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Singing Shih-Tzus

For Christmas, I bought one of the singing and jiggling figurines from Hallmark. The one that caught my attention was the snowman and his little dog who sang and howled to Jingle Bells. So, I picked it up and brought it home.

Well, little did I know that Bruiser was an aspiring chanteur. He is so enraptured by the little ornament, whenever I ask if he wants to "sing", he runs to the couch, perches on the arm over the figurine, and waits for me to turn it on. He then barks and howls as best he can to the tune. He has taught himself how to howl like the little dog figure at the end of the song and is quite proud of his vocal abilities.

Rocki doesn't "sing". However, he does jump up on the chair with Bruiser, wag his tail and generally provide moral support.

Christmas...not just for humans!

Our festive mood begins as we haul up the Christmas decorations and start the process of decorating our home for the holidays. Of course, our ever-astute pooches pick up on our mood and their excitement translates into tearing around the house, jumping on tables and chairs, and attacking all the new items that appear in their territory.

I took a picture of Bruiser, our oldest, guarding the fluffy Xmas decoration against Rocki's sneak attacks on most inanimate objects. Bruiser has appointed himself "big boss" of the house and general security, ensuring his brother doesn't get into anything he himself doesn't feel like getting into. In this case, because Rocki was having so much fun with this toy/ornament, Bruiser has decided to watch over it...that is, until he feels like attacking it himself.

Why two are better than one

Two dogs generally equal more work...two to bathe...two to groom...two to feed. But the benefits outweigh the perceived disadvantages.

For one thing, bathing two is not too much harder than bathing one. Throw both of them in the tub and you're done in 10 minutes. Feeding? Two don't eat much more than one, especially these little guys. Grooming? So it takes 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes.

Our oldest was depressed before Rocki came along. I didn't realize it at the time...how could you? But after we got Rocki, Bruiser realized he had a purpose. He took it upon himself to treat Rocki like his own child...he taught him the rules of the house through body language, growls and barks. Rocki is always clean...Bruiser "washes" his eyes, ears and face every night and Rocki has learned the routine and reciprocates with his brother. I no longer have to purchase expensive products to clean the dirt from their eyes because they look after each other. After their outdoor bathro…

The Shih-Tzu "Racetrack"

Anyone that has a Shih-Tzu knows about the racetrack. Even when our oldest was small, he would often get that little gleam in his eye, jump up and start running as fast as he could around the coffee table until he dropped from exhaustion. As time went on, the circles around the table widened to encompass the kitchen island and any other area he could use to create a little "track" where he ran like a wild dog. All you saw was a flash of white...if you blinked, you missed him.

When we got his brother, the racetrack continued, except there were two of them running their little hearts out. It's something that's in the breed...they get it into their head that they're going to run and all hell breaks loose! If you start opening doors, all of a sudden the staircase, the living room, the kitchen and the family room become part of the track where they run as fast as they can in wide, sweeping circles until they finally collapse and succumb to a little nap.

What do you know about the person grooming your dog?

Bear with me as I tell you a story of what happened to our dogs and hopefully will never happen to yours.

I used to have a mobile groomer, and for us this was a great setup. She came to the house, had her own equipment, and she allowed me to help keep the dogs calm while she snipped and shaved. This also gave me the opportunity to ensure that my pets were treated well and felt comfortable. Although she was nice, there was something that ate at me which I dismissed.

Then, she had a baby. At that point, she decided not do mobile grooming but invited us to bring our little boys to her home where she had a room set aside for this purpose. We brought our dogs to her home twice. The first time they came out looking horrible...some areas seemed groomed and other areas looked like she didn't bother with them. We brushed it off as being distracted by her new baby (even though her husband was home). Although she seemed a bit snippy, I chalked it up to fatigue and told my husband we'd give…

Mats

It's a fact of life when you have Shih-Tzus - they get mats. It doesn't matter how often you wash them or brush them, they're going to have mats. So what do you do?

I used to try brushing them out but this is very time consuming and sometimes doesn't really work no matter how hard you try. I did go to the pet store and pay $18 for a little rounded contraption called a "mat remover" that you place in the mat and slowly work up through the fur...the little razor-like insides are supposed to cut through the mat. It works better than a brush, but it's still time consuming and we all know what it's like to get our Shih-Tzus to sit still while we're doing this...next to impossible.

This evening I gave the boys a bath. Little Rocki has some mats...his hair is longer since I didn't have him cut after he got out of the hospital (when he had Parvo) because they had to shave some areas where he had blood tests and the intravenous and I wanted to wait until…

How often should you bathe your dog?

