And then there was one…

Tilly Tot daytripping (with her human "sister"). Photo credit: Laurie M. Hamilton

Tilly Tot daytripping (with her human “sister”). Photo credit: Laurie M. Hamilton

With a heavy heart, I am letting you know that Tilly Tot, our elderly shih tzu rescue dog, passed away this morning after surgery. My husband and I are, as you might guess, completely devastated. Two of our three dogs gone in four months.

I thank you all for travelling on this journey with me. I will have to do some soul-searching, but I doubt I will continue this blog. Your interest in our three dogs has been gratifying. I am going to leave the blog up for a little while because I do believe that these articles are of interest to some people who haven’t seen them yet.

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The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 2

Last week we talked about the varied colours of dogs and how these colours might relate to personality traits.  I specifically referred to shih tzus, starting out with Ling Ling, since those are the dogs I know best, but I bet some of the comments in this mini-series will refer to your dog, no matter what the breed. (See last week’s column here.) Or it could be that I’m all wet, having lost my capability to think clearly.  You could help confirm or deny that with your comments below on what your dog’s coat colours are and what your dog’s temperament is like…please?

Oreo

Here we have Oreo, our one male dog, a purebred like Ling Ling, 6 years old.   His colouring is two-tone brown (beige and darker brown) with a black face.  I picked him from a breeder’s pictures online because he looked gentle and cuddly.

Dapper Dog Oreo. (Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Dapper Dog Oreo. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

ALL BROWN, BROWN AND BLACK, OR BROWN AND WHITE COAT 
  • gentle and cuddly (can I pick ‘em or what?)
  • stubborn, sometimes mulishly so (maybe this is just a shih tzu trait, rather than a colour one?)
  • demands a lot of attention, sometimes just petting and being told he is a good boy, sometimes lengthy cuddling
  • always wants to be first or the centre of attention
  • very affectionate
  • a great foot licker (if you like that sort of thing, which I do)
  • very healing – he would be a good dog to have in a care home or hospital
  • quite intelligent, but deaf when he wants to be
  • dislikes car rides intensely, likes being at home, not a runner
  • had little or no interest in toys before age 5
  • protective of Mommy, Daddy, and the two little females to a very responsible degree
  • wary of strangers
  • understanding to a certain extent – he is the leader of our pack but lets Ling Ling think she is, until it’s a matter of concern or desire on his part – then he puts his paw down
  • not much of a backyard dog, but likes being outside better in winter
Shih-Tzu

Brown, black and white Shih-Tzu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you all will please put your observations down in the comments below, perhaps we (meaning I) can set up some kind of comparison, and see how many points match and how many don’t.  Yes, this is in the nature of an experiment, but we aren’t exactly dealing with rocket science either.  It will be fun to see the results next week.

We would really love it if you would add your
dog’s information so we can compare comments
and make this  a little more scientific.
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

  (Next week watch for Tilly Tot in The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 3)

 Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-6.2, June 29, 2014)

 

The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 1

English: A black and white Shih Tzu.

Rosie, an English black and white Shih Tzu.  “Wanna snuggle with me?”  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I might talk almost exclusively about shih tzus, I am reasonably certain that a lot of it applies to dogs of other breeds, and probably to mixed-breed dogs.  However, I do not for a minute think that these observations have any application to cats of whatever breed or colour.  Cats live by their own code, much of which is incomprehensible to pet parents and other humans.  (Note:  This may not be true for non-human pet parents.  Watch for a future column that will be dealing with this subject).

The Red Shih Tzu

One of the less common colours of shih tzus is red.  It’s not rare, mind you, but it is not as common as brown, beige, tricolour, black and white, etc.  Now you may think that this is a study about the different colours of shih tzus, but you would be wrong.  I’ll deal with that in another article.  What we’re talking about here is how true a shih tzu is to its colour.  (By extrapolation as mentioned above, this study could apply to other dog breeds.)

 …And Other Colours

English: Shih Tzu Deutsch: Shih Tzu

A tricolour Shih Tzu in full show coat (black, white, and gold). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know what I mean.  In the case of humans, red heads are supposed to be fiery-tempered and feisty.  Blondes are supposed to have more fun.  Brunettes are supposed to be sultry, but quick-witted.  Black-haired people often have a rich historical or family background.  And so on.  Much of this is clichéd, but the reason it is clichéd is that so often it is true.

