This weekend was my American grandmother’s 96th birthday. I made a cake and I brought Gracie over to visit my grandma, and she had a blast. My grandma loved her too!
But then again, who can resist such an adorable sweet face? My little Gracie is growing up so, so fast. I feel like she’s getting bigger every second! She still looks like a guinea pig from far away — the size of one anyway.
I love her little one!
Finding the perfect name for my puppy has been very difficult. Every since I’ve had her (less than a week), I just haven’t been able to give her a good name. I’ve tried everything — looking at baby name books, browsing the web for dogs names, asking friends for advice, etc. — but I just haven’t been able to come up with anything.
When she first arrived home, I started calling her Sydney. (The name I’ve always wanted to give my daughter). But after sending out picture messages to my friends, no one thought she looked like a Sydney. So I went back to the drawing board. Then, Jarold and I started discussing names… The ones I liked, he didn’t. He wanted to name her Samantha, Sam for short. But since we’d be calling her Sam most of the time… I didn’t want to name my puppy a boy’s name. We thought about going back to calling her Taylor, but she just doesn’t look like a Taylor.
She does look very much like a Panda bear… And I thought of calling her “Panda,” but again, that is a boy’s name. She’s black and white, so a few of my friends on facebook suggested “Oreo.” Or even “Pandora”(combination of Panda in a female name). But again, this just didn’t fit.
I saw her adorable face, and I simply felt that I had to name her a sweet, delicate name. She is so adorable that she needed a very girlie name. I finally settled on Sophie. We tried that for a day, but Jarold suggested we kept looking. Then last night, I decided that she would become Gracie Lu. (My black cat’s name is Luka Lu). So that’s her current name… I think it might stick this time. Doesn’t she look like a Gracie to you?
It’s been quite a journey, trying to find the perfect shih tzu puppy. At first, I searched at local shelters, human societies, and pet adoption centers — as these are the cheapest ways to get a puppy — but alas, they did not have any puppies that I was in love with. Many of the dogs available for adoption were too large, or the breeds available did not fit my lifestyle. I needed a smaller dog.
For a brief week, I seriously considered finding a Yorkie or Maltese. Both of these dog breeds are small and would be perfect for apartment living. But I still kept going back to wanting a shih-tzu puppy. I knew in the back of my head, and in my heart, that I would not be satisfied with any other breed of dog. Since this would be a lifelong commitment — for the next 15 years or so — I wanted the dog I picked to be perfect. I didn’t want to wait another ten or fifteen years to get the shih tzu puppy I wanted!
Jarold tried to persuade me to find a young adult puppy, a year or older. One that had been potty trained. Since I had no experience with raising a puppy, or a dog for that matter, this was indeed the smarter choice. (He is very smart about these things… If only I wasn’t so stubborn and impatient!)
I had my heart set on a puppy. I wanted to raise something from the time they were little until they got older. They would always be my baby. I felt that bonding would be stronger between the two of us… I would have those fond memories of their childhood. (I guess it’s my strange way of having a baby without having a baby, if that makes sense!)
After several weeks of searching local shelters and rescue places, I just couldn’t find the age that I wanted. I decided to go online and look at breeders. I contacted several places that I found online and in the local newspapers. I checked out prices — some were as high as 600 or 700 dollars, and others on the low end of 100. Some places had health guarantees; others didn’t.
Due to the instability of my current job, I was not going to fork over an arm and a leg for a dog. So Jarold and I talked about it, and he persuaded me to get a dog for $300 or less.
Finally, I spoke to a lady in Alabama about adopting one of her male shih tzus. He was simply the cutest thing in the world. He was brown, white, with a bit of black. His picture is below:
Isn’t he cute? I had already picked out a name for him — Taylor Hanson Lee. He only cost $300 with a one year health guarantee in the event that he died fro a genetic disease. But the problem was that this lady also bred about seven other types of dogs. She was very nice and answered all my questions.
I was all set out to buy this puppy from her… Until I just happened to search in the classified and saw this adorable little girl for $300.
Girls are typically more expensive than boys. But I just felt that she was too adorable to pass up. So I contacted the couple that was selling her and agreed to meet them. They were not traditional breeders. They owned shih tzu dogs, and only breed shih tzu dogs. I liked the living conditions of the puppies, and the couple that was selling this female dog was very, very nice and kind. They gave me the veterinarian records, their contact information should I have any questions. And they answered all my questions — even the silly ones.
The second that I picked her up, she started licking my face. She did whimper a bit, but I think it was because I was a stranger to her. But once she started licking my face, she calmed down. I sat down and she fell asleep on my lap. A dream come true.
I paid the couple and bought my little girl home. She slept with me that first night and did not whine or whimper. I am just in love with her! I named her Sophie… But that name may change. I am still undecided. But for now, she is my Sophie pie.
Some photos of Sophie…
Stay tuned to learn all about Sophie’s life with her new mama!
While I was waiting to find the perfect dog, I decided to be a foster mom to this adorable puppy. I named her “Honey,” but I’m sure that her new owners will give her a new name. (I found out that she was adopted today! Yay! I’m so happy to hear that)
She was a sweetheart, but an absolute handful. She was five or six months, and a boxer mix. So she was a pretty large dog — to me, she was anyway. She was absolutely not potty trained, and the rescue shelter did not want me to crate train her. (Big mistake of mine even agreeing to foster her without crate training!) Because I had no experience with dogs or puppies at this point, I thought fostering would be a wonderful opportunity for me to learn how to take care of a dog… Which would have been fine, if I had been able to crate train Honey.
