Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2008

What happened to the kitchen?

It's day whatever of what started off as a five day tiling renovation and work has just begun again after a nine-day hiatus that included the tiler getting snowed in at an airport after a weekend trip and Christmas. That meant over the Xmas holidays, we had no fridge and no stove. We had bare concrete on the floor. Christmas tree? Nope...didn't even put it up because our front rooms were so full of furniture and appliances we had no room for a tree. So Christmas came and went for us just like another day.

The dogs are trying to manage but they have had to adjust to the changes. No longer do they run the "racetrack" through the kitchen and family room. One day when they came bounding out of the dining room, you could hear the screech as they put on the brakes when they hit the concrete in the kitchen. So, no more racetrack. Chasing toys through the house? Can't do it because there are too many obstacles in their way. The water dish? First it's by the front door…

Day 4 of the reno and one room is ready!

Yesterday our tile guys grouted the family room and told us we could walk on the floor today and, if we wanted, start moving our furniture in.

We were ecstatic to finally be able to check out some of the changes. Bruiser, however, beat us to it and tore into "his space" to see what the heck had happened to his carpet. As you can see, the first test was the "face rub" and something was definitely different. Rocki was having a nap. His usual attitude toward change is "whatever" so actually rising from his cozy little bed was just far too much effort. Bruiser, on the other hand, is known around here as "the little inspector" because he needs to know what is going on everywhere at all times. His room was no different - he had to inspect every square inch before we could coerce him out.

Tomorrow? Tiling begins in the kitchen and eating area. The "fun" continues...

Surviving the Reno

Rocki and Bruiser do their best to live through the renovation, but for my husband and I it's a bit harder to adjust. Not only are we living with the furniture from the family room and kitchen, but we have to manoeuver around the fridge and stove. And all of this is in the dining room along with the dining room furniture.

Throughout the tiling process, with saws and tile cutters going throughout the day, the boys have stayed pretty close and follow me like a shadow wherever I go. They eat less, drink less and sleep more. They don't chase each other, don't play with their toys and have even lost interest in their chewies. Sleeping seems to be their only source of comfort during this tumultuous time.

Day 2 of the Reno

My poor boys are not allowed anywhere near "their area" because it's now covered with mesh and a layer of cement that has to dry. We all cannot go near this area and continue to spend our time squeezed into the living room along with an empty fridge and stove, the kitchen table and family room furniture.

However, we have found a sunny little area where I've placed the dogs' bedding. Bruiser has adjusted to quite well to his new surroundings. Rocki is Rocki - he plops himself down wherever he happens to be when he gets tired. If it's on the bed, that's fine. If it's on my husband's track shoe, that's fine too.

I've had to put on their harnesses and leashes to take them out to the front to do their business, so last night at 4:00 a.m. they got me up. They were grunting incessantly which usually means "I have to go outside...NOW". I've been sleeping in my sweats so I can jump up and take them out quickly, so I leashed them up, pu…

Day 1 of the Reno

This morning, all the furniture was removed and the carpet was rolled up. As you can see, the boys saw this as a new opportunity for romping, jumping and chasing each other on their new "toy".
Always curious, they had to inspect every inch of the carpet and underlay and then decided that it was a great area to chase each other. Needless to say we had a hard time getting the carpet out of the room without the dogs.
Life got a bit more confusing when they realized all their stuff was moved into the living room. And, to top it all off, two big guys started loading box after box of tile and the mountain got bigger with numerous bags of cement. Ever the daredevil, Bruiser managed to leap onto 3. 5 feet of tile and jump off the other end to see what's going on in his room. We had no choice but to build up the mountain and now, at close to 5.5 feet, I think we're pretty safe in assuming he's not going to jump it. However, the night is not over...
Tonight, the boys are rest…

Life Becomes Topsy-Turvy for the Boys

Although they don't know what's going on exactly, the boys know that something is up. First, some furniture disappeared from "their area". Next went some baseboards. Tomorrow will bring more changes as the rest of the furniture moves and the carpet gets ripped out. And then the boys will find out what is really happening - we are getting new flooring.
Finally, the worn out smelly, stained carpet will be gone and replaced with porcelain tile. And although I have been looking forward to this day for quite some time, I am also dreading the thought that for five days, we will be unable to use the family room and the kitchen. And, because the patio and fenced area for the boys is off the kitchen, I will have to put on their harnesses and leashes and take them out the front door to do their business. Did I mention it's around -40C outside??? And did I also mention that Rocki likes to go out for 3 seconds about 15 times a day? I am not looking forward to this. Their bedd…

What is that white stuff?