Scientific Study of Sorts?

Thus, I’m trying to see if there is any connection between the colour of the coat and the breed of dog, with particular attention paid to shih tzus.  The problem is that I haven’t seen enough of these little dogs to make this anywhere near a scientific study.  So I will be asking you, the reader and doggie pet parent, to help me out with observations of your own dog.

When you comment, please specify:

(1) what breed your dog is… please specify if it is purebred or a cross (and what the cross part is, if you know it),

(2) his/her age and sex,

(3) what colour(s) each dog is,

(4) then list the dog’s personality traits, habits and idiosyncrasies, as many as you can think of.

The regal Princess, Ling Ling.  (Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman)

The regal Princess, Ling Ling. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Ling Ling

Now, let’s go back to our red shih tzu, the redoubtable princess, Ling Ling.  One of the reasons Ernest picked her at the age of one year was her beautiful red and white colouring.  She is a female, purebred Shih Tzu, spayed, 7 years old, in reasonably good health (although she appears to have been born with hip dysplasia, but it also doesn’t seem to bother her). Here are a list of her characteristics.

RED or RED AND WHITE COAT
  • full of energy and enthusiasm
  • a runner (will escape whenever she can, just to run for the sheer joy of it)
  • loves her toys and her daddy to the extreme
  • vain about her appearance (the only one of my dogs able to keep her girlish figure by eating only when she is hungry)
  • stubborn, sometimes mulishly so
  • affectionate, often surprisingly gentle, and the older she gets the more she likes to snuggle
  • dedicated to a fixed picture (we had a toaster that would sometimes set the fire alarm off – this frightened Ling Ling; to this day when we go to use the toaster, a new, silent, non-smoking model, she will run as far away from the kitchen as she can get)
  • very jealous of the other dogs getting attention from Daddy, especially Tilly Tot
  • royal and dainty
  • to Ling Ling, all strangers are friends she just hasn’t met yet
  • loves her huge back yard, but not so much in winter
The three holy terrors - keeping an eye on Mommy.  (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

The three holy terrors – keeping an eye on Mommy. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Next week we’ll take a look at Oreo’s and Tilly’s colours, plus any information that you dog parents have sent in.  We’ll probably have a Part 3 the following week to take a look at the results and see if we can draw any conclusions.

We would really love it if you would add your dog’s
information below, so we can compare comments
and make this research just a little more scientific.
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

(Next week watch for The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 2” by Sandra Bell Kirchman)

 

Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-6.1, June 22, 2014)

 

Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My! – Part 3

Last week and the week before, we talked about the pests that helped make the dog days of summer less fun and more pestilential—namely, mosquitoes, wood ticks, fleas, sunburn, and so on.  Today, we talk about some solutions

The Revolution Solution

Armed with pest protection, Oreo and Tilly Tot head outside. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

The main thing we do for our three dogs is use a product recommended by our vet, called Revolution.  It is not cheap, but it is effective.  How do I know?  Tell you in a minute.  First, once a month you apply  a capsule-full of Revolution directly on the skin at the midpoint between their shoulders and just below the neck (so they can’t get at it to lick it).  Make sure you part the hair so that the measured amount of liquid is placed directly on the skin.  It is absorbed into the skin, which takes a couple of days.  Our groomer says that we should be able to bathe them after three days of application without losing the benefit of the product.

This product was recommended to us by our vet because our previous product, called Advantage, had one drawback.  It worked great on the two girls, LingLing and Tilly Tot, but Oreo turned out to be allergic to it and went nuts for about three days scratching, rubbing, and whining.  We tried bathing him right away, but that didn’t work and there was nothing for it but to wait until it disappeared from his system.  Revolution has proven safe for him, plus the girls.  However, you probably won’t know if a product is safe allergy-wise for your dog until you try it.

Okay, how do I know that Revolution is effective?  Well, it is definitely effective for ticks, because consider the fact that I rarely go outside in the summer because I am allergic to mosquitoes and their bites.  Where I live, that’s almost a jail sentence for the entire summer, but it’s better than being in agony all the time because of the huge itchy/sore lumps that mosquito bites produce all over my legs and arms that last for weeks.