The rescue shelter (which shall be nameless) was owned by a very manipulative lady, who also did not tell me that Honey had fleas . . . or worms. She also had a spot on her back, which may have been mange. I was also not allowed to take Honey outdoors to go potty because she had no had all of her shots yet and “if I took her outside, she might get Parvo.”
Honey ended up pooping and peeing all over my apartment — my kitchen, living room, bedroom, closet, and even bed! And she had worms, so I had to vacuum and clean her feces very carefully to prevent Mr. Pumpkin to catching anything. My apartment became infested with fleas, so Mr. Pumpkin and I had to live with my boyfriend temporarily while I flea-bombed my home. It was a nightmarish experience…
You would think that after that experience, it would scare me from wanting a dog. But it didn’t. Despite Honey’s fleas and worms, she was simply the sweetest dog. She greeted you at the door, wanted to be near me at all times. She loved playing catch in the apartment. I simply loved having her company and being near her.
Returning her to the rescue shelter was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to do. She sat in the car so patiently in the back seat, and my heart broke into a million pieces. As much as she did not fit into my lifestyle — she was simply too big — I still fell in love with her.
After that experience, I decided that I could no longer foster a dog. It’s simply too hard for me, being the animal lover that I am, to foster dogs. Giving them up is way too difficult.
It took me a month to recover from having honey with me every day. I missed her every day, and I will always miss her. But once I was finally recovered, the search for my perfect shih tzu began again.
Every since I was a little girl, I have wanted a puppy. There was just something cuddly and cute about puppies. Since I was a “Full House” (90s sitcom) fanatic as a child, I wanted a golden retriever at a young age. (For those of you who don’t watch that fabulous show, the family owned a golden retriever named Comet). Eventually, one of my friends adopted a golden retriever and I realized how big they get. So that breed was not for me. (Though if I had a family and a huge yard, I would consider getting one!)
Eventually, when I became a teenager, I became obsessed with wanting a shih tzu. I think I heard a rumor that Hanson (my favorite band of all time) had owned a shih tzu in the past, but that particular dog accidently ate rat poison and died. Being the Hanson fan that I am, I just simply wanted the same kind of dog that they had. Plus, it turns out shih tzus are simply too adorable! How could I resist? For many, many years, my profile picture was a little brown and white shih tzu puppy. I wanted that breed from that time forward.
I was always the one in the family who wanted to go to the rescue shelters to look at the puppies. In fact, in Nashville, there was an adoption center near my home called Love at First Sight. You have no idea how many times I asked my babysitter to take me to Love at First Sight. Of course, I always wanted to adopt a dog whenever I was there, and I always got a “We have to ask your parents first” in response.
Dogs were a no-no in my family. My dad loves animals, but my mother was a different story. She is OCD and cleans constantly. A shedding furr-ball, no matter how cute, is simply a big fat NO. So, I lived my life without a dog, or any animals for that fact, for many, many years.
When I was in college, I was in a long-term relationship with a man who was allergic to animals. So again, dogs were a big fat NO. However, we did end up adopting a cat together. A little black kitten named Luka Lu Nguyen-Cornelius. Read about how I ended up adopting her HERE.
So after so many NOs, it seemed that my life was doomed to be dog-less. Pretty soon, my dream was squashed and I decided to get over this silly notion of dog ownership.
After my relationship ended, I moved from Nashville to Pulaski, TN for a new job. I did not think of owning a dog. I ended up adopting another cat. (Luka ended up living at my parents’ house. They simply fell in love with her and refused to let her go live with me at my new home.)
The flame-point Siamese cat that currently lives with me — Mr. Pumpkin.
As much as I love Mr. Pumpkin, who does love affection and being petted, he is still not a dog. I still craved the dog companionship. Playing fetch, a lovable pouch who follows you room to room, who enjoys going on walks in the afternoon with you …
One spring morning, my current boyfriend, Jarold, surprised me by taking me to a roadside stand where a backyard breeder was selling shih tzu puppies. It reignited something inside me, and I simply had to have a puppy. It had been too long. This lifelong dream of mine simply had to come true!
This is the shih-tzu puppy I seriously considered adopting that day. But since it was a backyard breeder on the side of the road, I decided I need to do more research into purchasing a shih tzu.
Since that day in April, I have been doing research and just been plain obsessed with finding the perfect shih tzu puppy. It seemed that every day that I was online, looking at shih tzu puppy videos, looking at the classified for ads, googling about the shih tzu breed, and more. Even when I spoke to Jarold on the phone, he ended up getting frustrated and yelling “All we talk about is puppies!”
Finally, last Thursday, June 17th at 7:00 p.m. I met the little girl of my dreams and I ended up buying her. (I know I should’ve helped the shelters by adopting but I wanted a puppy so badly that I simply could not wait. Patience is not a personality trait of mine!)
This is my new little girl….
This blog is dedicated to her, and it will chronicle my adventures as a first time dog owner, raising a shih-tzu puppy.
Learn more about what I went through to find her, and my puppy experience …. including taking in a foster puppy for a few days.