For some reason, people seem to think that frequent baths are not good for dogs. Perhaps some poor animal who got washed with laundry detergent and cold water from a hose started the rumor...who knows? In any event, bathing is a good thing. And yes, you can do it once a week. I certainly do...even though my boys are not too happy with me at bath time, it is a different story when they're nice and clean. Their whole attitude changes...they are happier, livelier and far more rambuncious.
Always use a shampoo formulated for dogs, however, pay attention after the bath to their reaction. Our oldest dog has always had sensitive skin. After experimenting with a few shampoos, I ended up going back to puppy shampoo which helped a lot. However, my best find, and the shampoo I'm using now, is an Oatmeal shampoo (with some Awapuhi moistuizer thrown in for good measure!). Sometimes it's a bit of hit and miss, but you will find a shampoo that works with your dog.
Use lukewarm water, bein…

Man Tries to Drown His Shih-Tzu

"Police say Casey Purser became angry yesterday after one of his two dogs, a Shih Tzu named Toby, defecated on the carpet of his Van Nuys home. Police say he then threw the dog in a bathtub and attempted to drown it."

I just read this news story and it really made me wonder why people get dogs if they are afraid that the dog may do something on their carpet. Well, here's the reality check. Even if you bother training them (which some people don't...the dogs are simply expected to know that the carpet is valuable), your pets are still going to slip up from time to time. In the case of a Shih-Tzu, they will inadvertantly pee and poo on your floor or carpet if they are scared or highly stressed, and they will intentionally do their business in the house if you piss them off. In the latter case, when you catch them they will look at you as if to say "yea...so what are you going to do about it?".

The bottom line is that your Shih-Tzu, or any pet, is an animal. The…

Dog days of summer...

The boys love being on the grass, and this is one of the last times they'll be able to romp around as we hear rumors that snow is coming within two weeks.





Their favorite spot? Grandma's house, of course, where the grass is lush and the yard was just built for rambuncious dogs to run to their heart's content.


Of course, stopping to smell the flowers and dig around the plants is a wonderful passtime, nothing beats running around a wide open yard!

Treats!

Everyone loves treats! For us humans, it's salty chips or sweet goodies like chocolate, cookies and ice cream. As for our dogs, they need treat time too!

Although I know it's not vet-approved to feed them ice cream, the truth is...I do it! I buy little cups of vanilla ice cream and give it to each of them in bowl. This is the highlight of their week and I just don't have the heart to cheat them of it.

Fruity yogurt? Yes, I'm guilty of giving them little bits from the bottom of the cup when I'm done. So sue me!

Crispy plain potato chips? They love them and when I get to treat myself on NFL Sunday, they get a little treat too. Is it good for them? Probably not. Is it good for me? Definitey not. But we all share it anyway. So there!

There are a lot of things we should and shouldn't eat and the same goes for your dogs. But in the end, we're all living creatures and yes, I hate to admit it, but somehow the food that isn't good for us tastes so damn good. (and my…

As the cooler weather comes, don't forget this!

As summer slowly seeps into autumn, the nights cool off and our heaters come on. Our dogs' coat starts to get a bit thicker in preparation for the cold months ahead. So what do you need to do?

Have lots of water on hand. Since our heater started coming on intermittently at night, I've noticed the water dish has almost run dry a couple of times. All heaters dry out the house so just a quick tip...make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, cold, clean water at all times.

And don't forget as the air gets dryer, there may be more static in your dog's hair. Make sure you also have a good conditioner to use after a bath. Whether it's a liquid that you wash out or, my favorite, an all-natural spray that you leave on, check your dog's coat and condition it according to the dryness.

A Day in the Life of the Shih-Tzus

The boys wake up at about 6:15 a.m. when the coffee maker goes on and I plod sleepily down the stairs. Sometimes they are waiting for me after the pre-dawn wrestling match. Other days, they are sprawled amongst their beds and cushions and lazily open an eye to see who disturbs them. When they realize it's just me, they curl back up and continue snoozing. I usually try to get them to go outside, but more often than not they hear the word "outside" and go back to sleep. Some days my nagging and cajoling actually inspires them to rise, saunter slowly to the door, stick their nose out, sniff and then decide they don't feel like it and trot back in.

After I'm dressed, I come back down and my husband and I meet for our morning coffee. By this time, the boys are up and they finally will go outside, although very unwillingly some days. Then they come in to get their treat for being good and proceed to wrestle, chase each other around the coffee table and generally cause m…

The Nervous Shih-Tzu

Shih-Tzus, like any dog, particularly a small one, can develop nervous tendencies. One of the things I have noticed that causes nervousness is exposure to sudden, loud noises.

Our oldest started getting very nervous when it came time to go outside after the municipality installed some "crackers" by the lake to scare off the geese. It sounds like a shotgun going off, but it's enough to send the geese flying off. Unfortunately, it set my little guy off to the point he wouldn't even go outside to do his business. It was finally removed and now he's slowly making his way out again, albeit warily.