Two days ago the boys and I went for a run on the grassy area behind the house. I was in a t-shirt, the sun was shining and there was hardly a breeze.

Yesterday, we got hit with a winter storm and this was what we woke up to this morning. Although it looks pretty, it's ass-biting cold. Although the dogs do go out, they do their business real quick and run back in. Quite frankly, none of us were prepared for this nor are we ready for it. As you can see, the plants on the patio were still green and the geraniums were still blooming. They didn't know what was coming either.

Rocki the "healer"

Our little guy instinctively wants to heal others.

When his brother had an ear infection, I noticed it because Rocki made me aware of it. At first he kept licking his brother's ear. Whenever Bruiser went to scratch his ear, Rocki would jump on me and get my attention. Then he would run back to his brother and stare at me as if to say "do something!". If I didn't respond, he'd go through the process again - jump on me, then run back to his brother. After Bruiser was treated for the infection, Rocki would check his ear every day at intervals to make sure that the ear was in fact okay. He'd sniff, and then walk away. I learned to rely on Rocki's instincts when determining if the medication was actually working on his brother.

Last week I caught a very bad cold. As I was laying on the couch, Rocki jumped on me and began sniffing until he pinpointed the source of the problem - my nose. He tried to lick it to take the infection away. I stopped him from doing this…

Making Your Own Dog Food

I bought a book that had a number of healthy recipes for dogs that you make yourself. So I decided to put on my baker's hat one day and make the dog biscuits they recommended. 
After baking a huge batch, I proudly presented my handiwork to the boys. The dogs came, sniffed the biscuits and walked away. They never actually ate them, although they were full of healthy products and no chemicals. I tried one and quite frankly, I wouldn't want to eat it either. In the end, all 50+ biscuits went to the trash.
However, having said that, I realize where I went wrong with the recipe and am determined to try it again. I just need a better recipe.
So for anyone who wants to try making food for their dog on their own, I did find a web link that offers free dog food recipes. Some of them look good enough for me to eat and the biscuits actually look like they may have some taste, so I think I'll try a couple of them and see if the boys like it.

Bunny returns

The open space beyond our fence is a favorite walking path for dog owners and wild creatures alike. So, the boys regularly patrol the yard, marking the outer edges to let all who pass know who's territory it is. 

The boys are quite comfortable with the parade of Canada geese and selected dogs which pass by their property. They've given a "free pass" to these ones and simple watch as they go by. Unknown dogs get a bit of a bark but nothing much. Bruiser absolutely despises the collies that walk past and lets them know it with barks, grunts and frantic marking.  Rocki comes along for moral support on each of these outings, but doesn't make a sound. He'll mark for good measure, but isn't really sure why.

But nothing gets the dogs on guard more than when bunny comes back to town. Bunny is not afraid of them...he sits on the grass outside the fence and watches them. Bruiser will growl and mark and run around, and bunny just sits and stares, his little nose twitc…

The Loyal Shih-Tzu

My little Rocki (aka Munchkin) is just over 2 years old and still follows me around like a shadow.

If I'm in the basement, he's at the top of the stairs with his tiny face peering down. If I'm on the couch, he's on the floor next to my foot. If I'm sitting on the floor, he's curled himself around my legs. If I'm having a shower, he's patiently waiting outside the door until I come out. If I'm upstairs working, he's at the bottom or the top of the staircase waiting with the patience of a saint.

Bruiser is a bit more independent but still exhibits the same traits. He's always around, but he's a little further back.

Shih-Tzus are loyal - they are always there keeping you in sight. They may not be right next to you, but be assured as you're going about your day, they're in the room or just outside the room watching and waiting for you.

