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 . . .
Many of my best friends are canines. They are the extra-special clients who come into our clinic, the dogs of friends and family, and, of course, my own family of Shih Tzu.

But, this piece belongs to some special friends. They know who they are, and I wish you could, too. (Maybe you already do-or at least, someone like them!)

Dogs have always been my favorite of all the companion animals. When I finally stumbled onto this lovely breed know as “Shih Tzu” it was the fall of a lifetime. It all began quite normally-obtaining a small dog to share our home. As many stories go, one dog made room for another, and then, three was possible, and maybe a litter (?), and “Keep one?”-of course!! This beautiful breed is so loving, adaptable, and easy to live with, there is always room for on more!! Sincere interest in the breed gave way to a study of its origins, local and national club membership, thoughts of some exhibiting and on and on and on. The “fever” that just wouldn’t go away came to be know as “Mom’s Dog Thing”-and we have just learned to live with it. (There ARE worse maladies-this one makes you smile at least!)

Besides the joy of sharing this lifetime with special canine friends, the best part of “Mom’s Dog Thing” is the side effect known as “Mom’s Dog Friends.” My family knows them all by voice and knows, too, that the phone just might be tied up for awhile. Each one is special to my life in their own way; each one I am proud to call “my friend.” I feel rich, indeed, to have this treasure of friendship. We take care of each other. Friends are there for anything, not just dog related but life related. If someone is sad or proud, dealing with a broken washer or family crises, a sick puppy or a broken heart, someone will listen. And, sometimes, that is all it takes-someone to listen. None of my friends are in my local phone service-the phone companies love us, but in times of crisis, the distance just doesn’t seem to matter. (There have been occasions when time hasn’t mattered! Dog people are always up “after hours” doing something!) I am also fortunate to have an extra time zone that gives an additional three hours!! When I needed my Oregon friend, 1:00 AM Michigan time, it was only 10:00 PM her time. She held my hand long distance through a difficult whelping while the rest of the world slept. (Thanks, Connie!)

When I was hesitant to attend my first dog show, there was another friend, giving me the confidence to try and offering a place in her van to ride along. The show scene can be so hostile to a newcomer, but I was lucky to find this successful exhibitor who hadn’t forgotten what it was like to be “new.” She encouraged, pushed, and made me feel like I belonged. Maybe, if there were more people like her, there would be a few more newcomers to challenge this game. (Thanks, Linda!)

In the very beginning, when I first began looking for a nice Shih Tzu for a pet, I found a local breeder who had done a good share of winning that gave me a start and answered all of those new owner questions. He planted the seed for this journey when he used the term, “show prospect puppy,” for the one that we purchased. (Thanks, Jim!)

When I decided to try a quality breeding, I wrote a letter to the secretary of the local club in Michigan. The response was warm and encouraging. When I met her for the first time, my family and I spent three hours of her day just “playing puppies and talking”. I consider her to be my mentor but most of all, a dear and treasured friend. I am proud to have dogs of her breeding as the foundation in my breeding program. She reminds us to “always follow your heart…” She also introduced me to another part of me that I would have never found without her, my soul-sister, Sally. She knew that we would be a match for each other. She was right, as usual. (Thanks, Joyce!)

It is hard to explain this “soul-sister” relationship that Sally and I have-it is very special and seldom seen between people today. Our husbands think it is crazy. Maybe it is, but it works for us. Maybe it was written in the stars that our paths in life would cross-our June birthdays are a day apart; our husbands share the SAME day for theirs. (This was hard to believe!) We think that we are lucky to have met at a time when there is still time to have fun. We are friends in dogs, that is true. We share similar values, eye for what we like and have found that we work well together. Recently, we combined our efforts into one force. Together, we are realizing dreams come true that may not have happened so soon, each on our own.

If the day were to come, that one or both of us had no dogs (Heaven forbid!!!), we would still have a wonderful friendship. We are alike in many ways and different enough in others to keep it interesting and fun. We seldom disagree-but each has the confidence in our friendship to be able to voice her opinion. We have shared many tears, thoughts and problems. Sometimes, we need to remind each other that “it isn’t the end of the world-just a minor inconvenience.” When we celebrate-what a time we have-good food and good wine! We even shared a “vacation” with 22 dogs-(“Did you let out ___?”).

Other times were spent digging in a garden, helping put up ceiling tile, cutting down a huge pine tree. Without these good friends, we never would have gotten into our new home. (Dick is very good at electrical and plumbing work! Some people consider “getting away from it all” to be the best vacation. For us, it is good time spent with good friends.

There have been many great friendships in this sport of dogs but just as many hard feeling. I hope that in reading this, you are reminded of some of the good relationships you have made along the way. I hope that you can think of at least one that you can truly call, “friend.” A good friendship is truly a gift to be nurtured and cared for and never taken lightly. And if you are so lucky as to have more than one, you are truly blessed. This sport can be hard, cold and disappointing, but one good friend can make a difference.

And isn’t this true of the everyday world, too?
Shih Tzu