Shit Tzu - Small Heroes Amongst Us

Saving hearts of mankind throughout the world, countless dogs have devoted their lives to bring joy, happiness, love, and protection to their owners, as unsung heroes amongst us. This is a tribute to one such hero — a shih tzu named Daisy
Daisy was a purebred shih tzu rescue dog from what we had determined to be a small puppy mill in our city, and the proverbial ugly duckling turned princess, who left us this past weekend for the Great Puppy Park in the heavens.

From a shivering pooch that walked with her head and tail down, she blossomed to strut with an air of arrogance and importance that could not be denied — a trait for which shih tzu are famously known for.

Her precious photo has been my avatar on numerous social media sites.

At the age of 2 1/2 years old when we brought her home, Daisy had already been used to breed 3 litters of pups — a horrid abuse which would nearly be her demise in about 2 years to come. She wasn’t house trained to go to the bathroom, let alone taken out for walkies or car rides.

Sick baby girl post-surgery 2 years after we got her.

Friends told us to take her on a one-way trip to the country, but she would later prove them all wrong in their assumptions that you can’t teach an older dog new behaviors — it merely takes a lot of love, attention, and some patience.

Daisy was the love, joy, and light of our everyday life, which was torn from our family when she had congestive heart failure. There were no signs or advance warnings — for which we can only guess was a trait attributed to alpha dogs that she may have learned from her big brother who died last spring — a German Sheppard police dog, who hid his ailing deceptively well.
I will never forget our last night together that you blessed me with, my little girl … the adorable look that you gave me as I worked at my desk in the wee hours of the morning which brought me to pick you up and lay with you in the recliner.

We snuggled together in the blanket I had just bought earlier that day because it reminded me of you with its long cream colored fuzzies. There we lay content together watching a movie until you’d had enough to want down, and I fell asleep.

Never will I forget the horrifying cries of pain that I awoke to which emanated from the bedroom where you laid in your bed. Your bliss to lie with us in bed had us fooled into believing it was merely a bad dream as you lay there as though nothing had happened, soaking up the love and attention.

We will never know if the 3 hours that the emergency vet wasted leaving you unattended before giving you tests was what cost you your life, despite the fact that your father had told her that he thought you might have had a heart attack.

Placing you in an incubator with high heat likely exacerbated your situation — something which a shih tzu cannot take and a reputable vet should know — putting even more stress on your struggling heart which had bloated to at least twice its size, as your lungs were filling with fluids.

You put up such a fierce fight to stay with us — your heart having been restarted 3 times, as you lay there unconscious under oxygen while they used a pump to breathe for you. Alas, after a couple of hours, it was too much for you, and we could not bring you back. For the countless times that you saved my heart and soul, in the end, I was unable to save yours.

I miss you and love you beyond all measure. You shall live on always and forever in our hearts. Don’t ever believe for a single moment that you will ever be replaced, as you were one of a kind, my little angel, and will always hold a special place within me. You have given me such great memories which will never be forgotten …

The Famous Claw Paw — always and only on car rides while stopped at red lights when you knew for certain I’d have your undivided attention and would not be distracted, out comes the claw paw … bat pat bat on my hand with your paw demanding pets, even breaking out the claws if you were seriously desperate for lovin.

Turbo Face — a sight to behold as you stuck your head out from the car window. You had no idea how funny you looked as I’d watch with you unaware in the side mirror with your long furry face being turbo-blown by the wind.

Land Walk — how you hit the seat of the car walking as I’d set you into it every single time was ever so sweet and adorable.

Puppy Lies — you were one clever cookie, but oh so gullible each time I’d distract you during car rides — ‘(Gasp!) Look Daisy, see the puppy?!,’ and into a barking frenzy you’d go, bouncing from one side of the car to the other in search of something that often wasn’t even there.

Dinner Dance Diddy — dancing in one spot from one foot to the other, as your mouth quivered and you shivered in excitement over the scrumptious meal that you knew was being prepared with your favorite meat treats on top.