The second thing that happened was a carpenter started working on our basement and used an air nailer. Well, I thought our oldest was going to go clear out of his skin. He shook, he wouldn't leave my lap, and at one point he got so nervous and disoriented he pooped on the carpet...something he never ever does. We've actually started taking him to my mom's house dur…

What Shih-Tzus like...and we wish they didn't!

My last post was the top five things that Shih-Tzus love. However, there are other things they really (really!) like that drive me nuts. Here's the list...

1. Mud. They love to eat it, roll in it, stick their faces in it and dig it up. And what a mess I end up with when my two little white pooches come tearing proudly into the house after a mud wrestling session. Their favorite mud is wet...but dry mud is okay with them too.

2. Poop. They're fascinated with their own and other dogs' droppings. However, we live next to a small, man-made lake that is a favorite gathering place in the spring and fall for Canada geese. Of course, with gaggles of geese come piles of poop, and if I take my dogs walking near the lake, they gobble up the goose poop like it's fine caviar. Not pleasant to watch, and even more unpleasant to wrestle from their mouths.

3. The latest...dead birds. See my previous post for details. Not healthy at all, and disgusting to witness. Where did my sweet lit…

Five Things That Shih-Tzus Love!

Have you ever wondered what makes these adorable little creatures really happy? Here's a quick list of what our dogs (and their brothers and sisters) really enjoy.

1. A big blanket/comforter/afghan draped off the side of a couch or chair. They love sleeping on it, and often like to hide behind it between the blanket and couch and snooze (so watch where you're stepping!).

2. Side scratches. Not unlike the tummy scratch, they will lay on their back and contort themselves slightly sideways so you can scratch the side of their head, ears and body all the way down to their legs.

3. A big cushion. I bought a body cushion for the cottage but ended up bringing it home when we redecorated. It's got a velvet like cover and is approximately 4 feet long. They love to sleep on it - one on either end - at night. But not on top of it...they sleep like we do on their backs with their bodies on their sheepskin rugs and their heads and necks on the pillow. They also love to scratch at it, figh…

Rocki Returns to his Wild Roots

The boys went tearing outside this evening for the ritual barking when the neighborhood collies passed by the yard. So I didn't think it was too unusual when Rocki went from the patio to the grass. We always joke that Rocki must be part Husky because no matter what the temperature, he wants to frolic around outside.

Today was a bit different. He was sitting quietly in the grass chewing. His older brother, Bruiser, wouldn't go near him but seemed quite agitated. Again, not anything too unusual since Bruiser doesn't like Rocki to be too far away, yet he won't join Rocki on the grass because it was a bit damp and Bruiser, being a bit of a primma donna, doesn't like to get his feet wet.

After a few minutes, I see the back of Rocki and he is still sitting quietly chewing. I figure he has dragged out the bone from yesterday evening. And then I see the bone in question...it's in the kitchen. So I go out on the patio and call to him. He sits up, turns around wagging his …

Raw Food Diets - Are They Healthy?

Proponents of the raw food diet basically say that dogs should be fed raw meat, vegetables and bones...basically what they would eat in the wild. In addition, they say that your dogs should never eat grains, rice or other carbohydrates. Why? Apparently, grains are one of the biggest sources of allergies in dogs and, because grains make up the majority of commercial dog food, our pets will be free of allergy-related symptoms once they start the raw food diet (and they won't have flatulence).

When can your dog eat chicken bones? Apparently on the raw food diet. I was taught to never give a dog chicken bones, but it seems you can if they're raw because raw bones are not dangerous - they are soft enough to bend easily and break well for the dog to digest.

Those in favor of the diet claim dogs are healthier, have more energy, require fewer trips to the vet, have fewer weight problems, produce much less stool and stool is firm and disintegrates easily. Apparently raw food also cleans…

Grooming the Shih-Tzu's eye area

The eye area, and the face in general, are the hardest parts of grooming simply because you need your dog to sit perfectly still in order to cut away in these delicate areas.

The most important tool? Sharp, snub-nosed scissors. I picked mine up at a holistic pet shop where the owners regularly show their dogs so they had a lot of expertise in grooming and actually cater to people who groom their dogs for show, so they had all the right supplies. However, many pet stores carry grooming equipment. The owners explained to me that the snub-nose is most important because if your pet does move, there is no pointed tip to harm them.

Now I have trained my boys to sit still by using voice commands...speaking gently to them and raising my voice slowly and adding firmness if they continue to squirm around. Now they will lay in my arms or sit quietly on the floor while I groom their face. This method of training requires an inordinate amount of patience (which, thankfully, I have). However, I know …

The Boys Go To Grandma's

I can't even say the word "Grandma" around my oldest because he goes goofy! Both boys love when she comes to visit and love it even more when we take the two of them over to her house. She has a huge fenced yard where they can run, dig (well, they try but I stop them!), sniff flowers, bark at the neighbor's dog (who gets into trouble because he barks back and he's been to "no barking" school), chase each other around the apple trees, play hide and seek under the big old spruce, eat leaves, play "get the stick" and generally cause mayhem.

