On the 3rd August 2017 it will be exactly one year since Cash, our Shih Tzu puppy moved in. Ever since he joined us, I have been wanting to write this post and share something with you guys, that you may or may not already know about me….
I had a HUGE fear of dogs! – not so much when I little, I have fond memories of the dogs I knew as I was growing up, BUT as I got older, a fear just developed, gradually developed and peeked when I was running my own gift making business, I would make deliveries to customer houses and quite a few times I had dogs lunge at me, grab me, bite my clothes. I was petrified, if a dog walked towards me, I would panic, my heart would race and would often result in me having to cross the road. If a dog barked at me, I’d end up in tears, I just couldn’t cope at all.
“But you have a dog!?” – I hear you say
(Note that I underlined the word ‘had’ near the beginning) Because believe it or not I have over come my fear and I am pretty proud of myself. I over came my fear so much that eventually we ended up with our own four legged friend running about our home. It’s still seems crazy to me. I do often look at him and think to myself ‘I have a dog’ ‘I HAVE A DOG!’ and now I can not imagine a world without him.
“But you are so scared of dogs” – was a reaction I had ALOT!
I was super scared. I once walked into a house where a dog barked violently at me, I froze, I could not walk past it, they had to shut it away, but still the whole time I was there, it was barking, my hands were clammy, my heart was racing, I felt sick with fear, when we left I sat in the car and burst into tears, part trauma and part relief of getting out.
Family members owned dogs, they would often have to shut them away from me. Looking back now, I can see in hindsight that those dogs would never have hurt me, I wish I could go back in time and give those dogs some fuss, as the person I now sit here as. It was a shame that even a dog sniffing me or looking at me could make me tense up in fear.
“How on earth did your fear just go away?” – another popular question!
One evening I randomly watched a TV programme about the behaviours of dogs, I found it absolutely fascinating. It explained their body language, reasons why they did certain behaviours and how humans can influence such behaviours. I found it all so intriguing. Things seemed to click in to place. I downloaded all previous episodes and was hooked. They covered everything from how to approach a dog, how to change behaviours and how as humans, it is up to us to train them in positive behaviours. I then moved on to google, I would spend my free time reading about dogs, reading about how to train them and reading of the benefits of having a little friend.
This did not happen overnight, this all spanned over about 6 months or more. Barry and I would chat about what we had learnt and after many discussions the conversation turned to ‘let’s get a dog’ – I never EVER thought those words would EVER leave my mouth!!!
We further discussed about whether to re-home a dog from a shelter or adopt a puppy. We did decide to go for a puppy, it wasn’t a snap decision, we weighed up the pros and cons and thought that it would be better for us to have a puppy, so that we can train him/her from a very early age. With this in mind, I began reading everything I could find, relating to puppy training. I wanted to be fully prepared, with all the knowledge possible. There was so much to plan for and I like to be organised. I don’t get the nickname ‘Lyndsey “Prepared” Garrett’ for nothing …(thanks Barry!)…haha
Then conversations switched to which breed. This took weeks of research, we took into consideration the size of our home, our garden, what traits we would like and how he/she would fit in to our lifestyle. We really gave it a lot of thought. Which I am so glad we did, because it worked out great. We decided on a Shih Tzu puppy.
“The Shih Tzu is a lover, not a hunter. Bred solely to be a companion, the Shih Tzu is an affectionate, happy, outgoing house dog who loves nothing more than to follow his people from room to room. Has a personality and temperament that is loyal, and outgoing. Because of its friendly nature, the Shih Tzu tends to interact well with other dogs and with children and adults.” – Wikipedia
We had decided on a name before meeting any puppies. It was fun trying to come up with a name, we always have fun naming our animals. We always went a little ‘different’, but in a fun way. Our family probably worry about what we will name our children in the future. Hank our African Pygmy Hedgehog is named after Hank, the cop from Breaking Bad and in the past all our Hamsters have been named after characters from one of our favourite films – Snatch (Turkish, Tommy, Mrs O’Neil and Boris) oh the lolz!.
