Category Archives: Dogs

Happy Birthday to Sunshine and Snow!

S&S reversedToday my twin Malt-Tzu (or Mal-Shi, if you will) pups turned 9 years old. They share a birthday with President Barack Obama. That day in November 2004 when they captured my heart and I brought them home seems like yesterday. The occasion inspired me to re-read parts of Sunshine’s online diary. She hasn’t made any entries lately, but the link is

I was reminded that she had a rough time in 2011. She pulled through, of course, and she’s fine now. Below I’m sharing a couple of her entries on her milestones that year (with her permission, of course).

 January 23: Home from the Hospital

Sunshine after surgeryOh my! I have been through so much, I don’t know where to begin. The bottom line is that I am finally home, lying next to Sis on a cushion beside Mom’s desk. I have a big long seam in my belly, with my skin stapled together, and I’m exhausted. In fact, I have to dictate this to Mom because I don’t have the strength to type.
It all started because I couldn’t pee. We went to our regular Doc on Friday around 2 o’clock because no pee had come out since the day before. Still nothing. He said to come back Monday. Back home, Mom watched me for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I would squat and squat, but nothing came out. Besides that, I was vomiting and I couldn’t stop shaking. Around midnight she got really worried and took me to the Emergency Room for dogs. The doctor sucked up some of my blood into a glass tube with a needle on the end of it, and we waited and waited. Then he took a picture inside my belly – it’s called ultrasound. It showed more than 10 stones in my bladder! Seriously: real stones. One was stuck and keeping me from peeing. I was really, really sick. Mom was very nervous and she was crying. The doctor told her something had to be done right away; I could die if he didn’t act soon. So she agreed to let him go ahead and cut me open to take out the stone that was stuck – and the rest of them, too, of course.
The next thing I remember I woke up in a cage in the hospital. I was groggy and sore, but the people were very nice to me. Mom came the next day and brought me home. I was glad to be home, but so tired and sore that I couldn’t really show it. At least I can pee. It feels like I need to do it all the time, but I’m being careful not to do it in the house. It’s all so hard.
I hope I get better soon!

June 28: Bees!!! Yikes!!!!!! Bee sting!!!! Oooouuch!!!!!

Oh my. Why does everything always happen to me? When we woke up this morning, the house was full of bees! Yes, BEES!! Thousands of them. They were all over the windows, the floors, the walls… It was a big mess and very scary. The whole house was buzzing with the noise. Mom took pictures, but they’re too gross to show here. 
I ran upstairs to get away from them, but instead I stepped on one. OOOOOUUUUUCH!! I let out a big scream. My paw got all red and the pain was AWFUL. My leg started to swell. I kept crying and gnawing at the spot. I couldn’t put my foot down. Mom gave me a homeopathic remedy, Apis mellifica, and a couple of Snow’s antihistamines. And she put an ice pack on it, but that didn’t help much.
A man was on the way to remove the bees, and as soon as he came, Mom took me to see the Doc. He pulled out the stinger, and I screamed the whole time. I am NOT a good patient. Then he gave me two injections, and I calmed down. I’m sort of zoned out now, exhausted from the whole ordeal.
8 Tech in his bee suitBy the time we got home, the bee man (shown here in his bee suit) had sucked up most of the bees in the house with a huge vacuum cleaner and was removing a hive from under the deck on the patio. It was GINORMOUS!! About 4 by 6 feet, spreading out under the deck, attached to the planks. Mom took a picture of the hive (also too gross to show here), and then SHE got stung!!
This day will go down in history.

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The lengths I go to for my dogs

S&S cut-out croppedI don’t anthropomorphize my dogs. I don’t dress them in clothes, paint their toenails, or put ribbons in their hair. I’m fully aware that kisses often mean “I’m hungry” rather than “I love you,” and that “home” to them is essentially a food palace—an elaborate silo designed exclusively to shelter them and protect their source of sustenance.

Still, I go the extra mile to make sure that Sunshine and Snow are properly cared for. Humankind has rendered them helpless. They depend on me to make the best decisions on their behalf, and I take that responsibility seriously.