But dogs are a lot like people. Sure, we take them for walks...usually the same old boring route. Make no mistake...they are just happy to be out with us in the fresh air, but they too need some variety. Taking them for a visit to a "dog friendly" home is a great outing for them. They can explore the yard or house, be around new people and generally they tend to be more well adjusted when they have ne…

Creating a "no pee" zone

Shih-Tzus are stubborn...there's no getting around that one. Even if you train them, there are times where they are going to defy you because they are mad and will pee wherever they feel like it, regardless if you are there watching them.

My oldest did that when I first brought Rocki home. He was in such a full-blown snit that he trotted over to the couch, lifted his leg, proceeded to pee on the couch and carpet, and then looked at me as if to say "so what are you going to do about it?". Then he marched away with his held high, sat in the opposite end of the room and turned his back to all of us. When I tried to get his attention, he's turn his head the other way and stick his little snout in the air.

Shih-Tzus can also be high strung. When Rocki gets really excited, he often has a slight accident. Just two or three drops, but enough to create a smelly mess. When the two of them were particularly frightened during a severe storm when we were hit with an extremely loud …

Do you want to be my dog?

A guy I know asked me today if he could apply to be one of my dogs because he thought they had a better life than a lot of people he knew.

I guess in a sense that's true. They are well loved, well groomed and, judging by their somewhat finicky taste, well fed.

But owning a Shih-tzu, or any pet for that matter, is a serious commitment. They are not toys to be played with when you feel like it; they are not little dolls that you dress up when the mood hits; they are not ornaments that you just look at. These are living, breathing creatures with feelings, wants, needs and individual personalities. They are relying on you to care for them because, in our world, they can't look after themselves.

Some people just don't think when they run out to get a dog. Can you afford all the things they need, including regular grooming and veterinary services? Do you have the time to take care of them and give them the attention they need? Do you have a fenced in yard to keep them safe? Do you …

Can a dog be mentally challenged?

I've wondered about whether a dog can be "slow" and have questioned vets on this matter. The simple answer is yes.

When Rocki was born, our breeder told us she had come just come into the room. She ran over to Rocki when she noticed the placenta was covering his face and he was unable to breath. She removed it and began giving the little guy mouth-to-mouth until he started to breathe.

Now we know in humans that babies who lose oxygen during the birthing process often have some form of disability (yes...I know...not politically correct!) but the amount of time spent without oxygen will determine the severity of the disability.

In our case, we don't know how long Rocki was without oxygen. What we do know is that he did not and does not pick up on things the way his brother does.

For example, if I caught our oldest peeing on the floor, I'd raise my voice, say "no" sternly, and he would put his head down and promptly shimmy to his kennel which was the "tim…

Who do you believe when it comes to your dog's health?

We all care about the health of our pets and, in particular, keeping them around as long as we can. After all, they are a part of our family. But when it comes down to what you feed them, who do you believe?

I've recently talked to many dog owners who tell me they are really cutting down on commercial dog food and dog treats because of the latest poisoning scare. In particular, what is really frightening, is that a handful of dog food manufacturers produce most of the brands. So if one bad supply comes in, it affects many different dog foods and dog treats.

People are also telling me that they are starting to feed their dogs more "people food" in an effort to protect them from the risk of tainted dog food.

On the other side of the coin, we have the vets. When little Rocki was in the hospital, the aides and the vets all said do not feed them any people food. In fact, when we mentioned our dogs loved lettuce, one told us that lettuce causes diahhrea. I've never seen eith…

Can I change my dogs' names?

When we first get our precious little pups, we have so many names we've chosen it's hard to pick just one. Finally, we do make a decision and our pup grows into a healthy dog with it's own distinct personality. And that's when we often find their puppy name just doesn't fit and we come up with all sorts of nicknames for them.

For example, our oldest is named Bruiser. Why? Well, he was the runt of the litter and typically had to fight for food, a place to sleep, a toy and just about anything. When all the other puppies were too frightened to venture into the backyard, our little guy took the lead and boldly went to inspect the concrete sidewalk. The other puppies followed hesitantly and, in the end, just dropped onto the concrete too scared to go any further. Our little Bruiser, though, dared to go where no other pup would go and ventured forth to the bedding plants where he found a wonderful place to dig.

Our youngest, Rocki, was named for the boxing movie (althoug…

Beware of veterinarian retailers

After bringing Rocki home from the pet hospital, we got a call from the vet saying they forgot to give us a couple of items that we had paid for. So, my husband drove back and picked them up. I wasn't surprised that there was a bottle of antibiotics. What did surprise me was there was a case of canned dog food.