Strange Habits

The other day I was watching television and my oldest was going nuts. He kept going to the footstool, grunting, and coming back to me. Back and forth...back and forth. This went on for about five minutes. He usually does this if one of his toys is missing, but the stool is so low that there couldn't possibly be a toy underneath.

I figured he was just having an episode and tried to ignore it, but he got louder and more insistent. It was obvious I could not watch television in peace until I discovered what was going on.

So I went over to the footstool, moved it and sure enough - there was one tiny kibble of dog food under the stool. Bruiser promptly grabbed it, ate it in a split second, and went along his merry way. I might mention that the boys had a pile of dog food sitting in their dish. But Bruiser absolutely had to have that one piece that was under the stool.

And that's the Shih-Tzu. When something is theirs, they want it and they want it when they want it, and you will have …

Breeding for Money

I found some information this morning while having coffee and surfing the web. It's videos and reports on puppy mills. Hard to watch but I think necessary to inform people just how awful the conditions are in puppy mills. The articles and videos were compiled by a reporter and photographer who went undercover.

"It's the stench first. Then you recognize that buzzing sound. It's flies swarming around the dirty cages where the puppies live, around the green scum that floats in their water bowls." more...

What kind of flooring is best for small dogs?

I need to replace the carpet in the family room that adjoins the kitchen. So with two little boys who spend the majority of their time in the family room, one who is very obedient and one who pees sporadically in the house, what do you choose?

I was recently at a family wedding and a friend of the family owns a flooring store. I asked him this question. His immediate response was "vinyl". So in the picture, I have vinyl flooring that looks like hardwood which I put in our basement. It looks great and cleans easily, but what happens if I decide to put real hardwood in my living room and dining room which lead into the kitchen and family room? Will it look stupid? I go back to my research...

I asked the breeder of our dogs because she has dark hardwood throughout her home, including the kitchen. She said she loved her hardwoods and would never have anything else. She has one Shih-Tzu who had two litters of five puppies and she regularly dog-sits for our little guys and others wh…

Sensitive Shih-Tzus

Life became a bit topsy-turvey for the boys when grandma recently moved into our home.

We got a call last week after she had fallen on her outside steps. It turned out she had a concussion, smashed up her knee and broke her shoulder. Because the hospital wouldn't release her unless she had somewhere to go where she had 24 hour care, we decided she would move in with us since we have no other family in the city. And we were not going to leave her alone in a hospital. We also had to put her house up for sale as she could not go back and live on her own again given her age, the size of the house and the enormous number of stairs she had to tackle each day.

During this process the boys have been extremely sensitive to her needs when they are around her. She spends most of her days in a chaise in the family room watching TV, doing puzzles and talking on the phone to her friends. However, from the day we brought her home the dogs sensed that something was wrong - Grandma wasn't bendin…

Just another word about ticks...

A couple of things I forgot to mention in the last post.

There are two schools of thought on removing the tick. There is the medical way that doctors promote and the "old-fashioned" ways that have been passed down to us for generations from the country folk because there was no doctor around.

Some of the old-fashioned ways include burning the tick with a matchhead (not recommended with your furry animal!!) or coating the tick with paint, nail polish or gasoline. Again, not recommended! The idea behind petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) is that it's commonly found in most homes, it's completely harmless and, when applied to the tick, it suffocates it.

The old way includes soaping your fingers with a regular bar of soap (and I really don't know why we are supposed to do it...this is what I was taught by others), grabbing the tick and slowly pulling it away.

The medical way advises using a pair of tweezers. Apparently they want you to twist the tick onto its back so it doe…

Treating Ticks

When dogs spend more time outside, they are susceptible to a greater number of problems. And one of the biggest problems facing dogs are ticks.

These ugly, blood-sucking leeches grab hold of your dog and are difficult to get rid of. The most insidious aspect of the tick is even when you think you've removed it, often you haven't because the head is still embedded in your dog's skin. As long as the head is still attached and sucking blood, this loathsome insect will actually grow another body.

So how do you get rid of them?

