler, so they mainly get puri­fied water to drink, and maybe that is helping.

Flower jumped up on the couch to join us a lit­tle later, so I had all four of the shih tzus for com­pany, although Flower def­i­nitely looked bored on her cor­ner perch. Candy can only take couch com­fort for so long, so she even­tu­ally jumped down to occupy the bed she and Nigel alter­nate in, by the enter­tain­ment cen­ter. Although he rarely does it, Nigel actu­ally took a bed at Shih Tzu Central.

I have the TV on today, like I often do when I’m work­ing, with the vol­ume down. I just saw an image of an abused dog on an com­mer­cial for an ani­mal shel­ter and it almost made me cry. I am so happy our four shih tzus have a lov­ing home and that there are so many ani­mal res­cues and shel­ters out there try­ing to make a difference.

Sun­day, Oct. 6 

It warmed up enough for us to take the dogs for a walk at Majes­tic View Nature Cen­ter. Since we have worked so hard on our gar­den this year, I have really enjoyed look­ing at their plants and flow­ers, which are usu­ally tagged with their names.

It gives me of ideas for the future. We don’t walk there nearly as much as the shih tzus would like to, since we nor­mally just walk behind Wal-Mart, so it is always a spe­cial treat. I tried to walk all four of them once there with­out John, but it was a fiasco, and I would never try it again.

Mon­day, Oct. 7

Nigel got a bath today. Hope­fully that will stop his scratch­ing. Each one of the dogs took their turns on the couch today again. Of course, Dot­tie is there most of the day. I was watch­ing Flower roll around on the couch for a while. Not sure why she does that, but it’s fun to watch. Maybe she is scratch­ing her back on the couch? Each time I pick up Candy and sit her down on the couch, I think about the past, when she either hid upstairs or in her cor­ner “apart­ment” in the din­ing room, instead of join­ing us. I con­tinue to be thank­ful for how far we have come.

Tues­day, Oct. 8 

John gave the shih tzus their pre-breakfast snack (chicken-wrapped rawhide bone) as usual this morn­ing and they were rar­ing to go. For some rea­son, Candy often doesn’t eat hers right away. She sits it in front of her and guards it. I think she keeps it just to enjoy the game. If any­one comes near it, she sounds her loud siren bark warn­ing. I need to record it, because it’s fierce. Some­times, like today, Flower sits on the other side of Candy’s bone and growls, try­ing to ter­ror­ize her sis­ter to giv­ing it up. How­ever, Candy instead decided it was time to enjoy it.

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