Shih Tzus have the nickname “Lion Dogs.”
It happened gradually.
When Murphy first came home, he was the Cowardly Lion. He was afraid of sounds --- all kinds of sounds – the sound of a spoon against a dish sent him scurrying away. When I dropped anything (which I do a lot), he jumped like he had been shot.
He was very nervous around other people and other dogs. He wouldn’t let anyone touch him. He usually wouldn’t make a sound; he would just back away. He began accepting other dogs first. Then he accepted women. Men were last. I suspect he had had a bad experience.
The first time I took him to Pet Smart (for what I thought would be a special treat), he shook like a leaf. I had to pick him up and carry him through the store on an abbreviated visit.
When I put him in the car, he would shake. I think he thought I was taking him back. I’m not sure “back” to what, but whatever it was, he didn’t want it.
He would pee when I took a shower because he knew that I was going to leave after I showered and dressed. The water itself made him very anxious.
I didn’t know he knew how to bark for almost 2 months. He just didn’t bark.
I had to leave him alone to eat. He would keep looking back at me if I stayed in the room fearful that I would take his food.
But now he is the King of the Castle. He may not be Mufasa, but he is definitely the young prince, Simba. He not only is comfortable; he is downright demanding. He lets me know what he wants and when he wants it.
He is the “captain” of our walks. He chooses the route. He chooses the side of the road. He chooses the pace (generally quite slow with a lot of stops to sniff and pee/mark). If I have the nerve to try to go in a direction that he doesn’t agree with, he will dig in his heels and give me the “stink eye” of all “stink eyes.”
He chooses his side of the bed and he alternates from side to side. Sometimes I get up to go to the bathroom and he has moved to my side. He weighs less than 15 pounds, but I don’t move him.
He steals my mom’s chair at her house when she gets up. If is a nice, comfy chair. Sometimes she lets him keep it.
He goes to my friends’ houses with me and makes himself right at home. If they have a dog, he finds their toys and swings them around with glee as if to say, “look what they have here for me!”
He alerts me that he wants to sit on the porch. We go out and he watches the world go by. If he likes you, he gets up and runs down to have a visit. He goes up to men and women and sits at their feet (sometimes on their feet!) until they give him a massage.
He tells me when it is time to eat and when it is time to go to bed. Sometimes I listen.
He came home terrified of everything and now he runs my house. I let it happen. He is a benevolent dictator. And I am his loyal servant.