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.


Victories in the Animal World (and other stuff)

Researching bonding between pets and their pet parents.

Researching bonding between pets and their pet parents.

I’m sorry to let you know that I have still been unable to write a real Puppy Dog Tales story about the three Holy Terrors, or even one about the Adorable Dogly Duo.  I know it is coming, but the grieving isn’t finished yet.  I don’t want to write a lot of tear-jerking articles.  Those get old pretty fast.

I do want to write an article about the grieving process, because I have been quite surprised by mine and have done some research about it to find out why I have responded to Oreo’s passing the way I have.  Pet parents who have gone through a similar experience might find this interesting.

Also coming down the blogging trail in the new, not necessarily improved, but always (I hope) interesting, Puppy Dog Tales will  be articles about other pets, broadening PDT’s horizon to include all animals, although the focus will remain on dogs.

English: American pit bull terrier (named Tutt...

American pit bull terrier (named Tuttle) seated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new book of interest to pet parents, actually probably of interest to all animal lovers, is the story of Galunker, a zany pit bull, who came to the painful realization that he was judged for what people thought he was (vicious and mean) instead of what he really was (sweet and loveable).  The authors, Douglas Anthony Cooper and Dula Yavne, have shown the truth about pit bulls in this charming children’s book, which will be released this month.  In an exclusive interview, co-author Douglas Anthony Cooper tells about the writing of Galunker, why it was necessary and how the story unfolded.

English: East Grand Forks, MN, 04/01/1997 -- D...

East Grand Forks, MN, 04/01/1997 — Dave Pauli of the Humane Society of the United States proudly shows off a rescued pet. Animal rescue operations in the Grand Forks area continued for several days. Photo by: DAVID SAVILLE/FEMA News Photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rescue stories will also play a part in future Puppy Dog Tales editions.  In keeping with this direction and in order to give you something enjoyable to watch in this edition, I am including below a video from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Watching the narrator recount The HSUS’s victories for animals in 2014 and its plans for more applause-worthy efforts in 2015 brought tears to my eyes.  Trite as that sounds, it really happened.  Let’s see if you can get through this video without any eye moisture whatsoever.  As long as they are tears of joy, it’s okay.  I hope you enjoy this.

(Please note that publishing day for Puppy Dog Tales has been changed from Sunday to Tuesday.)

If you have any pet stories you
would like to share, please either
leave your comment below, or
EMAIL me at raya at fantasyfic dot com.

Text copyrighted © 2014 by Sandra
Bell Kirchman. All rights RESERVED.
(Vol. 14.12-1, Dec. 8, 2014)


The Rebirth of Puppy Dog Tales

The Adorable Duo - Tilly Tot (rear left) and Ling Ling (front right). (Photo credit: (c) Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Hello, dear Puppy Dog Tales readers.  If you have read the preceding post, you will know why the month-long hiatus has occurred.  I have done much soul-searching about what to do with the Puppy Dog Tales blog.  As I mentioned before, without Oreo there didn’t seem to be much point.

Ling Ling and Tilly snuggling with Daddy.  Note where LL has placed her little butt.  Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Ling Ling and Tilly snuggling with Daddy. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Anyhow, with the realization of how much help Oreo had been to the entire family during his short life, I decided to continue this blog.  Some of it will be taken up with stories of other dogs.  I will be also sharing some stories of “the three Holy Terrors,” plus new stories on the Terrible Twosome (my new name for Tilly Tot and Ling Ling 🙂 ).

The first story in this new era will be published next Sunday, Nov. 30/14 (Thanksgiving weekend in the States). Thanks for being patient and bearing with me in this hard time, and thanks to all the people who offered comfort, support, and suggestions.  I’m not sure yet what the next story will be, but we’ll get back on track and carry on, and it’ll be fun.

P.S. Many thanks for the tender care that Dr. Audrey Tataryn and her wonderful staff took of Oreo in his last days at Prairie East Veterinary Clinic in Langenburg, Saskatchewan.

If you have any pet stories you
would like to share, please either
leave your comment below, or
email me at raya at fantasyfic dot com.

Text and photos copyrighted
© 2014 by Sandra Bell
Kirchman. All rights reserved.
(Vol. 14.11-1, Nov. 23, 2014)

Tilly Tot’s Story – Part 1

Volume 14-3.4
[ March 29, 2014 ]

I have noted in previous blog posts anecdotes about Tilly Tot, our elderly rescue dog, and the severe trauma she went through before we got her settled in and integrated as part of the family.  For those who haven’t read those earlier stories, my husband and I already had two beloved Shih Tzus for a couple of years before coming upon Tilly Tot and her plight.  However, before we get to the Tilly Tot Story, we have the back-story of Corky, which is interesting and relevant to Tilly’s tale.