Hot Shot Pajama Party — one of our favorite past times together, lying in bed watching movies on TV while pigging out on our favorite treats to our heart’s desire when your dad was gone on hot shots, and we’d fall asleep together with the TV on.

Ear Pull Foot Stomp — baby, I know how much you tried to please me by allowing me to pull the hair out from your ears with tweezers that little shih tzus build up — your little leg and foot vibrating and stomping as you tried to bear the pain. But trust me even more when I say that it hurt me a lot more to do it than it did you.

Bum Walk — as much as you were such a princess, that little crown of yours would slightly fall as you’d drag your bum across the area rug in the living room. What were you doing? Scratching your butt? I know you didn’t have worms, little thing.

Face Push — as if you could feel even more lovin from one’s hand as they reached to pet your head, pushing your face into their palm as far and hard as you could.

Nose-Licker — due to your short snout, you frequently lick your running nose — a sight not fitting for a princess, but somehow you manage to pull it off in an enchanting, humorous manner.

Waddle Walk — your vet had attributed your hind bowlegs to short ligaments, possibly due to poor breeding (the latter said quietly so as not to permit your tender ears from hearing which could scar that fragile ego that you’ve worked so hard at building up). You have no clue as to how endearing your little waddle walk was to watch from behind.

I loved you then during all of those moments, little thing, I love you now, and I shall love you always. I cannot bear to say goodbye to you, but what I will say, is until we see each other again … sweet dreams and playtime as you join your big brother in the heavens above.

About Shih Tzu
Reportedly the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs, Shih Tzu originated in China over 2,000 years ago, and were presented as gifts from rulers in Tibet and China to Chinese royalty. Recent DNA analysis confirms that the ancestors of today’s Shih Tzu breed are the most ancient dog breeds.

Adult Shih Tzu in full show coat. Most Shih Tzus are kept with shorter,
more manageable clips.

Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth researched canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as far back as 10,000 years ago. He created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the “Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog” — a scavenger — evolved into the “Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog.” From this dog evolved the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin. Another branch coming down from the “Kitchen Midden Dog” gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another “Kitchen Midden Dog” branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu.

The breed was imported into Great Britain in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s and brought into the U.S. in the late 1950’s, and has always been bred as a companion dog.

The Shih Tzu — the term which also applies to plural form — literally translates from Chinese as “Lion Dog,” its vaguely lion-like look being associated with the Tibetan Snowlion, and have therefore been nicknamed “Tibetan temple dog.” They’re also often known as the “Xi Shi quan,” based on the name of Xi Shi who was regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China. Shih tzu are sometimes called the Chrysanthemum Dog because their face looks much like the flower, and the Chinese or Tibetan Lion Dog.

Shih Tzu have an exceptionally good-natured, outgoing, friendly, intelligent, loyal, trusting, playful, gentle, and docile personality, with a warm, sweet, wide-eyed, and trusting expression on their face.

They’re a lively little dog with a highly alert nature which makes them a good watchdog, as well as being a very affectionate companion dog. They soon work out their owner’s territory and will defend it in a flurry of activity, barking furiously at any intruder.

They have a proud, distinctively aristocratic posture with head well up and tail curved over the back, with an air of arrogance and self-importance that conceals a gentle and playful nature.

Shih Tzu thrive on human companionship, both adult and child, and need a good deal of attention, being completely devoted to their family in return. Stand-offish with strangers, they’re a devoted pet for adults or families with older children, but a teething puppy and a small child do not make for good companions.

The breed can be obstinate, but patient and consistent training is the key to controlling this tendency, which should essentially begin early as a puppy.

They require minimal exercise but are a sturdy, active little dog that enjoys playing fetch or going for a short walk outside.

Shit Tzu Care
Shih Tzu can require more care than some other breeds if the hair is kept at show length, needing frequent brushing to avoid tangles. A short haircut — also known as a pet trim or puppy cut — can reduce this brushing task to once month or so.

