Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that we have recently added two new dogs to the crew at The Swamp. After suddenly losing Ruby on the dikes on July 18th, our house felt very empty. I believe the best way to honour Ruby would be to take in another dog in need. I had been reading about Charm, a blind Shih Tzu who had ended up at SAINTS. I contacted Carol and she said a volunteer was interested in fostering Charm but she had another dog, described as a Shih Tzu Cross, named Mustang Sally who needed a chance.
A few days later, I went out to meet Sally (who is now Gracie). She was super sweet, affectionate and despite the fact that she had ended up at the SPCA seemed remarkably issue-free. She came home with me that day. She had some medical issues: her skin was scabby and itchy from an untreated flea infestation. She had recently lost 16 teeth and was spayed. Her vulva was large and infected. She has since been to the vet for blood work and antibiotics for her vulva infection. Her skin is looking better and her vulva is calming down.
As soon as she arrived she wormed her way into our hearts. This dog, hands down, is the happiest dog I have ever met. She runs; she play bows; she fetches like a champ; and she is always on, except when she sleeps. She does love quiet cuddles and sleeping on the bed. She is really giving young Sawyer a run for his money. She is always trying to play with him. They became besties in the first hour. Her relationship with Sawyer was completely unexpected yet so amazing.
Gracie is not a Shih Tzu. She is actually mostly Lhasa Apso. The two breeds have lots in common as they were both bred to protect people: the Shih Tzus guarded palaces in China and the Lhasa Apso looked after Buddhist monks in their monasteries. The Lhasas are a bit bigger than their Chinese cousins and personality-wise they couldn’t be more different. Lhasa Apsos are fiercely loyal (as are Shih Tzus) and they have a very deep bark that you would expect to come from a much larger dog. They have excellent hearing and their job is to ‘sound a warning’. In Gracie’s case, she sounds a warning… at everything. Dogs barking outside, dogs barking inside, a fly moves in the kitchen, you get the idea. We are teaching her to be a little more discerning and she is getting the idea. We also don’t really want her to think she has to protect us. It is our job to protect her. Lhasa Apsos like to be with you all the time. It is only in the last couple of days that I can go to the bathroom without her. They also like to sit on your feet. I am not sure what this is about but I am sure it will come in handy when my feet are cold in the winter!
The only real issue that Gracie seems to have is that she is a bit dominant. Luckily for us we have experience with this kind of behaviour and can effectively manage it. It really manifests with bigger dogs for some reason. She seems to be mostly leaving Kiefer alone but poor Jesse he can’t move at the moment without her going after him. This will resolve as it did with Kiefer. She also likes to get up high on furniture or people and growl if other dogs come near.
Gracie has earned a couple of nicknames. I tend to call her Happy Gilmore in the morning or when I come home. She acts like you are returning from the war and she hasn’t seen you in years. She jumps, and dances and is generally exuberant. My other nickname for her is ‘itchy and scratchy’ as she loves to scratch in bed preferably whilst she is pressed into your back. I am sure Deb will pipe in with other nicknames!
So, this post can be summed up as follows: Gracie, the dog we never knew we wanted and who would fit so perfectly it was like she was meant to be with us.
 We are still hoping that somehow Ruby can come home.
 Her blood work was good except that her liver numbers were slightly elevated.
 The other new dog, featured in Part 2.