My dogs eat a fully balanced moist grain-free diet supplemented with dollops or “real” food–meat, poultry, fish, green tripe, egg, yam, cooked carrots, squash, pumpkin, or other nutritious goodies—all of it laced with chicken broth or some other delicious juice. They get four outings a day, at least one of which is a mile-long walk. I minimize prescription medications and vaccines. I subscribe to the Whole Dog Journal and follow its advice almost religiously.

But with all this fussing, if you had told me three years ago that they would be getting a monthly massage and that I would consider it a good investment, I would have laughed out loud.

In January 2010, after a series of events that I will go into some other day, our vet prescribed massage for the two of them. That was the beginning of our relationship with Ann Montalto, canine massage therapist (

Ann & Sun C - smallAnn is a graduate of the Lang Institute for Canine Massage, a 675-hour program of study in massage techniques and acupressure for dogs that includes courses in canine anatomy, physiology, orthopedic pathology, breed characteristics, and gait and movement. In addition, she has years of experience using both cold and thermal lasers, dating back to her days as a registered nurse. She has been practicing canine massage for eight years.

At first my girls were skeptical, but soon they learned to love their monthly appointments. Now when I say “We’re going to see Auntie Ann!” they rush to the car and beg to get in.

The massages have transformed their personalities. They are more affectionate and relaxed. They are calm, easy-going, obedient, and rarely bark. By the end of the month, they begin to get a little antsy and I can tell they are ready for a tune-up.

So why do I go to all this trouble? They warm my heart and teach me about life. They are endlessly patient and forgive all my lapses. They are never mean-spirited. Their antics make me laugh. Their tongues heal my tears. They cuddle up beside me when I read or watch TV, and the heartbeat in those little bodies is one of the sweetest sensations I have ever felt. And who else on the planet would be so thrilled to see me when I come home?

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My dogs

S&S cut-outMy twin Maltese Shi-Tzu pups, Sunshine and Snow, have been keeping me entertained for eight years now. It seems like yesterday when they came into my life. I had taken my friend Eric with me to a breeder with the intention of looking at a Schnoodle, the kind of dog I thought I wanted. The Schnoodle turned out to be quite sickly and I was about to leave when a litter of three adorable pups – a brother and two sisters – stole my heart. The boy was brown and white, but the two girls were almost all white, and one of them was very friendly and wanted to be cuddled. The other one was shaking in a corner and didn’t want to be touched. I knew immediately that the strong and friendly one would be a good companion, but the other one was incredibly cute and I felt certain that I could bring her out of her shell. As I was trying to decide between them, Eric said “Why don’t you take them both?” And the rest is history, as the saying goes. I don’t know whether the thought would have occurred to me if he hadn’t mentioned it, but I take full responsibility for my decision. I named the strong and healthy one “Sunshine,” which fit her personality perfectly, and the other one, “Snow,” as she reminded me of the soft white mysteries.Arrival (E)

Snow was miserable on the ride home, and when we arrived, she didn’t want to get out of the crate. Sunshine clambered out first, explored their new home, and finally persuaded her sister to venture forth. Soon they were chasing each other around, turning somersaults, and falling on top of each other.

Falling leavesI fed them a rich diet of specialty canned foods and real cooked meat, and they grew quickly. Before long, they were getting into mischief. They attended weekly puppy play sessions at the vet’s, where they learned some basic commands and I learned “gentling” techniques. From a checklist, I gradually exposed them to a variety of substrates, loud noises, and people of all sizes and different kinds of clothing. Kindergarten was followed by more training courses, all based on positive reinforcement, and they eventually mastered their basic and In Eric's lap (E)intermediate skills.

“Maltese Shish-Tzu” is actually the name of a lesser-known breed, but I suspect that my little “designer mutts” were the result of an intentional first-generation coupling. They grew to weigh 20 and 22 pounds, respectively, or more than twice the size of either a Maltese or a Shih-Tzu. Sunshine has the sunny disposition of a Shih-Tzu, and Snow has many characteristics of a Maltese. She had a few behavior problems, but thankfully most of them are behind us. They now see a holistic vet and are treated with Chinese herbs and therapeutic massage.

In future posts, I will write about some of their adventures.


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