They have 2 coats of fur — the bottom coat shedding into the top coat rather than off of the dog entirely, resulting in very little shedding in the conventional sense. With regular brushing and bathing, shedding can be reduced to almost nothing. As they shed so lightly, Shih Tzu are considered to be one of the breeds more suitable for people with allergies.

Owners often tie strands of fur from their head into a pony-tail that sticks up — called a topknot — and many different hair clips and bows are added to make them appear more “cute.”

These animals are house dogs that cannot stand hot, humid weather.

Since the breed is adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out somewhat for the colder seasons is appropriate, but there is still a substantial difference from a floor-length show coat and a warmer, medium-length winter coat.

Shih Tzu noses are small and flat, so eating contributes to a rather unclean face which can be wiped with a damp paper towel to remove food remnants. This is another area where the haircut matters. A proper show cut will get messier — often even requiring the hair to be rubber-banded together for eating efficiently — than other ways of cutting the facial hair.

The area around the eyes should be checked daily for mucus buildup and cleaned when needed. Their nails need to be clipped about every month, as they can easily injure their ears.

Shih Tzu are very sensitive to food allergies. It’s best to feed them foods that are free of any corn. It has been shown that the corn in dog food can cause itching, hot spots, dandruff, excessive shedding, foot-licking, face-rubbing and staining, loose stools, and gassiness.

When drinking, it’s sometimes necessary to supervise them because water can enter their face-level noses more easily and inhibit breathing.

This is why many Shih Tzu are trained to drink from the sort of licker bottles used by hamsters and gerbils. It’s best to have them drink from these or a water bottle to keep the face clean and dry, preventing red yeast from growing on their beard and moustache. Red yeast is a contributor to the reddish color that some display.

Providing them with bottled water — or water that doesn’t contain chlorine — helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum.

Shit Tzu Health Issues
Shih Tzu are considered to be snub-nosed dogs. As such, they’re very sensitive to high temperatures, which is why many airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceeds 75°F (24°C).

Some health issues common among the breed are portosystemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia, and various eye problems, such as cataracts and clogged tear ducts.

This breed can also suffer von Willebrand’s Disease — a blood disorder for deficiency in clotting. Dogs affected by the disease are more likely to have excessive bleeding episodes upon injury or surgery, which is similar to hemophilia in humans. They may also develop nosebleeds or bleeding from the gum, bleeding in the stomach or intestine, and some dogs may have blood in their urine. Symptoms similar to those of arthritis may also occur if bleeding is into the joints.

Umbilical hernias are common, which are a bubble-like protrusion at the navel that can range in size, but usually no larger than a nickel. This occurs when the umbilical rings fail to close fully after birth. Most umbilical hernias are small and don’t require surgical correction, but they can be repaired for inexpensively by your vet when they’re spayed or neutered. In the highly unlikely event that an umbilical hernia becomes painful to the touch, swollen or red, they should be examined by a veterinarian within 24 hours.

The life span of a Shih Tzu is 10 to 15 years, although some variation from this range is possible.

Shih Tzu Crossbreeds and Imperials
A crossbreed is a mixed breed dog with 2 purebred parents of different breeds, often done in hopes of creating a puppy with desirable qualities from each parent. Of course, any time 2 different breeds are mixed, there’s no way to know which traits will be inherited from each parent.

Shih Tzu are sometimes crossbred with other toy dogs, creating much-hyped and very expensive designer mixed breed dogs as Shih-poo (crossed with a toy Poodle), the “Zuchon,” “Shichon,” or “Teddy Bear,” (crossed with a Bichon Frisé) and the Pom shih (crossed with a Pomeranian). Shih Tzu may also be crossed with Maltese, (the “Malshi,” “Schmaltz,” or “Shihtese”) and a ShiChi which is a Shih Tzu crossed with a Chihuahua. They have also been known to be crossed with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Shorkie is 1/2 “teacup” Yorkie and 1/2 “Toy sized” Shih Tzu. Technically, there is no such thing as a “teacup” yorkie nor a “toy sized” shih tzu, which are terms used by unscrupulous breeders to make the naive public believe runt-sized dogs are desirable.