Anyway back to the puppy’s name. As soon as we said it out loud, we knew it was the one…….Cash…..after Johnny Cash one of our favourite singers. Now all we needed was the last piece to our puzzle…..a puppy!
I joined a few pet groups on Facebook that were based in our local area. I posted a few times requesting if there were any local breeders of Shih Tzus. I had a few responses but as soon as I picked up on something that I wasn’t happy with, that was it. I would move on.
One good thing to come from my facebook postings was a wonderful lady who lives in a near by village,who got in touch with me. She was the proud owner of five Shih Tzus. She offered to help me in my search and said that if she heard anything, she would let me know. She also offered for me to go over to her house to meet her family of Shih Tzus, so I could witness first hand what the breed was like. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by 5 of the fluffiest, softest and well behaved dogs I have ever met. They were so well trained. This was one of the first encounters with a group of dogs since my fear had subsided and there was no pounding heart, no sweaty palms, I sat on the floor with 5 dogs sniffing me, climbing on my lap and bringing toys to me to play. It was quite a moment. The lady was so kind and offered up all sorts of useful information, she was a huge help. We took the dogs for a short walk. All she needed to say was ‘Walkies’ and they lined up at the front door (yes! lined up!) and waited patiently for their leads to be put on. I was sold. This was definitely the right breed for us.
In one of my puppy googling sessions I discovered the website www.pets4homes.co.uk – which is how I ended up meeting the breeder of Cash. But before I met her, I did visit two other sets of puppies. As cute as the puppies were, I wasn’t happy with the environment one set was being brought up in and I didn’t like the attitude of the breeder at the other set. I stuck with my gut feelings and I am glad I did. I would check pets4homes a few times a day, puppies would sell so fast, I had to be on the ball! This went on for weeks. I eventually expanded the search a little further and came across a lady in Birmingham. It was just over an hour away, so not too bad. It was worth it. I went to visit her when Cash was 6 wks old. I walked in and was instantly surrounded by 5 puppies, the mummy and daddy Shih Tzu and two other large dogs. Again I was completely fine! This still felt so surreal!
The lady was amazing, all the puppies were being looked after so well inside her living room, they had their own play area, they were handled very regularly, they were clean, well fed and she had began toilet training them on puppy pads. There were two boy pups and as soon as she handed me ‘Cash’ I knew he was the one. He just laid on my lap and fell asleep. She assured me that he would be vet checked, have his first vaccination and be microchipped before his departure date. She also invited back the following week as well, to play with him and get to know him more. Over the next two weeks, I had regular communication from her, she would send me updates on his vet visits, she sent me videos and so many photos….I told you, she was amazing! I was happy that I hadn’t settled for anything less. She was worth waiting the extra few weeks!
The night before the big day, we excitedly set up his little bed area, laid his bowls down and prepared his travel case for the big journey the following morning. It all went super smoothly, when I arrived, I popped his travel bag open on the sofa, so he could sniff it and get used to it for a little while before popping him inside….he just went right ahead and climbed in and laid down! He was ready to go 🙂
A year on – We can’t imagine not having him trotting around our feet and laying legs akimbo on the sofa with out a care in the world. – Hard to believe I used to be so scared.
He has continued to do so well with his training, we even completed a fun Rallying Course with him, which was run by the lovely Lilliana from Watch My Chops Dog Training – who I highly recommend. She has been brilliant and is always happy to offer any words of wisdom. Definitely make sure you check out her Facebook page (here) – she regularly posts invaluable information that I have found hugely beneficial.
WHOAH! This is quite possibly the longest blog post I have written in a looong time. If you have made it to the end, I award you 100 Lynz points! – I hope you found it a teeny tiny bit interesting. I just wanted to share how I overcame a serious fear and the story of Cash and how he came about.
If you are interested in learning more about Cash, his training, the techniques we used that enabled us to train him to toilet outside, in a specific area within a few weeks of having him and even ringing a bell to let us know when he needs to go outside, let me know! I would love to share more.
Here’s some cute pics as another reward for reading until the end 🙂
I look forward to chatting with you in the comments below….I will be waiting….
Lyndsey…..but you can just call me lynz 😉
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