So, without my venturing outside, ticks will have a hard time finding me.  Yet, often when I sit down, after I have been holding one of the dogs on my lap for a love-in, I may have a tick on me.  Where did it come from?  The tick fairy?  Noooo, it dropped off my dog because it didn’t like the taste of the Revolution.

Revolution for cats is also available.  Now all they have to do is find a Revolution-like formula for humans.  One note here is that Advantage is less expensive than Revolution and it works well if your pet is not allergic to it.

You and Your Pet’s Vet

No free lunches here!

No free lunches here!

The best way for you to find out what will work for you and your dog or cat is to partner with your vet to find the best product.  Revolution provides protection against fleas, ticks, heartworm, ear mites and sarcoptic mange.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t list mosquito protection.  One vet’s office recommends a special mosquito collar along with the monthly Revolution treatment.  Once again, you can search the internet for different remedies and prices.  Many other treatments are available and I’m sure that many of them are effective against the pests we have mentioned.  Your vet is probably the best source of information on the subject, especially since s/he knows the type of pests native to your location.

What They Say About Spray

Chemical structure of DEET.

Chemical structure of DEET. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One last word of advice regarding bug sprays.  Many sites online warn against using sprays made for humans on their pets, especially if they contain DEET.   They also caution that even some sprays made for dogs or cats may actually be toxic to some animals.  Spraying your home for pests such as cockroaches and ants is also dangerous, and recommendations are made to remove your pets from the home until the spraying is finished and dissipated.  Birds are especially susceptible to airborne sprays.

Although I researched many sites on this last subject, the advice given by WiseGeek.org seemed…well…wise.  Here is the link: http://www.wisegeek.org/is-bug-spray-safe-for-pets.htm.  A comment at the bottom by one of the site’s readers describes a homemade remedy that she says works well for both her and her dog.  I have not tried any of the products and am not recommending them, but simply offering some more information.  Ultimately, your decision will be up to you and your vet.

 

How do you handle protection against mosquitoes, wood ticks and fleas for your pet(s)?
What remedies has your vet recommended for protecting your pet(s)?
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 

 (Next week watch for The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 1)

 

Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-6.1, June 8, 2014)

 

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Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My! – Part 2

Last week we took a look at the “Mosquitoes” portion of the summer pestification of pets  (go here for Part 1).  We also promised an outline of Wood Ticks and Fleas and what to do about them.  There’s a bonus for you, too.  So here we go.

Do Wood Ticks Tick You Off?

American dog tick - most common in NA. Photo credit: © northrup.org

American dog tick – most common in NA. Photo credit: © northrup.org

Now we come to the little beggar who probably causes nearly as many intimate moments between spouses who hike as the Kinsey Report or the Kama Sutra. That’s the common wood tick. You might recoil in shock at my words with, “How do you figure that?!” Well, what do prudent hikers and campers do after…uh…hiking and camping? They search each other thoroughly for ticks, right? And, uh…in the process…uh, okay, to continue on to your pets’ risk here, it’s high, because when dogs go outside, they will run through brush or even just lie on the grass, steeping in the solstice sunshine.

ANYHOW, this is a problem because if they are scratching and biting at the spot, you don’t really know which one of the terrible three it is. I suggest you check. If there is a flat dark brown lump that looks like a funny mole, you have found yourself a greedy tick. If left alone, the tick will continue to feed on the host’s blood until it becomes gorged. I have seen ticks grow to a huge size and turn a sort of greyish colour. There are dozens of versions of how to take a tick off a dog (or yourself for that matter) safely, and I’m not going to go into them here. I suggest you google them and see which works best; or better still, ask your vet.