When did they decide they had the right to arbitrarily charge me for this and then tell me after the fact?

I could see from the can that it was a wet food. Both of my dogs hate wet dog food and have refused to eat every brand I've tried on them. Thankfully, this turned out to be a blessing because of the recent contaminated dog food scare which was mainly in wet food. But, thinking that maybe there was a reason that they gave us this food, I opened it up to give to the dogs. Firstly, it looked like pre-chewed food. Not good. Then, I divided up the can and put it in their dishes. They wouldn't eat it. So, I left it for them in case they came back to it later. Of course…

The Temperamental Shitzu

We were pretty excited to bring Rocki home from the pet hospital as the house just didn't seem the same without him. We also hoped to bring some life back to his brother, who had been despondent since Rocki left. So, imagine our shock when we arrived and Rocki's brother was in a complete and total snit.

He was so mad he was salivating. He turned his back on Rocki, growled at him whenever Rocki approached and refused to be anywhere near him. I couldn't believe it!

When the vet called to tell us we had forgotten something at the hospital, we asked why Rocki's brother would be so mad at him. The vet speculated it was because Rocki smelled of other dogs. Hmmm...so perhaps our oldest, who has always been Rocki's inseparable companion, thought Rocki was "cheating" on him! If only he knew what that poor little guy had been going through.

As night turned into the next day, Rocki's brother finally started to come around a bit, but not much. I thought perhaps if I…

My puppy wins...the Parvo virus loses!

The little guy pictured on the right has beaten the Parvo virus!

Although dogs can be hospitalized for up to 10 days before they are well enough to return home, my little Rocki was released in just 2 days and boy, was he glad to come home! After a good night's sleep on his favorite lambskin rug, he has been seen running circles around the coffee table, doing flying leaps from couch to floor to chair, beating up his stuffed toy, and gobbling up every piece of food he can find.
Although he has 10 days worth of antibiotics that I must cleverly conceal in a dog treat, his recovery is heartwarming. I knew he was a healthy dog before getting the virus, but his determination to get back to normal and winning attitude has just blown me away.
So this story is one of hope: even though the Parvo virus is deadly, a healthy happy dog can recover from it's effects.

Beware of the Parvo virus

Thought Parvo couldn't happen to you? This blog is about Rocki, our little cinnamon and white Shitzu pictured in the bottom right of the photo. We rushed him to the animal hospital last night where he was diagnosed with Parvo, or Canine Parvovirus.

Parvo is a severe infection that causes intestinal damage. This leads to septicemia and severe dehydration that could be fatal. For some reason, certain breeds (Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher and English Springer Spaniel) have a much higher fatality rate that other breeds. It is a highly contagious virus that requires aggressive medical treatment immediately.

In our city, there is an epidemic outbreak of Parvo. Clinics are running out of supplies. I read about it in the paper but thought our little guys were very secure on their home turf. How wrong I was!

Because the main source of the virus is from the feces of infected dogs, I stopped walking my dogs in the area as poop is one of their passions: they love to sniff it and touch it. If it…

Shitzus going snakey...

There are some nights where I don't know what has gotten into the little guys but they go completely snakey. Nights like tonight where there is nothing happening outside but they are poised to leap...where no one is in another room but they are dying to get into that room to the point that they leap and jump at closed doors while they cry incessently...where if you are not with them they whine, bark and throw themselves at chairs and other objects that they don't normally go after.

It is a weirdness I see on rare occassions and quite frankly, on nights like tonight when I'm home alone, it's kind of creepy.

I'd like to blame the full moon but we don't have one tonight. Nor anything close to it. If I could point a finger at a party next door, firecrackers, a loud car, sirens or anything else I would. But our area is still and quiet as can be.

I've seen it a couple of times and with two of them I get double the fun... one is either emulating the other or they…

Summer time means...ticks!

The boys were on vacation in the country when we had to attend a wedding in California. However, when they came home, my little one had something on his fur next to his mouth. On closer inspection, it looked like blood. I was puzzled...he didn't appear to be hurt. I rubbed his fur...I saw what looked like a cherry pit caught in his fur. I tried pulling gently but it was stuck in. Of course, at this point, I'm wondering where the cherry pit came from. Then...it dawned on me...the "cherry pit" had legs. Oh no, I thought... don't tell me... it's a tick!!!

Sure enough it was. I am not familiar with ticks except the bits and pieces I've heard secondhand. I remembered someone once told me to burn it off with a lighter or match. Burn it? I couldn't...it was on my boy's face. How could I burn it and possibly hurt him?

Finally, after looking at where it was on his face, I decided to get their trimming scissors and try to trim the fur away from his face and,…

Dog fighting

The story is not about Shitzus today. I just finished reading the actual indictment against Michael Vick et all in the dog fighting charges and am trying not to be sick as I write this. According to the indictment, if the dogs didn’t do well in test fights, they were shot, electrocuted and, in one case, allegedly body smashed into the ground. There was also a rape stand found on the property that was used for aggressive female dogs.