The Advent of Corky

Right from the outset when we first got Ling Ling, and then again when we got Oreo, I was adamant that I didn’t want another dog.  Two were quite enough, thank you very much.


Tammy, a JR Terrier-Chihuahua X –same colour as Corky

Then, one day we noticed a cute, smallish dog wandering around the neighbourhood.  He looked to be a cross between a JR terrier and coarse-haired breed of some kind, with a sandy brown coat.  He had been hanging around for about a week, and we were certain that he would be hit by a car.  We couldn’t stand the uncertainty anymore and finally took him in.

He was obedient, quiet, and much subdued.  We checked around the neighbourhood and at the Town Office to see if anyone was missing a pet.  He had a collar on but no dog tag, and we had no luck finding an owner.  If ever a dog cried for someone to love him and vice versa, it was this one.  For no good reason, I named him Corky…it just seemed to suit him.

Falling in Love with Corky

We took him to the vet to get his shots and arranged to have him neutered the following week.  The vet bill for the shots was around $70, and the neutering would be even more, but we were willing to go for it because, guess what?  I had fallen totally in love with the gentle, loveable Corky.

He got along with Ling Ling and Oreo just fine, although he was bigger.  Almost as importantly, he fit okay through the doggie door system we have going into the back yard.  I vowed that the sadness I sensed in him would succumb to the love we showered upon him, and he would just have to be joyous again.


Jack Russell Terrier-Poodle cross – has a face similar to Corky’s

Jack Russell Terrier-Poodle cross – has a face similar to Corky’s

The day before we were to take Corky to the vet for the big snip, a man and a boy came to the door.  The man had heard that we had taken in his son’s dog and wanted the dog back.  My husband talked to him, then came back into the house and told me about it.  I began to cry.  I knew that we had lost Corky.  Ernest took Corky into the garage.  He described the scene to me later.

The dog followed him obediently into the garage.  Suddenly he exploded into a furry ball of energy and silently hurled himself at the boy.  The boy cried out, “Cricket!” which turned out to be the dog’s real name—note the similarity of sound between the two names—fell to both knees and hugged the dog fiercely.  Corky…er, Cricket was crying doggy tears and licking the boy’s face as fast as his little tongue would go.  I probably would have bawled harder if I had witnessed their reunion.

Cricket/Corky walked out of the house with the man and the boy and out of our lives.


I cried for three days.  I had never bonded with a dog so quickly and thoroughly.  I told Ernest sorrowfully that we were not ever going to pick up any more strays.  It hurt too much when the owners came to collect them.

Tilly Tot:  “I doesn’t feel good, Mommy.”

Tilly Tot: “I doesn’t feel good, Mommy.”

Enter Tilly Tot

Two weeks later, Tilly Tot came into our lives via our neighbour across the street.  He had seen our Shih Tzus and thought perhaps this little dog was one of ours.  Watch next week’s column for the tale of Tilly Tot’s trauma, rescue, and resurrection.


How about you?  Have you ever taken in a stray dog or cat?
Did you keep it or turn it into a pet shelter?
Did the rightful owner come to collect the pet?  How did you feel?
Just enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”


 (Next week watch for Part 2 of “Tilly Tot’s Story”)


Copyright © 2013 by
Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved.



Enhanced by Zemanta

Pee Pads and Pooches

Volume 14-2.2
February 9, 2014

Outdoor toilet for doggies in the winter.  Brrrr.  Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Outdoor toilet for doggies in the winter. Brrrr. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

The Most Valuable Thing

You want to know what is the most valuable thing in the world to a Shih Tzu parent?  You’re probably going to say a good vet, or a good dog walker, or a good groomer (that’s second most valuable).  But the most valuable thing in the world is…pee pads.  Whoever invented these should receive a knighthood at the very least.  Let me explain.

When Ling Ling was a wee puppy, just a few weeks old, we lived in a condominium, no back yard, but with a totally fenced and completely cement-block-surfaced front terrace.  We didn’t want to be cleaning up wee poops and pees in the house, but it was hard to force the poor little dog outside in the tempestuous weather we were having at the time.

So Ernest and I bought pee pads.

