Things I do for my dogs – The Chunk

The Chunk in all her Shihtzu glory!

Part 2 of a series

The Chunk (AKA Twinkie) was a Shihtzu. She was a show dog but her tail curled like a pig’s tail so she was sold as ‘non-breeding, pet stock’ to my grandmother. My grandmother was too old when she got the Chunk and she knew nothing about the breed. She especially did not understand that Shihtzus (AKA shihtheads) are very stubborn and the Chunk had it down to a fine art. I am not going to go into what happened with The Chunk and my grandmother. Five months after The Chunk arrived my grandmother went into the hospital and I took the dog. She never went back to live.

Almost immediately, The Chunk was a trial. She was over a year old and not toilet trained. When she came to live with me it was the dead of winter. I set about trying to toilet training her. The problem was that she preferred to just dash to the basement and do it there. Remember what I said about her being stubborn. I gated off the basement and started making her go out. One day it was like -35 in Cowtown, the wind was blowing and we had a lot of snow. The snow had drifted and it was very deep. The Chunk went out and stood in the middle of the backyard and refused to come back in. I, of course, was worried sick because it was so cold so I tried to get her. I was climbing over snow drifts, falling and cursing and that little brat would hop, just out of my reach so I couldn’t get her. I was extremely annoyed. This incident was my first introduction to the stubborn nature of the breed. The Chunk had it in spades!

Chunk lived life on her terms. If she didn’t want to go out to pee you had to carry her. Most of the time she would rather have an ‘accident’ than do it outside. This applied when it was too cold, too hot, too wet or too dry – nothing satisfied her highness. I lived in an apartment at one point with Tippy and Chunky so we had to go for a walk so they could pee. At minus 30 Tip used to ‘freeze up.’ She would pick one or two of her paws up and stop moving so I would have to pick her up and carry her for the duration. The Chunk would then take her sweet time finding just the right spot to pee. It made me mental!

One day when we still lived in the apartment Chunky would not pee. We walked for an hour that night and nothing. She would squat and try to pee but nothing would come out. We went to bed and I expected her to have an accident in the house overnight but she didn’t. The next morning the same thing, we walked and she would try to pee and nothing happened. It was like something was stopping her. I took her back in and I looked at her vulva open and I separated it a little bit. There was a tiny mat inside the poor little dog’s vulva! I got my scissors and I very gently coaxed it out and then I snipped it off. Chunk then tried to jump out of my arms but I was able to contain her and out we went. That dog had the biggest pee I have ever seen! I really think that went above and beyond the call of duty!

When we moved to Vancouver the Chunk had a new thing to hate: rain. If we were at the park and it started to rain she would turn on her heels and go back to the car. The Chunk going where she wanted to was always a theme with her. Mostly she wanted to sit beside me. I had girlfriend (before I met Deb) and she was completely jealous of the Chunk. She would always complain that I loved the dogs more than her*. Tippy and Chunky had their places beside me on the couch and they would not move for anyone.

The Chunk was loved to play but not in the way other dogs do. After Tippy passed away, Chunky became the alpha dog** of the house. She was much more benevolent than Tippy. Once Chunk became the alpha dog of the house she would not let the others see her play. She would want to go to the bedroom and play on the bed where we would smack the bed and she would try to get our hands and then we would grab her and body slam (not hard) on to the bed. She would get so over stimulated that she would dive off the bed and underneath it. This would go on for about 10 minutes at which time she would pull her little self together and leave the room dignified as if nothing happened.

The Chunk passed away in September of 2006 at 11 years old. She had developed a heart murmur and her heart was enlarged. She also had something going on with her liver. It was very difficult to say goodbye to her. She had been with me almost her whole life. She left a huge hole. She lived a good life. I miss you Chunky. You were an amazing little dog!

Part 1

*She was right about that.

**We know now that allowing a dog to be alpha in a pack is wrong. It should be the humans who are alpha. It is that way now with our pack.

Things I do for my Dogs – The Tippy Edition*

The First in a Series
I have had dogs for many years probably going on twenty now. Faced with dog issues over the years, I have been forced to become quite a creative problem solver. If you are squeamish, easily nauseated or bothered by bodily functions this is not the post for you to read!

It all began with my first dog Tippy. She was a Maltese/Shihtzu cross. Tippy was an extremely high-strung dog. She barked at anything. She spun like crazy when she saw me or someone else she loved. I loved that little dog fiercely. She saw me through many emotional times. We were inseparable. She went to work with me and she was my faithful every where I went. She went to graduate school with me, travelling across Canada to Kingston, ON.

Tippy had a major issue in life – she mostly refused to drink water because somehow she would aspirate it and spend several hours reverse sneezing. So Tippy ate ice, lots of ice. She would come running and spinning whenever she heard the ice tray crack. I could not leave a glass with ice in it unattended as she would knock it over to get the ice. I would have little wet spots on my carpet wherever I lived.

Tippy would also get little dog butt. Basically if the hair gets too long they get a ‘cling-on’ and if not caught quickly enough it can get pretty gross. I learned pretty quickly to not add water! In these cases, scissors are your friend. It is important to cut all the hair (and everything else) off. I have no idea how many times I cleaned that dogs’s butt over the ten years I had her.

Then there the KONG. Tippy liked to play non-stop. She played with the huge blue and white kong. She would get it and I would have to play tug of war with her to get it back. Lots of times she would end up off her feet growling all the way. She would play non-stop! She also liked to sit on my chest. When I sat on the couch she would jump on the back and then descend and sit on my chest. This was a bit of a problem because she was a bit of an alpha dog. I often joke that I wrote my master’s thesis while playing kong with Tippy and when we were not playing she was sitting on my chest.

Tip had many nicknames. One that really stuck was ‘Tippy the Tiny Terrorist.’ She was a bit aggressive towards other dogs and she ruled the house. If I had her today, things would be very different as I know a lot more now. Once other dogs accepted that Tippy was alpha dog it was all good. She did enjoy playing with them. One in particular stands out – Shilo. Shilo was a large likely Belgian Shepherd cross and Tippy loved to play with her. Her favourite thing to do with Shilo was to grab her tail and hang on. She would end up swallowing a lot of long black hairs that I would then have to pull out of the other end. I really loved my dog!

Tippy was very important to me. I will forever be grateful to my friend Gale who entrusted her care to me. Tippy was the centre of my world for her entire life. She saw me through so many life challenges and transitions. She passed away in November of 2000. Tippy, you were a very good dog and I miss you.

*A little note about the origins of this series – I was sitting with Zoe and I was draining about the 5th boil/abscess on her back. It occurred to me that I do some gross things for my dogs. Be assured that I love them dearly. I know that I get way more from them than I give. I think this will be fun!