Say hello to the spare dog at my house.
Yes, in many respects, he looks like Moose. Same black and white coloring. Related breeds. Moose was a Lhasa Apso. This little guy is a Shi Tzu. They are cousins and both are compared in ancient Chinese and Tibetan cultures to lions. They are protective creatures and love sitting at the feet of their masters, watching, protecting, observing. Both breeds are intelligent, loyal, and generally very good company.
Oh, and while they’re small, they can be ferocious when their master is threatened. Great big bark and a violent bite in a small package.
This little guy showed up in a dangerous place on Fort Smith’s north side – on the back side of the street department’s property where heavy equipment is stored and transported to and from various construction jobs. Waymon found the scared, grimy pooch and took him to the office. The original game plan was to take him over to the humane society next door to the property. But this guy was so easy to be with and enjoyed people. Plus, many of the folks in the street department — including my friend Garry — noticed the resemblance to Moose. It had only been a day or so. My friends knew I was hurting and they hurt for me. They hurt for this little guy who clearly loved people.
I went over to the street department and decided to take in the pooch — at least for awhile, until we could find his owner or come up with another solution.
A trip to the vet provided some valuable information. He’s between 5 and 8 years old and in generally good health. He needs his teeth cleaned and he needs to be neutered. An ad in the paper generated a few phone calls and even an in-person visit, but no one has claimed him.
We’ve had some issues – he had absolutely no behavior skills when he arrived. No vocabulary. No boundaries. However, he has this amazing desire to please. He works sooooooo hard at making people happy. He loves to chase tennis balls and will run himself silly trying to make me happy. He hates being scolded. A quick, stern, “NO!” turns him into a pitiful trembling ball of fur, so we’re very careful to get our point across while still showing him love and affection. He’s getting more secure every day.
My folks were out of town when Moose took his last car ride, so they’re about a week behind in the grieving process. Plus, the past few weeks have dredged up old memories of our family’s first Lhasa Apso. Benji was a rescue. He was such a loyal, faithful, intelligent friend. My daddy took Benji to the vet one day as my folks were preparing to leave on an extended driving vacation. That was 20 years ago and my mom still cries because Daddy did the right thing, even though it was difficult.
This spare dog, though, reminds my mom of the time Benji ran away – trying to walk back to our old neighborhood just a few days after my folks moved to a new home in west Little Rock. She sees this little Shi Tzu and admires his tenacity. He is a survivor and desperately wants to be loved. My mama remembers how afraid she was for Benji – wandering around looking for the place he used to call home.
The spare dog and I have been sitting here on the front porch more than an hour. He’s made absolutely no attempt to leave from under my chair, even though Principi’s roaming about. Squirrels are scampering. Runners are trotting past. And walkers are being dragged by their leashed pets up the street.
He’s learned a few words. He loves Principi, and the cat is growing accustomed to being the hunted. With Moose, she was always the agitator, so it’s taking some getting used to, but she enjoys having a companion during the day.
As far as spare dog’s behavior issues are concerned, the vet says it’s pretty difficult to potty train a dog this age. However, he’s happy and well-behaved when confined to the sun room and kitchen during the day. At night, he’s content in the large crate beside my bed.
My wise mom is of the opinion that spare dog is ideally suited to a household with a retired couple – home most of the time. My brain wholeheartedly agrees. My heart mostly agrees. So if we can find someone like that, I’d give him to someone who had more time to spend with him.
In the meantime, my mom has floated a name for him. “Shadow.”