S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
Graphics courtesy of:
S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
It could be considered the “National Pastime.” Stamps, rocks, cut-glass, antiques, marbles, Precious Moments figures, Hummel figures, Waterford Crystal, paintings, Beanie Babies, you name it; someone collects it. I happen to like antiques and cut glass. For years, I went to any antique show or store I found to look for another “must have” piece to add to my collection. I researched and read everything I could find on the periods, the pieces that were most valuable and the artists that created these masterpieces. It was great fun and excitement to acquire a new “must have.” Soon, our home became overcrowded with all the items being added to my collections. Finally, Dick looked around and said, “Enough! There isn’t room for us anymore.” My collecting had to stop. I didn’t even have enough time to dust the “must-haves” and keep up with my more important duties as a wife, mother and full-time teacher. Somehow, I managed to curb my obsessive nature and stop collecting. It was time to just look at the pretty things and enjoy them.

My husband is a pack-rat. He can’t throw anything away. We might need “the whatever” sometime in the next 20 or so years. I just wait until he’s gone for a few hours, clean out a drawer or closet and quickly pitch it all in a trash bag. He doesn’t even know what he’s missing and usually doesn’t ever need it again. It’s just that “collecting” thing again. Each of us has a different “quirk” that we must live with or without, whatever the case may be. Human nature is a strange phenomenon.

Yes, collecting is great fun! Now, that I’ve “gone to the dogs,” as my kids call it, there is, yet, another chance to collect. The puppies are so cute, so loveable, so special. Every one of them is unique. Our first girl, Lili, who began this Shih Tzu craze; Mr. Beau, so fragile due to health problems; Dandi, our first showgirl; Mowgli, our first Champion; Shugz and Betsy, our first mama girls; Orie, our first bred-by Champion; Rush, our first “specials” boy; Hunter and Mira, the current show kids; Tess and Raven, our “N/N” girls; Kate, Aerial, Cygnet, Annie, Libby, Scarlet, Zeus-the list could go on and on as the collecting becomes a sickness. There isn’t time to give each one the attention they deserve nor the care they need. Add to that the cost of food, grooming products, vet care, clean up, crates, and accessories and the “national debt” might be a good comparison.

I’ve just personally witnessed a terrible case of “collecting.” Fifty plus Shih Tzu, some came from reputable breeders that we all know. Fifty plus Shih Tzu with pedigrees that would be an asset to any program and certainly allow wonderful bragging rights. Fifty plus Shih Tzu housed in a small shed-type building, eleven to a 2 x 3 without appropriate heat, air conditioning or ventilation. Fifty plus Tzus in dire need of a bath, grooming, attention, food and medical care. Fifty plus Tzus needing love, cuddling, and human contact. The babies I saw at that animal shelter couldn’t be invited into anyone’s home due to the odor emitted from each of them. They obviously hadn’t seen any shampoo in months nor been combed or brushed in equally that long. How could such an atrocity happen? Easy!!! Just keep collecting.

My husband would keep each one and complain about how much time it takes to care for them. He frets about the numbers, but doesn’t want to place “his special kids.”

It is hard to let them go. I’ll be the first to admit it. You whelp, dream, love, care, show, breed and learn each one’s characteristics. Surely, no one can take care of them as well as we can. BUT…is that fair to these precious little Tzus? Doesn’t each one deserve its own special home to be loved, pampered, walked, and taken places as an “only dog” in the family? Doesn’t each one deserve the chance of a “real life” away from the hassles of the show ring, away from the group of dogs we live with, from the need to vie for attention among so many other dogs? After they’ve finished, been bred and produced some nice babies for us to continue on with, don’t they deserve to be just a dog? I think so.

I won’t negate that the tears flow once that special home has been found. I become very attached to each of my kids. How can anyone know them the way I do? They probably can’t. However, they will learn the other side of that special dog as it adjusts to their home and life. They will appreciate the unique qualities that have emerged from the experiences of being a show-dog who is well-socialized and happy. Will it all be perfect? Probably not. Will it be an easy transition? Hopefully so. Will the older dog be happy and adjust? Usually, the answer is yes, yes, yes!!!

We’ve placed many a “show-dog” already. We’ve had many happy families tell us how wonderful these kids are and how happy they’ve made their new owners. We’ve given those special dogs a lease on life that we can’t provide and keep “collecting” more kids to show, breed and love. I guess if there is a downside to this show thing, this is it. We can’t keep “collecting” without eliminating, especially when dealing with living creatures. They are not inanimate “dustables.”

A recent letter from our Kate’s new owners verifies just how wonderful her new life really is. As you read it, think about your kids. Once they have given their all for you, don’t they deserve your all for them, even if it means letting them go? Do you love them enough for that? It’s something to think about.

I think this says it all:

“Hi Sally!

Kate is a riot. She was given the wrong name, however. It should be Shadow, or better yet, Barb’s Shadow. I can’t go anywhere that she isn’t right behind me. It’s making the rest of the family kind of jealous. Since I last e-mailed, she has had a number of adventures. Saturday night we took her to Grand Haven and walked on the pier and through town. She had many admiring glances. She kind of pooped out and we carried her a lot. There was a lot of foot and car traffic, which also made me nervous, so she got carried some more. She has also had some walks through the neighborhood and it amazes us that she never goes potty when she’s walking on the leash. She has been a good eater.

We just can’t get over what a little lady she is. She is so laid back and calm. The occasional neighborhood firecrackers that have been going off haven’t bothered her a bit.

As I am writing this, she is lying on the floor next to me. Your little Kate is the center of attention in this house and has charmed everyone. She seems to be doing extremely well and is making me feel very needed. One of the rest of my family needs me!

Take care.

Barb and Kate”