A few ways to help keep ticks away:

  • Keep your lawn mowed;
  • Clear any dead brush from under bushes and other places around your property;
  • Remove or drain any standing water on your property…like water barrels, ruts, etc. If you have a bird bath or other items containing water, keep them clean, with fresh water in them

 

Flea microphotograph

Flea microphotograph (Photo credit: National Media Museum)

My Dog Has Fleas

This familiar little ditty is funny when you are tuning a ukulele, but not so funny when it is acted out in real life before your eyes.  Fleas are dirty, biting, itchy, external parasites that not only make your pet pretty uncomfortable, but can cause messy rashes due to allergic reactions to flea saliva, as well as scratching injuries, infection, and transmission of various diseases, up to and including the bubonic plague.  The latter, of course, is rare and generally comes from rat fleas, but this is not to say that at a flea social, the dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and the rat fleas (Nosopsyllus fasciatus) might get to schmoozing.

I’m not aware that fleas are a big problem in our area (southeastern Saskatchewan).  However, if you do find that your pet has fleas, don’t let them (the fleas, that is) get free transportation and meals.  Use one of the solutions coming up below.

Newsflash for Canine Sun Worshippers

Did you know that your dog can get sunburnt?  Yes, indeed.  Our three little Shih Tzus are sun worshippers from the get go.  In the winter, they follow the sun patches around the living room all afternoon.  In summer, the two females, Ling Ling and Tilly Tot, love to go and lie on the lawn or the cement patio and soak up the rays.  Oreo, the male, because of his thick coat and normally higher body temperature, not so much.

Ling Ling - the Princess pose.  Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Ling Ling – basking in the sun.. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Dogs most at risk of sunburn sport white or pale-coloured fur, in addition to dogs with summer cuts, or ones who are naturally quite short-haired.  Nearly all dogs can get sunburn on the tips of their ears and nose, plus the bare or sparsely haired under parts, such as groin and belly. So to protect against sunburn and heat stroke, it makes sense to use common sense.

  • Provide lots of shade and fresh water outdoors.
  • If the pet is an outdoor dog, make sure the kennel is fully shaded.  A sun block or even awning would certain take care of that requirement.
  • Limiting your indoor dog’s outdoor time in the sun can help protect it as well.
  • You can also provide sun screen for your dog, but it is NOT recommended to use products intended for humans, as some of the ingredients in these are toxic to dogs and cats.

One rule of thumb states that, if the product is safe for a human baby, it is safe for dogs if given under supervision, i.e., soaked into the skin before letting the dog lick any of the sun screened areas.  I don’t know that I would use that for my dogs, and would definitely consult my vet before doing that.

A note of caution about cats…according to information research carried out by Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM, of Veterinary Medicine Guide, some of the common active ingredients in sunscreens break down into salicylic acid, a.k.a aspirin, which is a known toxin for cats.  My suggestion is to search the internet for information on various remedies for protecting your pets against the sun and/or consult your veterinarian.

Tilly Tot watching out car window. (Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton)

Tilly Tot watching out car window. (Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton)

A Big, Fat No-No

One thing to note, NEVER EVER EVER leave your pet in a closed car!  Even in the winter sun, It takes very little time for a car to rise to impossible temperatures causing an animal to start overheating; this leads to heat stroke and possible death.  Even with the window down a bit, it may not allow enough room for the canned air to circulate and prevent rapid heating of the interior.

Oops, so sorry, but I’ve run out of time and space for this topic.  And I really wanted to bring you all this important information.  I promise I will provide some of the solutions next week in the third and final episode of “Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My!”

 

What protection do you provide for your
pet to guard against sunburn?
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 (Next week watch for Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas-Oh My! – Part 3)

 Text and photos (except where otherwise
indicated) are copyright © 2013 by
Sandra Bell Kirchman. All rights reserved.
(Volume 14-5.5, May 31, 2014)

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Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and Fleas…Oh My! – Part 1

"MY Yard!" - Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman

Ling Ling:  “MY Yard!” – Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Ling Ling loves lawns. In fact, Ling Ling is the Princess of the Home Green Expanses and loves to be out in her yard. Note that her in the foregoing sentence is the operative word. It is her yard, which she graciously shares with the rest of us lesser beings. This means, as she soaks up the sun, she also subjects herself to the pestification of summer.

This pestification includes mosquitoes and wood ticks and fleas (oh my!), not to mention sunburn and overheating. Oreo and Tilly Tot are also at risk in summer but to a lesser extent, because they spend way less time outside than the Princess. Let’s take these pesky things one at a time.