Well, our Bruiser had a tick on his back earlier this summer. My husband felt something when he was patting him and, after parting the fur, found the tick. He soaped his fingers and slowly started withdrawing the tick from Bruiser's body. Once he had it, he threw it in an ashtray and burned it and thought that was that.

A couple of days later, a lump began developing where my husband removed the tick. The day after we noticed it, the lump was even bigger…

The boys go to the beach

We have a cozy little cottage at the beach where we like to escape whenever city life starts to take it's toll. And like us, the boys love going to the beach to experience the great outdoors.

The only downside to the beach is the traffic on the roads so we have to keep them chained up for their own protection. However, we bought sturdy metal pegs that screw into the ground and come with long cables that attach to the peg and the dog's harness, so they do have a lot of room to maneouver in the yard.

The boys love going for long walks in the morning and generally wake us at about 6:15 a.m. to be let out and to go for a walk. The only downside to this routine is, if you've had a couple of drinks the night before, you really don't want to be getting out of bed at 6:15. However, that is the responsibility we undertook when we decided to get two dogs, so one or both of us hauls our butt out of bed and takes the boys for their walk. But you know, once you get out there in the c…

Sleepy Time for Shih-Tzus

I don't know about other Shih-Tzus, but when it's time to rest, my boys have some peculiar habits.

One thing I have noticed is their little eyes will start closing and their head will begin to droop even while they're sitting up. That's when you know they're really tired.

Other than that they each have a ritual before bed. Bruiser will lie on the floor with his back legs out under the kitchen table. That's phase one of sleepy time. After dozing for a while, he'll move into the family room on his cushions, usually with the "toy du jour".

Rocki, on the other hand, will start off by the garage door around the corner. After catching a couple of zzz's, he moved into the kitchen flush against the wall. He naps for a bit, and then moves over to his favorite cushion seen in the picture. His favorite position for sleep is on his back with his paws in the air and his body touching the wall. Bruiser, on the other hand, likes to curl into a little ball and…

Shih-Tzus and Thunderstorms

Last night at about 3:00 a.m. I was rudely awakened by a huge crack of thunder that rocked the house. Knowing that my boys are fearful of loud noises, I crawled out of bed and made my way downstairs. I found the two of them huddled down a hallway in a corner by the garage door, which is far from their sleep area. However, it is the one place that is not near a window. I walked over to the couch and they clung to me like shadows. I laid on the couch and both jockeyed for the closest position - Rocki ended up with his head on my head and Bruiser was left to cuddle against my chest under the blanket. Bruiser was shaking like a leaf and no amount of talking to him or stroking him would stop him from shaking as long as the thunder kept roaring. Now my point in coming around them every time there is a thunderstorm is to show no be completely calm...and each time I hope that they learn that they are safe and there is nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately, last night's lesson was …

The Importance of a Good Bed

Dogs are very much like us...they want a comfortable place to rest their heads. This is their's their's that one place they go to rest where they are comfortable and feel secure.
Whether you choose to buy a dog bed or make up one on your own, like we've done, make sure that your dogs understand that it's theirs.
As you can see from the picture, I bought some faux fur sheepskin rugs from Ikea, bought a body pillow (top back) from Costco for $12, and then the black mat is from a pet store. It has soft fake fur on the top and a rubber backing on the bottom and stays cool. In the winter they sleep on the black the summer they like to flip it around and sleep on the rubber portion. In any event, you can find the boys sprawled in many different ways in their sleeping "quarters". Sometimes they lie on their backs like humans with their bodies buried in the faux fur and their heads resting on the body cushion. Other times, they co…

The boys get a haircut

As the hot weather fast approaches, we felt it was time to beat the heat and get the dogs in to their groomer for an overall makeover.

For $70 ($35 each), they got the "puppy cut" as our groomer calls it. The fur is clipped short, the hair is plucked from the ears and their nails are trimmed. The ears are leveled off and the "beard" (that my husband hates so much!) is shorn.