You know, Michael Vick is a great football player. I don’t know him as a person, but he is very talented in the game. According to statements in various news reports, the gist of his position is he didn’t know what was happening on the property because he was rarely there and he allowed friends to use it.

Okay...I’m not going to say he’s telling the truth or lying. I don’t know who was involved. All I know is that dogs were bought, sold and bred solely to fight for people’s amusement and profit. How do you get a dog ready to fight? You abuse it. You don’t fe…

Dogs and storms

Thunderstorms, or any storms, can be a very traumatic time for your pet if you're not around.Storms are a part of life, but not for these little guys. We know what's happening...they don't.The most important thing to do is basically not do anything. When the lightning strikes...stay calm. When the thunder rages, don't move...act like it's an everyday activity.My oldest was used to them but the youngest peed everywhere whenever a storm hit. So when a storm came around and he looked to me for direction, I did nothing. I acted as if it didn't matter. After the first two times, he lifted his head to watch my reaction and, when there was none, went calmly went back to sleep. Pets mimic our behavior. If we freak out, they freak out. If we are calm, they are calm. After all, it's just another noice that they add to their repertoire of things to "worry about" and things that "don't matter".

Keeping your pets comfortable in the summer

Summer heat means being extra careful with your pets, especially flat faced little dogs like Shitzus. They tend to heat up very quickly and, because of their tiny flat noses, can have a very difficult time breathing. Although these little guys love to be outside, you need to have a cool environment available to them when they start to heat up, particularly on days with high humidity. Keep an eye on them and bring them into an air conditioned car or house immediately if you hear them wheezing or having trouble breathing...that is a danger sign of overheating. Also, keep an eye on how much they are panting. Regular panting is normal and is how they cool themselves. However, the panting should slow down or stop altogether when they have cooled themselves. If this is not happening, again, bring them into a cool environment. Also, make sure they always have a good supply of fresh, clean, cold water. I think it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) - NEVER EVER leave them in a car …

Those darn collies

Our home is located on an open area. Behind us is a tract of "no man's land" where people always take their dogs out for a run (or take themselves out for one!).It's amazing how our dogs react to others. When the two German Shepherds go by, they watch but they're quiet as mice. When the Rottweiler and his master come, they hide behind the barbeque and wait till they've passed. When their friend Jasmine, a 9 month old Golden Retriever goes for a walk, they're all friendly yips and tails wagging (even though Jasmine is 10 times their size). When the big lab Buddy from next door comes for a visit, there is a lot of tail wagging and nose-to-nose greetings. When the collies come by, look out!I don't know why they hate the collies, or should I say they each love to torment the other. When the collies come by, they wag their tails and happily yip as they go past. This drives our dogs to distraction. They can hear the collies coming from a mile away and are p…

What does your dog watch?

We often have the TV on and the dogs don't pay any attention whatsoever to it. The only time they reacted to it was when someone rang the doorbell on a pizza commercial and the two of them bolted to our front door and wound up completely confused when they discovered no one was there.

But the other day, our little one was absolutely mesmerized when a Garfield movie came on. He actually sat and watched it for over half an hour, running to the TV every so often and leaping up and wagging his tail whenever the dog was onscreen. Then he would race back to the couch, perch on the end, and continue watching the movie. The oldest one didn't give a rip if anything was on TV...he's quite content playing with their toys.

So, if you ever thought that your dogs weren't paying attention to the television, you may just be surprised one day.

Watching out for health problems

Many purebreds are prone to certain health conditions, and Shitzus are no exception. Here is a list of known problems to affect Shitzus:
- a blood vessel defect known as portosystemic shunt (dog appears dazed, bumps into things and snaps at you - these could be signs of this problem)- kidney displasia (drinking more than usual and urinating more than usual could be a sign of kidney problem)- a respiratory disorder known as brachycephalic airway syndrome (snorting and snoring are minor symptoms; however, overheating, overexercise or stress can leave your dog struggling for breath. Immediately move your dog to an air conditioned area, wet him down and talk calmly and stroke him until it passes)- hypothyriodism (symptoms can include lethargy, weight gain, hair loss and skin infections)- cataracts (cause a progressive decrease in your dog's vision)- corneal ulcers (symptoms can include squinting, rubbing the eye and sticky discharge coming from the eye. Can be caused by not using tearl…

Make no bones about "bones'

I think Shitzus come out of the whom hunting for bones.

This afternoon, my youngest (8 months...yes, the innocent looking one in the front of the picture) found a bone buried last fall in the yard. He was ecstatic and kept his prize close to his mouth. The oldest, who buried it, stared at his brother and cried for over an hour until I finally got him a fresh steak bone to chew on.