Training, the Easy Way

It was amazingly easy to train Ling Ling to the pee pad.  Once she saw it, and once we put her on it a few times after she peed somewhere else, she caught on quickly.  From then on she was totally trained to a pee pad.  This made it absolutely a breeze to take her traveling with us.  As a matter of fact, we cleared a space in our van in the back to put her bed and toys; we also placed a pee pad at the edge of the space.  She used it as necessary, and we never had to worry about stopping to let her out for potty breaks.

I do believe that we might have the only dog in existence who will play outside in the grass, then run into the garage to use the pee pad and rush outside again to continue playing.  We aren’t messing with that habit either.

Nearly two years later when Oreo joined us, Ling Ling was the one to train him to use the pee pad, which by now was kept in our garage.  Ernest put a doggie door from the back foyer into the attached garage and then another one from the back of the garage to the back yard.  Thus, it was easy for the dogs to get into the garage whenever they wanted.


“At least I’ll look nice when I’m freezing my butt off going potty.” Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Oreo wasn’t quite as devoted to pee pads as Ling Ling.  He preferred to use the great outdoors.  But in 30 below weather he was quite happy to use them.

Sometime later, we rescued Tilly Tot.  She is an older dog and thoroughly house trained.  We didn’t want to break her of the habit of going outside because we thought it would confuse her.  However, I have a hunch, which I can’t prove yet, that she has used the pee pad on really cold days.  We’ll have to see.  On days like pictured above, I can just imagine her saying, “You want me to go WHERE to pee?”

Unexpected Christmas Presents

There are some drawbacks to this wonderful practice, though.  It was shortly after we moved to our present home in Esterhazy.  It was Ling Ling’s first Christmas, and she was thrilled with all the decorations and the mysterious excitement circulating through the house.  We finally put the tree up and stood back to admire it.  Then Ernest reached in and laid the beautiful white cloth decorated with shining stars around the base of the tree.  Of course, we had no presents wrapped yet to go under the tree, but we were satisfied with our job and went to bed.

"I am sooo embarrassed!"  Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton

“I am sooo embarrassed!” Photo credit: Laurie Hamilton

The next morning, I heard peals of male laughter from the living room.  I jumped out of bed and ran down the hall to where I heard the hilarity.  Ernest stood there, still laughing, and pointed to the base cloth under the Christmas tree.  Deposited on it with careful precision were two round pee spots and one largish clump of Shih Tzu poo.  I joined in the laughter.  Ling Ling had mistaken the cloth in all its white glory for a pee pad.

We disposed of the Christmas tree-skirt-turned-pee-pad and purchased another one that day.  This cloth was a startlingly bright red, with flashy green mitts and sprightly-looking, brown squirrels appliquéd onto it.  We judged it right, and that tree skirt has survived, unsullied, every  Christmas ever since.

Great Dane

Note1 One little addendum that will make a big difference to this story.  Shih Tzus stay relatively small (between approx. 9 to 16 lbs.) and can keep on using puppy pee pads after reaching full maturity.  Don’t try this with Great Danes!

How about your puppy?  Did (or do) you have issues with keeping your home unsullied?
We’d love to hear any funny stories you have about you, your pet(s) and potty training.
Just enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 (Next week watch for “Praise for Shelter Pets”)

Note2:  Apparently the Contact Form was causing confusion, so I have removed it.  Please just leave your comments in the Comments section.  If you  have something you wish to communicate to me privately you can email me at sandrakirchman at sasktel dot com.

Copyright © 2013 by
Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dog Names (or Fertilizer Is Highly Overrated) – Part 2

Volume 14-1.1
January  4, 2014

Oreo Blizzard

Baby Oreo with his soulful look.  Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman

Baby Oreo with his soulful look. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Oreo didn’t come to us until he was six months old.  Thus he had already been registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.  His official name is Rhosymedre’s Oreo Blizzard out of Sorensen Tannis at Rhosymedre by Puppiesinabox Harley Davis Son (USA). We were offered the choice of changing his name when we got him, but we decided not to.  After six months, he was used to his name, which would be the only thing he would have that would be familiar to him.

His looks reveal the reason for the name.  He has a dark face, plush wavy hair of light brown and gray, and patches of white throughout.  It’s also fun to say, “ Ohhhh-reeee-ohhhh.”  Oreo answers to his nicknames of Buddy, Fat Boy (I try to discourage the use of this one), Da Man (who is in charge of Da Wimmins – sometimes I don’t understand men), Cuddles, and Baby.