And here is the result. The boys posed in one of their favorite spots - the chair next to me when I'm working on the laptop.
One thing I can say...since they got their hair cut, they have been full of spunk and energy. I think the weight of the fur as well as the heat it creates made them somewhat lethargic. Since their cuts they have not stopped running, whether it be for the sheer joy of it or to chase each other around in order to claim ownership of the toy or chewie "du jour". I used to think Rocki (on the far right) was a bit overweight. It was just his hair...he's skinny as…

The boys go to the country

We took a little road trip this weekend to the country to visit the family and attend my niece's wedding social. Of course, we took the boys.

They had a blast. For one thing, they could run free without a leash. Secondly, my mother-in-law has over two acres of property, and that's not counting the garden. And they ran their little hearts out!

Coming home, they slept most of the way. They were covered in dry mud, fresh cut grass, leaves and twigs. Did they care? Nope...they had the time of their lives. I caught this photo of them on the drive home in between naps.

Should you dress up your dog?

There are so many cute little dresses, suits, hats, tops, pants, boots, coats and other accessories for dogs. We dress them up like little dolls and parade them down the street. But what are your dogs thinking?

I was watching the news last night and they ran a story about the psychological effects of dressing up your dog. And it wasn't good. And I tried hunting down a link for it on the newscaster's web site but couldn't find any reference to the story anymore (unless I purchase yesterday's tape of the news).

But it seems that it's decidedly unhealthy for your pet to be dressed up and taken in public. I can understand that it's probably harder to run around freely in a little outfit as opposed to romping about "au naturel". But apparently it is also psychologically damaging to the dog. It seems they don't play with the same kind of abandon when they're dressed up, have less spunk and actually shy away from other dogs.

We have never dressed up our…

No more visits to Grandma's back yard

Every time we visit Grandma, we always take the boys so they can romp in her large, fenced yard. This was one thing they really loved and looked forward to in the summer. However, this year, all that changed.

Grandma's house shares a fence with four neighbors. Three of those people have dogs. Two of them own very large dogs. Our little guys like to bark at the other dogs and have no concept of the size issue...they think they're just as big as the other guy!

This year, we noticed the boards were starting to rot. In one case, two of them actually fell down because one of the large dogs jumped against it and knocked it right out. This happened while my boys were in the yard. I had to scoop them up pretty quickly and get them into the sunroom.

Unfortunately, Grandma does not like to part with money. She says incredulously "But the fence was new when we moved in!". What she is not understanding is that, after 23 years, it's time for a new fence. She also believes that h…

The day that Squeaky lost his squeak

Bruiser loves his toys. There is actually a hierarchy of importance as far as the toys go. For the last while, purple Squeaky has been the "toy du jour" and Bruiser takes it everywhere with him. Rocki likes Squeaky when he feels compelled to tease his brother. Otherwise he couldn't give a rip about it.

So imagine the horror when Grandma, who is staying with us while she recovers from surgery, accidentally stepped on Squeaky and he lost his squeak.

Bruiser was beside himself. After giving Grandma the stink eye, he ran over to his precious little pet and tried to squeak it. Nothing. Grandma got "the look" another time and Bruiser tried to revive Squeaky. No deal. Squeaky squeaked no more.

Bruiser then decided to appeal to the "fixer of all things"...that would be me. He brought Squeaky to me and started to grunt. I picked up the toy and took it over to the counter where the light was better. Bruiser did not leave my side. After fiddling around with it, I r…

A quick note on antibiotics....

I was a bit hesitant in giving antibiotics to my oldest when he had the ear infection because I know from my own experience how antibiotics can affect the body and possibly lead to other problems which, of course, would entail another visit to the vet and more medication to counteract the first one.

What had concerned me most is during the time he was taking the medication he didn't have the same spunk. He also didn't eat very much and seemed to sleep a lot. I also did some reading and, not unlike humans, I discovered that yogurt will help bring back the "good" bacteria that the antibiotics kill (along with the "bad" bacteria). So, after Bruiser was finally done taking the antibiotics, I'd give him a little bit of my yogurt when I had it in the morning. From the bottom of the cup, I'd dig out a bit on my spoon and hand it to him and he'd lick it off. Rocki, of course, was there as well. Can't give to one without giving to the other! Rocki d…

Shih-Tzu hairstyles

I, for one, am fascinated by the hairstyles given to Shih-Tzus. In particular the "top knot" seems to be the thing to do with this breed.