Mosquitoes, the Mini-Mighty Munchers

First, a disclaimer – I’m not a veterinary nor a vet assistant. I am just an ordinary person sharing some of my doggie experiences with you and some of the information I have picked up along the way. At all relevant times when you have concerns, I urge you to take your pet to the veterinary for examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Vets have way more info/skill than you or me, and your dog/cat will be better off for it.

Mosquito on the nose.  Photo credit:

Mosquito on the nose. Photo credit: Siloto | dreamstime.com

Having said that, you’ll probably notice when your dog or cat comes in from outside, they will often sit and scratch intermittently until it drives you crazy. Ling Ling even groans during her scratchfest, whether in relief or because the scratching is getting painful, I don’t know. Chances are, though, that the cause is one of the terrible three—mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas.

West Nile Virus

One of the concerns in many rural and wooded areas is that the mosquitoes may carry the West Nile virus. Dogs and cats are at risk of being infected, with similar symptoms as humans. The good news is that the chances of your pets being stricken with this encephalitis-causing virus are slim. Nonetheless, the danger is there.

Heartworm

Another bit of good news is that mosquitoes are the main carriers of heartworm disease, a parasitic entity that can, under untreated circumstances, cause the death of a dog. Oh wait! That’s not the good news…the good news is that heartworm parasites are susceptible to the extreme cold temperatures of Saskatchewan (and other western provinces and states) winters, and the disease does not thrive here.

Thus, the main thing to look out for is still the West Nile virus. Even dogs with thick coats are vulnerable since their ears, eyes and nose areas are open to mosquito snacking. One way to give your dog and cat some protection is to keep them in at dawn, dusk and early evening when the mosquitoes are out in numbers socializing and looking for someone(s) to munch on.

Top-Rated, Natural-Ingredient Mosquito Repellents

A variety of repellents, some of them made specifically for dogs and cats, are on today’s market and available at the larger department stores like Wal-Mart and Target.  It’s best to avoid products that have harmful chemicals or DEET.  You might look into some of the natural mosquito repellents, such as lemon eucalyptus oil (brand name of one such product is Repel).  Problem with this repellent is its smell, and you should use caution when applying it.  It is made for humans but deemed safe for dogs.

As reported in Dogs Naturally magazine, a pet safe lemon eucalyptus product can be purchased from Daisy Paw.  They also manufacture cool collars specially made to hold the essential oils, keeping your dog protected longer without having to spray the product directly on his skin.

Another helpful product, although less effective than lemon eucalyptus oil, is a combination of geranium oil, soy bean oil, and coconut oil.  This combination is sold under the name of Bite Blocker.  One of the pet versions is sold online under the brand name of Petfresh for about $10 per bottle.

Mosquito looking for a feast.  Cartoon credit:  vectorolie |Free Digital Photos

Mosquito looking for a feast. Cartoon credit: vectorolie |Free Digital Photos

Citronella candles and incense are a well-known way to control mosquitoes.  However, it is not highly effective and should be used in combination (by both humans and animals) with other repellents.  More natural repellents include fennel, thyme, clove oil, celery extract, and neem oil.  Do some research on the web to find recipes for making the correct proportions of these herbs and spices.  It is not recommended to use any of these undiluted directly on the skin of your pet.

Dogs Naturally magazine offers Mozi-Q, an edible all-natural oral mosquito bug repellent  that purports to allow your pets to enjoy the outdoors without being “bugged.”  Bugs included in the kill range of Mozi-Q are mosquitos, black flies, ticks, chiggers, No-See-Um’s, sand flies and bed bugs.

Next Week

Next week, we’ll tackle wood ticks and go into fleas…well, I mean discuss them. No one WANTS to physically tackle wood ticks or go into fleas. Also next week, we’ll touch on sunburn (gently), and take a look at some solutions for the terrible three.

What kind of “summer pestification” are your
pets subject to?  What was your solution?
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 

 (Next week watch for Mosquitoes and Wood Ticks and FleasOh My! – Part 2)

 

Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-5.4, May 24, 2014)

 

 

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The Proper Way to Cuddle a Dog – Part 2

Last week, we looked at cuddling dogs in general and Oreo and Ling Ling in particular. We found out that sometimes it’s a question of who is cuddling whom. Continuing with our saga of cuddliness, we move to our third dog, Tilly Tot.