Tilly Tot

Finally, we come to our elderly rescue shih tzu.  Well, we don’t know for sure that she is a purebred shih tzu.  However, we strongly suspect that she was used for breeding, and usually these dogs are purebred.  Our neighbour across the street found this dog in desperate circumstances.  He brought her to us because he knew we had shih tzus.  If ever a dog needed rescue, it was this 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

Tilly is a little blond, with the sweetest face you’ve ever seen.  She has enough courage to attack three lions if necessary, and yet is quiet and grateful and loving.

Why did I name her Tilly Tot?  This is where I get to eat crow (see Part 1).  Contrary to what I said at the beginning, I wasn’t thinking of Tilly’s probable blue-blooded ancestry, but rather how sweet she was and how small, much smaller than the other two.  The name Tilly Tot popped into my mind.  I didn’t question it, just tried it on her.  She seemed okay with it, so Tilly Tot it was, along with nicknames of Tiddlywinks, Little Snot (Ernest’s contribution), Little Girl, Sweetheart, and Baby.

All three are named Baby, you exclaim?  Yup.  When I need to differentiate, I’ll say Baby Ling Ling or Baby Oreo or Baby Tilly.  But if I’m just talking to one of them, I’ll usually say Baby.  All three of them seem content with this arrangement.

And finally, the piece de resistance, their nicknames as a group.  No, we don’t call them the shih tzu imperials or the royal household.  Because of Ernest, we have wound up calling them “the rodents,” or “the muttlies.”  I think the last one is such a cute term.  But again, I’m eating crow.

And if you ever happen to mention gypsies to the muttlies, don’t be surprised at the alarmed look on their little faces.  No, no, gypsies aren’t bad guys.  But when LingLing was little and got too rambunctious, we would let her know that we could phone the gypsies to come and get her.

Just recently, Ernest warned the three of them that we still had the gypsies on speed dial.  They  quietened down immediately.

(See last week’s post:  Dog Names – Part 1

(Next week watch for Eating Habits of a Princess)

Send your dog or cat stories to Sandra using
the Puppy Dog Tales Contact Form below.
(Note:  Erase any content already in the form and
insert your own information.)


Copyright © 2013 by
Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved.


Introduction to Puppy Dog Tales

Volume 13-12.1
[ December 21, 2013 ]

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling:  "Yes, we're quite comfortable, thank you for asking."

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling: “Yes, we’re quite comfortable, thank you for asking.”

Do ya love dogs?  Are animals of the canine persuasion your furry friends and/or family?  Would you walk a mile for a corgi?  Well, hopefully you’re in the right place.  This column is for dog lovers primarily,  with a bit of cat thrown in.  No, no, we don’t throw cats around.  I meant, you know, we’ll also be discussing the wee furry aliens with the big meows who are trying to become masters of the universe.

Since I know them best, a lot of stories will feature the adventures of Tilly Tot, Oreo Blizzard, and Ling Ling, the three shih tzus that live with me and my husband.  Hopefully, we’ll also have some stories from you, the reader and devoted doggie parent/owner/admirer.

In addition, we will manage to work in bits of information from dog care to highlights of dogdom, to the strange and wonderful in the pet world, to contests, to what to do with an injured dog, to rescue animals, service animals, the therapeutic value of animals, to the antics of your pets (cats are especially skilled at this to, I suspect, lull us into a false sense of security), to how your dog can actually help you when you are hurt or sick and how s/he can heal you.

I promise you it will be fun.

We have the ear of a veterinarian, Dr. Kent Weir…well, no, we don’t have his ear; that would be gross.  I mean, he has agreed to help us out with this column, so that is something to look forward to as well.

Pic #1C - catHere’s the thing.  If you would like to tell the world about your dog (or cat), use our contact form to share your story.  We will be in touch with you about any picture(s) you have to go with it.

Unless you are a veterinarian or a trained vet assistant, be cautious in what you recommend re pet health in your story.  It’s perfectly fine to share your experience, however.  And that’s what we are looking for.

This promises to be a fun adventure, with lots of pictures and lively stories.  If you love dogs and stories about them, this may be something short and sweet for you to read.

 (Next week watch for Part 1 of “Dog Names”)

Send your dog or cat stories to Sandra using
the Puppy Dog Tales Contact Form below.
Please erase my info and fill in your own 🙂


Copyright © 2013 by
Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved. 

Enhanced by Zemanta