My Dogs are my best friends and the most fabulous teachers ever (after my parents of course), because I sincerely feel, that school failed to teach me anything that could come handy in my day to day life, except how to make new friends and fight my own battles. But my Dogs have taught me a lot, from showing me how to give unconditional love, to becoming a faithful friend and the most important lesson, the lesson of loyalty.
While growing up like every other teenager, I too had my set of hurdles that I needed to overcome on my own. Even I found myself gripped by the strong hands of the monster called depression and unending sadness & temporary defeatism lured my tears out of their hiding place, every now and then, which is at least six out of the seven days of the week. But what stopped me from falling apart, was the tender love and support lent to me by my dear little friend Muffin (since I shared nothing with my parents).
Muffin was a Shih-Tzu Dog, a long coated dog with a Chinese origin. The name ‘Shih-Tzu’ literally means ‘Lion Dog’ in Chinese and the breed was christened thus, as they were bred to resemble the Lion, just how it is depicted in the traditional Chinese art. The breed is also known as the Tibetan Lion Dog, but whether the Shih-Tzu, traces its origin back to China or Tibet is debatable. The history of the breed adamantly states that it originated in China around 800 BC. Also its genetics are closely related to Wolves. The Dogs were treated as though they were a priceless treasure, by the Royalties of China. Maybe that is the reason behind the Chinese guarding them jealously and their reluctance and blunt refusal in selling them or trading them. Well, I seem to empathize with them, since the breed has an adorable charm and not to forget those very manipulative eyes.
As far as the behavior goes, well Muffin was a very prissy dog, The dog was so full of himself and so stubborn, that if by mistake our dog boy gave him ‘Vegetarian’ food (plain milk with the Indian bread) , Muffin would put mud into the bowl and keep nudging until it reaches the point where the dog boy would usually go and sit while the dogs had their food, and begin barking so loud till my mother got his food changed by adding some boiled egg or chicken pieces in it, only then would His Highness Muffin finish his meal *Phew*.
But generally the Shih-Tzu is an affectionate dog, very outgoing and highly alert. They are also very clean dogs and hate the presence of mud on their bodies. Muffin used to love his baths. If they are under trained, they may resort to biting and nipping if they get irritated in the presence of pokey strangers.
The Shih-Tzu is a long coated dog and needs constant care such as brushing the coat at least twice a day as it gets matted very fast and matted fur leads to the clotting of blood, clipping of nails as long nails may get stuck in the coat, it’s eyes are very sensitive too, and so the tuft of hair falling over their eyes protects them from getting damaged, it can be trimmed but not cut to a very short length. I needed to cut Muffin’s hair from around his paws and mouth area as getting food and muck off them can be quite a hassle. Also, they need a cool room to stay in.
Now coming back to the topic, Muffin was my best companion, like any other dog to its master. Sometimes I got really angry with him for littering in my room; some of us even raise our hands on our dogs. We do it under the pretense of scolding or training our dog in order to prevent it from dirtying our house the next time. But what we don’t realize is that, every time we hit our bud, we break its tender heart. You may find it difficult to understand, so let’s make it easy by going back in time and stopping at the moment when you first brought your bud home. For you it was just a dog, but for him you were its world; his master, his best friend, mother, father, sibling and everything else (mostly his nanny but never mind). Remember, the moment it felt hungry, it came to you, the moment it felt sleepy, it looked for your lap or your bed or may have expected you to take it to its bed and make it comfortable, at least my Muffin did so. Our dogs are dependent on us the moment they promise to be loyal to us , protect us and be on our side no matter what happens and so basic courtesy demands that we make a promise to them too, the promise of loving them, keeping them safe and most importantly keeping them away from any kind of pain. A dog is no less than a child so if we can be so cautious about not hurting our child’s feelings, then why do we forget that our innocent dogs have tender hearts too? Don’t go by the size of the dog, they all have tender hearts, believe me, a dog as huge as the English Mastiff, would stop eating its food on being yelled at by its master.
Now come back to the present, when you raise your hand on your bud, you let him down, you break his heart and crush his hopes, now don’t get all scared thinking it might not love you any more, dogs and all the other animals are born with hearts of gold, they would suffer your bad behavior but never stop loving you, because the word ‘Abandon’ does not exist in their dictionary. Also, don’t think I am encouraging you to hit your dog or take your dog’s love for granted, because if you do, it will only reflect your ruthless conscience. There are many other ways to train your dog without hitting it such as the paper roll training trick, wherein you roll a newspaper and hit it on the ground or your thigh (now don’t be a sissy, it doesn’t hurt!), while making the dog sniff the litter it is responsible for. Dogs are sensitive to noise and they often get irritated or a little scared every time they hear the newspaper’s noise. Once you’ve repeated this act twice or thrice (because dogs don’t get trained overnight, it requires hell amount of patience), the dog will start associating ‘litter inside the house’ with ‘irritating noise’ and eventually stop dirtying your house.
Our dogs are very attached to us, since our appreciation means the world to them, they are forever trying to impress us and our company is what they desire the most (second to their food of course). So when your dog dirties your house, clasp a leash to its collar and tie your dog in a corner away from you, make sure you keep its bed and bowl of water next to it. But before you do that you should make your dog sniff the litter, so it knows why it’s being punished. Mind you, it will take long for your dog to start associating ‘litter inside the house’ with being ‘away from the master’. It will eventually start abiding by your rules.
You should also try toilet training your pup by putting it on newspaper every time it gets restless so it knows where to relieve itself, cleaning the newspapers is more convenient. The younger they are, the faster they learn.
Patience is the key to a well-trained dog. So every time you lose your temper and patience while training your dog imagine how your child would feel on being slapped and if by chance you’re single then remember how you felt on being slapped.
All this I have learned from years of training dogs and through my best bud Muffin. He taught me, that the connections that exist between a master and his dog are all joined to a single key called ‘Love’
This is a tribute to my dead friend my Muffin. Where ever you are, your are missed. RIP.