L-R: Ling Ling (background), Oreo Blizzard (foreground), Tilly Tot (right), Daddy in background. The Kirchman cuddlers taking a nap break. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

L-R: Ling Ling (background), Oreo Blizzard (foreground), Tilly Tot (right), Daddy in background. The Kirchman cuddlers taking a nap break. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Shih Tzu On, Shih Tzu Off

Speaking of Tilly, whoever had her before we found her had trained her to stay off the furniture. She would only come up if you specifically invited her. Our ruffian youngsters, Ling Ling and Oreo, jump up on any of the padded furniture whenever they please…and we let them.

Disclaimer:  Before we go any further, let me once again proclaim my proviso. I am not a pet expert in anything except loving my dogs. If you prefer to keep your dogs off the furniture and/or off your bed, that’s perfectly fine with me. If you have a super way of training your dogs, for goodness sakes, tell me. Don’t look to Puppy Dog Tales as the ultimate authority on how to groom, feed, and care for your shih tzu. You might find different ways to love them, or pick up some pointers you didn’t know, but there are plenty of other sites to find expert advice on the technical side of looking after your pet. /disclaimer off

Tilly Tot

Brad Pitt

Daddy is the Brad Pitt of doggy heroes for the canine groupies in our family.  Source:  http://www.last.fm/music/Brad%2BPitt

Okay, back to Tilly. She pranced in delight at becoming one of the family, despite the almost overwhelming waves of jealousy that Ling Ling exuded towards her. Tilly loves being up on the bed and cuddling…with Daddy mostly. He is the Brad Pitt of doggy heroes for the canine groupies in our family—oh, wait, and for me too!  Anyhow, all three dogs adore him. So it’s no wonder that Tilly loves being with him, especially in his recliner in the living room or on the bed at nap time. However, at night she prefers to sleep in one of her many cozy little beds around the house.

I just counted them…6 proper dog beds and 4 dog floor pillows! Believe it or not, Tilly will sleep in all of them; of course, not at the same time. Mind you, the other two can sleep in any of them if they want, but the lure of their daddy doggy hero draws them to cuddling with him in bed at night. So, if you count dog-type riches by ownership of doggy beds, then Tilly must be one of the richest dogs in the world!

Getting There and Back Again

The sweetheart of the Kirchman clan.  Photo credit:  Laurie Hamilton, P.Biol.

The sweetheart of the Kirchman clan. Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton, P.Biol.

This next point isn’t exactly about cuddling but has a lot to do with getting to and from the cuddling target area. As you might have noticed, shih tzus are not exactly high off the ground when they are standing still. They can leap and jump, some better than others, but at a standstill they measure only 1 to 2 feet off the ground. That means that leaping up on high beds is difficult. If you want them there, you might have to help.

The point of this, however, is jumping down. If they start too young, they can create back problems later in life. This is true of all small dogs, and especially ones with long backs like dachshunds. Tilly is the smallest of our bunch and she can’t always make it up on her own. She jumps down on her own, but I am thinking we should start lifting her down, because it seems to be quite a jolt to her little system.

Ernest’s Interim Solution

Ernest came up with a solution that seems to work splendidly for Oreo and Tilly.  Ling Ling is far too independent to use any kind of aid but the other two are delighted with their ramp.  Actually, it’s just a box that Ernest built.  It’s long enough to give them room for a run up onto the bed and half the height of the floor to the top of the bed, so it lets them jump up on the bed in stages.

This solves the problem of jumping up on the bed; unfortunately, neither of them uses it for getting off the bed.  So I’m still trying to lift them down whenever I can.  With Oreo being so overweight, lifting him presents a problem for me, but I can manage lifting little Tilly okay, if I’m around when she wants down, This is rare.   I’ll let you know how that goes.  In the meantime, if you have any solutions for this problem, I’d love hearing them.

Do you let your dogs up on the bed with you?
If they are small, is there a problem getting
them up and down from high places?
If you would like to share that story, please
just enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly invites you to “Leave a Comment.”

 

 (Next week watch for My Hero Dog – with Dorky Deb – Part 1)

 

Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14-4.4, April 26, 2014)

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