Although my boys have short hair, I've found some links for those who are a bit more adventurous and want to give their dog a bit more panache.

1. Shih-Tzu top knots - illustrations of how to tie the top knot, show knot and puppy knot.
2. A casual Shih-Tzu top knot and the illustrated guide to the Show knot (curling iron required. Really!)
3. One of the most fabulous pics I've seen of a Shih-Tzu. I have no idea how they got the dog to look so perfect, but I suspect it took quite a few hours and hairspray was involved.

Ear infections

Dogs with long, floppy ears are prone to ear infections, and Shih-Tzus are certainly not immune. My oldest just got treated for one.

At first, I didn't even realize he had an infection. When I was growing up, we had a Lhasa Apso and whenever she got the infection, there was a distinct odor that came from her ear so we knew it was time to go to the vet. However, when I checked my oldest, there was no odor so I let it go longer than I should have because I thought that it was just overly itchy and perhaps a bit irritated because of this scratching. I realized something was wrong after my husband told me he got up in the middle of the night and found our oldest scratching his ear and crying. That was enough to convince me something wasn't right. I immediately made an appointment with the vet and, lo and behold, he had an ear infection.

So what are the signs? Assuming there is no odor (which is a dead giveaway), this is what you need to watch for:
1. repeated scratching of the affec…

It all comes down cream

The boys know when they get their "special" treat...vanilla ice cream.

They stand at attention...there is no movement...when that container carrying the luscious commodity known as "ice cream" comes from the freezer. (and just as an aside to all you decorators...isn't my floor hideous, but I digress...)

There is absolutely nothing the boys won't do for their special treat. Even sitting still is not a problem!

Of course, a precaution - nothing with chocolate because that is toxic. And, although sugar is not good for their teeth, they do deserve a sweet treat once in a while, and vanilla ice cream is their favorite. I usually buy Breyers All Natural. And I'll tell're dishwasher couldn't clean a bowl like two Shih-Tzus with ice cream in a bowl!

When your dog becomes aggressive

When your sweet little boy starts behaving like a mean old junkyard dog, it's time to consider neutering.

Aggression could result from a number of different things such as a new dog (or cat or other pet) entering the home (as a resident or visitor) or tresspassing within the broader boundaries of your dog's "territory", another person moving in, a complete change of residence or a bad experience that perhaps you are unaware of. Although dogs do have a natural instinct to protect their loved ones and their territory which neutering will not affect, aggression in a male dog that appears out of the blue when no real changes have occurred and no "threats" can be discerned may indicate it's time to look into having him neutered.

Neutering will make your male dog less aggressive, reduce their tendency to roam, make them less prone to marking the territory, and reduce their tendency to mount other dogs (and in our case, their big cushions!). Neutering will also…

The Shih-Tzu Temper Tantrum

While we were away in California for two and a half weeks, my mother-in-law and my nephew were dog sitting. We thought it was the least stressful method of leaving the boys while we went on vacation. How wrong we were!

For the first two days, we were told they didn't budge from the door we left from, they cried and refused to eat or drink. On the third day they did start to take some water and a bit of food. By the end of the week they appeared to be "back to normal". Not...

During the second week they became the dogs from hell. They peed everywhere they could and pooped on the carpet. They never do this when we're at home, but they were angry that we were not around and all rules went out the door. They tore up their toys, bedding and blankets. They ripped up my plants, books and anything else they could access. As soon as my mother-in-law cleaned up their mess, they would mess again.

We came home at 3:00 in the morning and the last thing I wanted to do was clean, but…

Should you take your dogs on vacation?

As I sat outside enjoying yet another beautiful San Diego sunrise, I can't help but think about the little boys. Wouldn't they have loved a break from the harsh, cold winter?

We stay with our brother and sister-in-law who have a gated compound. I think of how the dogs would run their hearts out on the lush, green grass. How little Rocki, who we suspect is part pig, would be in his glory digging in the tropical foliage. How Bruiser, our little sun worshipper, would park himself by the pool and sun himself to his heart's content.

