One Month living with a Shih Tzu
Have you owned a Shih Tzu before?
Am I Ready for a Dog?
Growing up in New York State my family had large dogs. My earliest memories were some with my first childhood dog named Penny. She was a full bred boxer and did not like children, though she did come around a little. She was never a fan of me but she kept to herself and didn't bother with me much. She passed away when I was five, I wasn't really heart broken as I had always known she didn't like me, not to mention my mother would constantly remind me to stay out of her way. A few years later we rescued another boxer named Lucas. He was young and playful when we got him and became quite used to my sister and me. Nothing we could do to him seemed to upset him, and we harassed him awfully as young kids do. He was a family dog. He protected us when he felt threatened. We had two cats that used to torture him and he would let them. Nothing seemed to bother him. He was the perfect dog. He was sturdy with big shoulders and strong legs. This article isn't about him, I just want you to get a feel for what I was used to being around growing up.
This article is about the shih tzu I rescued about a month ago. When I say I rescued him I don't mean from a shelter or a pound, I got him from a friend of a friend. She acquired the dog when he was around one because the people who originally had him could no longer care for him. This friend of a friend took him in and for the last year gave him a good home. She breeds boxer's and was in the midst of training a new group of pups and the shih tzu had taken a back seat from the attention he was used to receiving. Something had to give in this situation.
New Year, New Me
That's where I come in. On New Year's Eve I went to a party at the house where the shih tzu was living. I didn't see him at first. There were puppies running all over the place and i saw the mother boxer coming and going. She was a beautiful dog. Since I grew up with one most of my life I've always been partial to them. I asked when they would be selling the puppies, even though i knew the chances of getting one were slim. Since my days in New York State I've moved into an apartment in Fort Worth Texas, somewhere an active dog like that would not have ample space to run and play. I look down from the table I was sitting at to see what is pawing at my leg and its this little hairy dog looking up at me with these big black eyes. His tail is wagging and he's standing on his hind legs. Maybe it was the holiday's or the booze but I was in love with him at first sight.
As much as I wanted a dog again I knew I had to think about this. Was I ready to take on the responsibility of caring for him? I thought about it for a week and decided I was going to go for it. One week after New Year's Eve I went to pick up the dog. It was a cold day in Texas so they wrapped him in a blanket and hanged him to me, and just like that I was a dog owner again. The first place we went to was Petco to buy him a few things, dishes, food, toys, leash and a collar. Then it was off to his new home.
I spent a lot of time debating on changing his name. He just turned two so I was on the fence. When I got him home I called him by his name and he perked up and looked at me, he clearly understood I called to him so that was settled, his name remained Luca.
You Must be Hungry by Now
I put Luca's food and water dishes in the dining room in the far corner, where there is more room and it would be out of the way of traffic. When we first got home I showed him where it was but he wasn't interested in it, he just followed me around the apartment. When it came time to cook something for myself he laid down in the kitchen and watched me move around in between dosing on and off. When I sat down in the dining room to eat is when he went over to his dish and ate up his food. This pattern continued for almost a full month. In the morning I would give him half of a cup of food and sit on the floor with him, several times I would have to coax him to eat. He is starting to eat by himself, though he still will not eat when I pour his food. The second and third week I tried giving him different kinds of fruits and vegetables. He seemed to prefer vegetables over fruit. He loved broccoli, spinach and cauliflower which I cooked before serving it to him. I tried giving him apples and melon which he would not eat.
There is already a big difference in the way he acts now from when I first brought him home. He's more carefree now, he plays with his toys independently. He does not like to be alone though, and always has an eye out for me. I do not think this behavior will change much in time. Shih Tzu's are companion dogs and that is what he wants to be. I read up on the breed a bit, mostly just reading bits and pieces on the internet and one thing I kept seeing was that the breed does not like to play. Luca loves to play, he has a very playful attitude. He'll grab one of his toys and give it to me to throw, and he'll fetch it several times before he tires himself out. When he's done play he just takes the toy and walks away.
Time to Get Cleaned Up
He has a lot of hair, two coats, and its thick. When it came to buying a shampoo I wanted something that would not dry out his skin so I ended up buying an oatmeal shampoo. He enjoyed his bath, seemed to enjoy the water on him and loved being scrubbed down. The only part he seemed to dislike was drying him off. Afterwards he ran from one end of my apartment to the next, running and jumping and acting wild. I took it as though he enjoyed feeling clean. His hair grows fast and I realized very quickly that everything ends up tangled in it so I brush him out everyday with a dog brush, something else he seems to enjoy.
Luca loves being outside. He loves going for walks around the neighborhood and always stops to look at the people as they walk by. If someone stops to say hi he gets on his hind legs and stands there waiting to be pet. He gets a lot of attention when we go for walks. I've tried to be consistent with the times he eats and when we go out but he has a mind of his own. He'll eat when he's ready. When we are out for walks it usually takes him a good half mile in before he'll go to the bathroom. I've taken him to the dark park several times but doesn't seem to interested in playing with other dogs or even running around. He'll sniff around, go to the bathroom then come sit by the bench with me.
One of the Best Decisions
I think what shocks me the most is how much Luca has improved my quality of life. Growing up with larger breeds I knew the love and loyalty they provided and I didn't think you could get that from a small dog. Luca has so much personality and he demands so much of my attention. He fills my apartment with personality. Though it's only been one month I can't picture not coming home to him jumping up and down, running all over the place when I walk in.