S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
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S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
Freckle is the “Queen of Everything” at the Bromley home. The title was self-imposed at an early age, and she has managed to maintain her status despite the attempts of several challengers. At the age of eleven (80-something in human equivalent), she is slowing down, but in good health and pretty. (The “pretty” part is important since she is slightly vain!) Tell her that she is a bit over-weight, and she simply sneezes and looks at you. You can almost hear her say: “Look in the mirror.” Part of her grooming ritual is the phrase “you look pretty!” She immediately turns into a puppy again. She struts her stuff and hops to the door: “It is time for you to take me someplace--I look good!”
When we moved to this house five years ago, the neighbor who would become our close friend was hoping that the long silent house would be home to a family with kids and a dog. Well, she got her wish! We moved in with three teens, five-or-so Shih Tzu, two rabbits, and a big container of fish for the pond! Carol respected living things by profession as a biology teacher, but would tell you that she was NOT a ‘dog person’. Freckle sensed this and decided in her canine, mind that this Carol-person would be her very own challenge. Every time Carol came over to visit, Freckle was sure to do every doggie trick to get noticed. Carol always gave her an ear rub and happy-voice compliments as to how “pretty” she was’. (There’s that key word again: “Pretty”)
We aren’t quite sure how it happened, but Carol and Freckle became fast friends. Carol may have never wanted a dog, but she got one anyway. She called her “Love Puppy”. For Freckle, Carol’s house was a wonderful haven where she could go for a respite from pesky puppies and special time to be a one-and-only dog for an afternoon. Carol would come home from a stressful day of teaching, stopping by to take “Love Puppy”, a.k.a. Freckle home with her. We know the healing properties of dogs. Carol was finding it too. Soon this time was called “Old Girls Club”. Carol would serve chicken in a small crystal bowl to her friend while they watched the news together. Carol attempted to grade papers, but usually stopped to just sit and stroke Freckle. She didn’t get much done, but when Freckle was returned back home, you could tell that the stresses of the day had melted. If Freckle saw Carol in the yard she would run as fast as she could to get there before the other dogs or I knew she was gone. Carol was HERS. Freckle didn’t want to share! She would plant herself in front so no other dogs could get close. One evening, I couldn’t find Freckle anywhere. I thought I had brought everyone in. I looked through the whole house and called her name and looked outside. Where could she be? Of course, Carol’s! Freckle was sitting on deck in the dark, hoping Carol would see her and invite her in.
These two have a very special relationship, especially since they are friends, not daily companions. Last year, Carol made a very difficult decision to leave teaching and care for her elderly father. The move was difficult in all aspects, but one night as we talked about it all, she said that one of the hardest things to leave was Freckle. How could she let a dog know that she was moving, that there would be somebody else in “Carol’s House”? Would Freckle miss her? How could she understand?
Freckle had met her challenge. She had shown a bonafide “non-dog-person” the joys of canine friendship. We talked about the possibility of Freckle moving with Carol to the condo. Carol was the one person with whom we would let Freckle go. We knew that both would be happy---especially Freckle, as she would have “her Carol” everyday. It was decided that this wouldn’t work well, but Carol makes frequent trips to see her friends in Belding, especially her “Love Puppy”. Our family misses Carol. The one who misses her most, is her faithful companion, Freckle. It tugs at your heart when you see this little old dog standing at the edge of the yard now and then, still hopeful for a glimpse of her beloved Carol.
A new neighbor, a single man, lives there now. Freckle ‘met’ him, and even tried to get him to take her in the house---probably hoping that Carol was in there someplace. I think that as the time has passed, Freckle knows that her friend is gone even though we still find her looking longingly at “Carol’s House”, remembering good times there. Our daughter, Jenna, has been known to email Carol on Freckle’s behalf, letting her know that it is time for a visit: “ Freckle looks sad”. Just as Cinderella turns into a princess, Freckle turns into a puppy for a short time when her friend appears in the doorway. The love in Freckle’s eyes for “her Carol” and the softness in Carol’s face for her “Love Puppy” are outward signs of what real, true friendship can do.
Freckle was my first attempt at showing. We had a LONG way to go. (If you ask Freckle, it was ME who had things to learn--SHE, of course, was perfect!) She gave us lovely babies and has been the grandma-dog who teaches manners to the puppies. She has always been wise and bold. If I learned one thing in my life with her, it is: HOME IS WHERE YOUR FOOD DISH IS. In the canine mind, this means that it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as there is a meal, and the people who love you are there.
This lesson was important when we were moving from our home of 23 years to our current residence. Freckle was with me when I made the last pass through the old house. The day was rainy and cold. The house was empty of our life there. I was rather sad. Freckle hopped to the door with her happy “let’s go” attitude. She helped me close the door to one life and look to the possibilities of another. In her canine wisdom, she knew that everything we held dear was at the other house. And besides, it was time to fix supper, and our dishes were not here! AND, maybe that Carol-person just might stop by!
A life without dogs?! (Shih Tzu in particular!)------would not have this special richness. Ask Carol. I’m sure that she would agree, that even if the dog is not yours, life is better with the love of a “love puppy”.