Not only were we “just looking”, we were “just looking” for a cat. I don’t even know why we were at the pet store at all. If we were actually in the market for a cat, then we would have been at the animal shelter or some rescue organization. We knew better than to go to a pet store to buy a cat. So why were we there?
I still can’t answer that question, but while I was dutifully looking at cats as I’d been told to, Bill wandered over to the puppy department and fell in love with a Shih Tzu. Do you know how much a pure bred Shih Tzu with papers costs at a pet store? My husband, who will spend a year shopping for a toaster, comparing features, ratings and prices, went into a pet store and plunked down several hundred dollars for a puppy, on a whim. I’m so glad he did!
Love at First Lick!
This darling little piece of fur was in a glass case and as soon as Bill came into view she jumped up, put her paws on the glass and started licking. An hour or so and hundreds of dollars later she was snuggled in my arms headed home.
We named her Precious because, between the time Bill first saw her and when he pulled out his credit card, he must of said “Precious” about three million times. It reminded me of Gollum stroking the ring of power and saying, “My Precious.” When Bill asked what we should name her, I told her him she already recognized her name, Precious. I didn’t tell him about the Lord of the Rings reference.
For the next fifteen years, Precious earned her name every single day. The name wasn’t the only thing that stuck. Licking the glass had been such an effective ploy that she kept at licking all day, every single day. Bill spent the next fifteen and a half years trying to break her licking habit. I’m sure the command she heard more than any other was, “No licking.” Not that she paid any more attention to it than she did the other commands we pretended to give her.
Precious’ First Days
Bill and I were both besotted with Precious from the very first moment, but we really tried to be good pet owners. The pet store guy told us she would be a little lonely that first night and would make noise, but we were not under any circumstances to give in to her.
Do you know what a lonely Shih Tzu puppy sounds like? Finally, in the wee hours I could stand it no more. I got out of bed, but Bill threatened to take my life if I picked that puppy up – so I didn’t. Instead I took her a stuffed toy, the tiger you see in the picture above. She immediately snuggled up to it. She quieted down and was never a minute of trouble from that moment on. (Well, that’s not exactly the truth, but she never made noise at night, again.)
Then we nearly killed her, inadvertently. After we’d had her for about a week, she was quite greasy – probably from all the licking. We decided to wash her. I was concerned about what would be the proper cleaning solution, but Bill said we should just use a little soap. We washed her and her silky hair dried almost immediately. She seemed fine, until we couldn’t get her to eat anything. Then she passed out. We had nurses across the street from us, human nurses, but we were desperate. They got her going again. We called the vet and discovered what we’d done wrong. She was off food for a few days, but would drink milk. It was a close call, but she was a brave little girl.
Our High Maintenance Pooch
A Shih Tzu is a high maintenance dog. We really didn’t know that when we bought her. I just knew they were reputed to have the absolute best disposition of any dog in the world. That part was completely true, but there were other issues, like potty training, stubbornness and grooming.
Female Shih Tzus have a little problem. They really don’t develop the muscles necessary to control their bladder until they are about a year old. The trick is to take them out frequently to pee and we did that, but for that first year we also cleaned up a lot of accidents.
Precious figured out pretty quickly that the longer she put off going to the bathroom on one of our necessary outings, the longer she could be outside sniffing (and licking) the world. For the first year of her life, I spent a lot of time circling our cul de sac saying, “Precious pee-pee poo-poo outside.” I bet our neighbors got very tired of it.
Then there was all that hair. Bill groaned and clutched at his pocketbook every time I mentioned the groomer. Precious didn’t have a pocketbook, but she pretty much hated going. She also hated brushing with a passion. She spent more time than she should have looking like an orphan, but her mommy couldn’t stand to put her through anything she didn’t enjoy doing. Other people probably thought her shagginess was a sign of neglect. Precious and I knew it was all about love.
Now She’s Gone
After fifteen and a half years of being the apple of my eye, Precious slipped from this life on Saturday. Indulge me over the next few weeks as I share some moments from her joyful life.