Thursday, February 28, 2008

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 recruited my mother-in-law and nephew, who the boys adore, to stay at the house with them and dog-sit. We figured this would be a good solution to their loneliness...they knew my mother-in-law and nephew and they were in their own home with all the beds, toys and scents they were familiar with. But I guess it wasn't enough.

On Sunday, my mother-in-law called us and said that the boys posted themselves at the garage door (the one we left from) and sat and waited. By afternoon, she said Rocki and Bruiser were crying. She told us they didn't eat or drink for two days. Finally, on Sunday morning, they ate a bit and started to come to life. By Monday, it seems they were pretty much back to normal, running in and out of the house, eating, and chasing each other around. Finally, I can relax and enjoy my vacation!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

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.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

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 "hiding" the toy. I'll pretend to throw it and then when they go in the direction they think I've thrown it, I'll hide it on them. Well, they'll tear around the house 5 or 6 times before they actually find it. Then they get praise and we do it again.

This is just something I came up with. Other times I'll walk or run up and down the stairs and around the coffee table and from room to room so they chase me. Hey...I could use the exercise too. :-) But the bottom line is you must keep them moving for a period of time to keep their energy levels up and prevent them from becoming overweight and sluggish.

In the summer it's so easy...we take them for walks in the park or let them run on the beach. In the winter, we simply can't because it's too cold. And keeping them active throughout the winter will mean in the spring their walks will be easy for them because they've stayed active through the winter months.