Fresh steak bone or decayed buried bone? The oldest grabbed the fresh one in his mouth, stared at the decomposed bone that his brother had, and the two did the most cautious switch-aroo I've ever witnessed.

The youngest, of course, was happy as a clam. And a wily one he is! The older one, who discovered his bone was not fresh at all, started grunting all over again. I had to cut him the last fresh bone.

They were happy for about an hour. After that...the bones were gone. Then the fight began over the putrid, left-over one from last autumn. I promptly made sure that it got tossed in the garbage and both boys …

A new meaning for the term "sick pups"

Today we made our boys a plate for supper. We cut sirloin tip roast, warmed it up, and lined the plate with lettuce leaves. They trotted toward their dinner plate, sniffed a bit...then they each grabbed a piece of lettuce and ran and hid so they could feast on it and yet protect their precious cargo from the other one. I watched this with my jaw hanging down. They repeated this process until they devoured each and every piece of lettuce on the plate. So much for the meat-eating theories!

Keeping your dog's eye area groomed

Although I highly recommend regular trims by a professional groomer, there are those times in between grooms when your pets need some attention, particularly with the small hairs that grow into their eyes from just above the nose.To solve this problem, I went out to a pet store and bought a small pair of professional grooming scissors with a blunt nose that is designed specifically for this area. All it takes is a little snip every week and those pesky hairs will not be in your dog's eyes.Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. Getting one of these innocent looking creatures to sit perfectly still while you attempt this is quite a challenge. However, if you are patient and persistent, you can do it.My oldest dog didn't take much training as he was familiar with his groomer doing this. He was a bit shaky at first and moved a bit, but a few well-times "no's" in a firm voice kept him quite still.The little one was not so easy. When he saw the scissors coming to…

Brushing your dog

Shih-Tsu's need a lot of brushing. Whether you have the classic look which is the long hair to the floor with a top knot or ponytail tied at the head, or you have your pets trimmed short like I do, you still need to keep on top of it.

Most people automatically think that the longer the hair, the more brushing the dog requires. But even with the short hair, you need to brush it often.

The longer hair in some respects may be a bit easier to maintain because the weight of the fur will keep it from getting too messy. With the shorter cut, I find the dogs can look messy if I don't brush them each day as the hair is more fly-away. However, one of the most important reasons for constant brushing is to prevent matting. Any of us who have tried to get through a serious mat in our dog's fur knows that we swear to be more diligent at brushing to prevent this from ever happening again. However, mats do happen for different reasons depending on the dog's behavior. With mine, behind th…

The Shitzu's favorite thing...

is, without a doubt, chewing.
These little darlings can chew for hours. Whether it's a steak bone or a rawhide chew, they will be amused for a good long time. I always make sure I have toys they can chew as well as "pig ears" and other items that are made for dogs. It's good for their teeth and, most importantly, it saves your furniture! Do not think these cute little dolls are beyond eying up and going after your cabinet edges, tables, shoes, purses, area rugs (a favorite "toy"- they love working the wool pieces out of the matting) and couches. If they don't have plenty of toys and dog chews, look out...your things are on the hit list.
So for the sake of your sanity and the health of your pets (since I seriously doubt that wood stain has any health benefits), please make sure you are well stocked with things the Shitzu loves to chew.

Should you breed your dog?

Because I have two male dogs, I have been approached on more than one occasion by somone inquiring if I would be willing to breed them.

My oldest one is small for a Shitzu...he was the runt of the litter...and the smaller size is desired by some people. I also found out (to my surprise) that when my young is old enough, he will be desirable because he has the cinnamon coloring which is not common.

At first I used to joke about setting up a brothel for my boys and listing a secondary income on my tax return as a "dog pimp". Of course, thinking of what I could do with the extra cash every time they bred put a smile on my face.

However, reality set in after talking to some people I know who volunteer at pet shelters. With so many homeless animals waiting to be adopted, the question became should I even consider being responsible for bringing more dogs into the world?

Of course, everyone wants the puppies. They're cute, kids love them and they provide hours of amusement. Howe…

Food that are safe for dogs

The previous post I listed all the foods that are dangerous for your dog. And that list is really important because it contains a lot of items that I never would have dreamed of could harm my little boys (pictured to the left).

This list, however, are everyday items that we eat which are safe for your dog: lean meat and fish (cooked)
raw or cooked vegetables and fruits not on the "danger" list
cooked rice and other cooked grains
plain, low-fat yogurt
small amounts of bread (you don't want them becoming overweight with carbs)
I think dogs are alot like us - they like variety in their meals.
My little shitzus go absolutely crazy for fresh lettuce (their favorite is romaine with a bit of the white crunchy stem) and cabbage. They also love baby carrots, celery and cucumber. They'll eat this before they touch their dog treats so I often now reward them with lettuce and carrots. Don't you wish you kids were this easy to please?