We have often toyed with bringing them but I have many reservations about putting them in a cage on a plane. My misgivings were given more weight when I saw a woman in the Minneapolis airport with her little white Maltese. The poor thing was so scared it shook as she dragged it on it's leash past the hordes of people in the security lineup. I read of a dog dying on one of the airlines and now they don't allow pets anymore. However, if we drov…

The hardest part of a vacation? Leaving.

Last Friday morning we said goodbye to our boys and headed off to the airport. It was one of the hardest things we ever did.

My oldest already suspected we were going away when the suitcases came out. He cautiously circled them, sniffed at them, and then flopped to the floor with a big sigh. He knew...the last time the suitcases were out he and his brother lived with our cousin who owned their mother.

For two days before we left, he would not allow me to pat him nor would he come and cuddle with me. He would come to where I was, sit exactly a foot away with his back to me, and sigh. His brother knew something was up but hadn't quite figured it out. But, of course, in true brotherly style, Rocki would provide moral support by sighing as well, although he wasn't quite sure why he was doing it.

On the morning we left, Bruiser was very upset. He would run in front of us, drop to the floor and sigh. No matter where we went, he was one step ahead of us. It broke my heart but we had rec…

Moody boys

Shih-Tzus, like people, can get moody. Usually our dogs are moody when they're left alone without human contact for too long. However, as I also discovered, they get very moody if they don't get enough sun.

In the winter I can't let them out. However, our front window has an eastern exposure and it's bright and sunny in the morning. So it doesn't matter how cold it is outside, we have a little indoor paradise.

The dogs love to find a ray of sunshine, stretch out and sun themselves.

How to keep your dog active in the winter

In the bitter cold of winter, these little guys absolutely cannot stay out for more than a minute or two. And dogs are like us...they eat more in the winter to build the fat they need to keep warm. So how do we keep them from getting overweight?

Although my dogs love to wrestle and chase each other, it's not sustained long enough for them to get a good workout. So I devised a little game where I grab some of their toys, throw them and make them chase the toys throughout the house. I toss it up the stairs, into a different room and across the basement floor. Our oldest loves his toys. God forbid anyone takes one of them because he'll hunt it down until the end of time. Our youngest doesn't give a rip about the toys, unless he's taking one to tease his brother. So the chase scenario works rather well. Our oldest tears after his precious toy and the youngest follows because he wants to grab it first so he can torment his brother with it. The other part of the game is "…

What Your Dogs Know That You Don't

My dogs are well trained and do not mess in the house. So imagine my surprise one morning when I woke up and found markings throughout the kitchen.

I brought both of them over, made them sniff the offending area, and then scolded them roundly. Bruiser hung his head...Rocki wagged his tail and tried to jump up for me to hug him. I was about to melt and so I walked away and thought that was the end of it.

The next morning...the same thing...markings throughout the kitchen and family room. I was at my wits end. I went through the routine again with them, only I spoke louder.

Later that day, I went into the basement to do the laundry and saw something scurry in my path. It was too big to be a spider or cricket so I called my husband and he helped me look around. We found evidence of a little field mouse.

My husband went to the store, bought a mouse trap and we put peanut butter on it and set it out. The next morning when we came down, the mouse trap was intact, but the peanut butter was gone…

Want a healthy dog? Try "people food".

My doctor has a cottage near mine and we often run into each other and chat about our pets. She has a beautiful white Maltese that just had a litter. One day we were talking about food for the dogs and she told me she feeds her dog like I feed mine - they get chicken, pork, beef, liver and whatever other meat we are eating as well as some fresh vegetables. She leaves dog food out as a snack as do I. The reason?

She told me she had done a lot of research into the high rate of diabetes in dogs and found that commercial dog food is high in carbohydrates and this is what causes diabetes. We all know people in the area with different types of dogs who are giving them insulin on a regular basis for their diabetes. She believes that if we fed them more meat and vegetables we can avoid this in our pets.

I personally have been following this diet with my two boys and they are always full of energy, have beautiful coats, no "doggie breath" and are at a proper weight. When they go to t…