Imperial shih tzu is another term used by unscrupulous breeders to sell shih tzu that are below healthy standard size. These tiny dogs — frequently less than 50% of the recommended minimum size — are often prone to very serious health problems and may not live a full life span. Many are created by breeding the runt of one litter to the runt of another litter.

Choosing a Reputable Breeder
While the reasons for welcoming a rescue dog to your home are plentiful, there are many benefits to giving a new home to purebred dogs, such as minimized health problems, resulting in far less emotional, mental, and financial stress of vet bills. Another advantage of purebred dogs is that the qualities of each generation are passed on to the next.

All breeds are different however, so consider their size, space requirement, coat type and grooming required, temperament such as obedience, level of independence or attachment, aggressive or passive nature, energy level, and exercise needed as a mature dog when developing your short list.

Do your research and take time to consider all aspects of the breed you select. Narrow your choices down to two or three breeds suited to your lifestyle, then get as much information as you can before making a final choice.

Never buy on impulse and really think through the decision to get a dog. They’re a lifetime commitment and will rely on you for all of their needs. The average life span of a dog is anywhere from 10 to 15 years or more, and a puppy is a living creature you cannot “try on for size.”

Under no circumstances is giving a puppy as a surprise appropriate. Too often the animal is unwanted from the beginning and finds itself helplessly abandoned or if kept, ultimately neglected

“Puppy mills” are breeding operations in which dogs are repeatedly bred for financial gain and kept in substandard conditions, confining dogs to small cages under squalid living conditions for their entire lives. These poor creatures commonly suffer from various infections and parasites due to poor care, with chronic health and behavioral problems in the puppies.

They sell primarily to retail pet shops and occasionally directly to consumers. The dogs are force-bred continuously with no concern for their physical health or psychological well-being, and most are disease-ridden.

The AKC and CKC registers over 160 uniquely different breeds, each with their own natural instincts, characteristics and appearance.

The American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club have an extensive database of club recognized purebred breeders, mandatory standards which must be adhered to in order for breeders to maintain membership, as well as information about purchasing a dog, how to select a breed, and how to select a breeder.

The Canadian Shih Tzu Club’s Code of Ethics require that all breeding by members will be planned and aimed at improvement of the breed. The member-breeder must be familiar with the Standard and do everything in their power to discourage breeding from clearly inferior specimens of the breed, or to any such specimen with a stud. No dogs exhibiting a hereditary defect, unsound temperament or poor health are to be bred, and dams not to be bred before 12 months of age.

The breeder must inform buyers that the puppy is guaranteed to be free from disabling disease or congenital defects. Should a defect develop and it’s confirmed by 2 veterinarians that it is a congenital or inherited problem, the breeder must guarantee to refund the purchase price and reclaim the puppy or replace it with another puppy.

Only buy from a knowledgeable breeder who specializes in your breed of choice. Purchase from someone you’re comfortable with and who you feel you can trust beyond the day of purchase to be as concerned about your puppy’s future as you are.

The CKC does not recommend individual breeders but can refer you to accredited Breed Clubs who in turn refer potential buyers to breeders of their organization.

Some breeds of purebred dogs have a history of inherited health problems. Reputable breeders will have established a breeding program that dramatically reduces or eliminates the possibility of such disorders appearing in their dogs. Ask to see the formal health clearances for both the dam and the sire, which should always be on file. Also ask to see the mother which should always be there for their pups.

A member of the AKC or CKC cannot offer you a purebred dog with the papers at one price and another price without. If they do, leave, they’re not a reputable breeder.

If you have doubts that a breeder is a CKC member, call the Client Services Department at 416-674-3699 or email at The AKC can be reached at 919-233-9767, or by their contact form.

Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

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