Dangerous Food for Dogs

There are some foods that we eat every day and don't give a second thought to. These foods, however, can harm your dog. Here is a list:

Chocolate - dangerous because it contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to dogs. However, carob, white chocolate and cocoa butter contain little or none of these toxins. Unsweetened chocolate is the most dangerous. One ounce for a 20 lb dog is dangerous.
Macadamia nuts - one ounce of nuts for a 20 lb dog can be toxic.
tomatoes and tomato plants - the plants contain atropine which can cause heart arrythmias and tremors. The highest levels of atropine are in the leaves and stems of the tomato plant, followed by unripe green tomatoes and then red tomatoes.
onions and garlic - one tablespoon of onion or one teaspoon of garlic per 10 lb dog can destroy red blood cells.
grapes and raisins - 4 ounces ingested by a 20 lb dog will cause kidney failure
any food that has mould on it or is spoiled (even slightly)
raw meat and raw bones (this one …

Bad food and good food

By now we've all read about the dog food recall because our loving little friends were dying. In case you've been living a cave and missed it, here's the complete list of all the dog food recalled
--> http://www.menufoods.com/recall/product_dog.html.

Again, I stand by my decision to feed my dogs real meat, vegatables and a bit of rice. They are healthy, vibrant and alert. The dog food recall only brings to light the fact that there are no standards when it comes to dog food. Perhaps they recalled this batch. What about the next time? What company will it be? How many people's pets will have to die before someone somewhere decides that there should be quality standards for pet food?

Frankly, I'm not taking that chance with mine. They will continue to get real food...the dreaded "people" food...until I am convinced that the manufactured dog food contains the nutrients and quality standards that my pets deserve.

Vacationing without your pets

We just returned from a 10 day trip down south. Unfortunately, we couldn't take our dogs with us.

Leaving your pet for an extended period of time is heartwrenching for you but is also stressful for your pet. You can't explain to them that you're coming back...you can't tell them what's happening. All they know is that you've left and their world has fallen apart. That is one of the reasons we chose to get two dogs. If we left, our boys had each other for company. And it worked out well.

I used to have a Lhasa Apso and we took it to the breeder to stay for 2 weeks while we went on vacation. That poor dog was depressed for the entire two weeks and didn't eat for the first week. The breeder told us she sat at the front door for the week and wouldn't budge. It broke my heart to hear it and I didn't take a trip after that until she passed away.

We were lucky in that we were able to leave our current pets at their mother's place so we knew they would be …

Shitzus and toys

My dogs love their toys. They can't seem to have enough of them. When they find a favorite, typically one that squeaks, they guard it, carry it around with them everywhere (even to the bathroom), and sleep with it. If you try and take it away just to wash it, look out because they will tear the place apart looking for it and cry when they can't find it.

Toys are good for them as well for chewing. As we all know, Shitzus love to chew. Chewing to them is like television or computer games to us. They can chew for an inordinate length of time. If they don't have a toy or some other thing to chew on, your furniture and cabinets will suffice. Usually, this is not something you want to come home to, so make sure your dogs have plenty of toys and other things to satisfy their insatiable desire to chew.

Finding the right groomer

Once I took the oldest dog to a well-known pet store that offered grooming services. He shook the whole time he was there and cried when we left. It broke our hearts but the place came highly recommended and he needed to be groomed.

When we got him back at the appointed time, which was six hours later, he looked great. Well groomed, relatively calm...but he was sure happy to see us.

I didn't know how we were going to do it the next time. I guess part of me does trust these companies to some extent, but then again how do you know how your pet is really being treated?

Enter the mobile grooming service. I had researched the concept and decided to try one. Well, the woman arrived with her own table, a cover for the floor and all the tools she needed to properly groom a Shitsu. She doesn't bathe them, but because I started bathing them regularly when they were young, they don't give me any problems so that really wasn't an issue.

Our dog was a bit nervous at first, but because …

Dog food or "people" food?

The great debate continues. It doesn't matter who you talk to, everyone has a very strong opinion as to what constitutes "healthy" food for dogs.

My doctor told me she feeds her Maltese nothing but people food because in her studies on the subject, she found that dogs that ate nothing but dog food were prone to diabetes because of the high level of carbohydrates in dog food.

My friend had a dog growing up that got nothing but rice and fresh cooked ground beef and whatever else he managed to scrounge up on their family farm. Their dog was healthy until he passed away at the age of 18.

I think people food is fine, as long as you know what is toxic (onions, chocolate, etc.), what is unhealthy and what they can eat. You have to believe that these little creatures want variety just like we do.

I've done a lot of research on the topic. Right now, my dogs have dog food that they snack on. Each day they get some meat - liver, ground beef or steak. Sometimes a bit of chicken or …