It was the kind of phone call that most grandparents receive at one time or another. My youngest granddaughter was on the other end of the line. After exchanging a few pleasantries came the question, "Grandma, can you babysit for me?" The first thing that came to mind was a mental picture of my two year old great-granddaughter, Emily. My granddaughter went on to explain that the family was going on vacation for a week and, of course, that meant that Emily was going along. I was being asked to baby-sit Lily -- my 4-month-old great-granddog! Lily is a Shih Tzu puppy. So, being a normal grandmother, I could never say no, so Lily has been spending the week with me.
I have had dogs with me my entire life, but never small dogs. It has been border collies, a couple of shepherds, and a very special lab/shepherd mix, along with numerous mixed strays that were always being dropped off near the farm. We always gave them a home and most turned out to be good and faithful companions. While they weren't all "big" dogs, none was ever as small as Lily. She is about the size of a small sack of sugar right now. So having a small dog like this is a new experience for me.
Lily is a bundle of energy and quick as a wink. She has acute hearing and the tiniest sound draws her immediate attention. She has a very keen sense of smell and one of the things that really gets her excited is the smell of marble cheese! She will hunt everywhere trying to find it. It didn't take her long to learn that if I am sitting at the kitchen table it usually means I have food! It is an excellent opportunity for her to become a spoiled great-granddog.
They didn't bring any dog toys along, so we had to create some. An ordinary washrag tied in a knot made Lily very happy. She can chew on it, carry it around and loves to fetch it when I throw it for her. She has found it to be a lot more fun than one of my old slippers. When she gets tired her favorite place is to curl up on my lap in my recliner for a nap. That works really well, as I can get a quick nap also.
When she is sitting on my lap in the recliner, she is up where she can see everything on the television. She is sometimes very interested and watches for quite a while. When she sees something she doesn't like, you hear her start this low, throaty growl and then she barks loudly at the screen. That is exactly what I want to do when I try to watch some of these terrible shows that they are airing these days! When we are outside and she spies the horses, she turns into a growling, ferocious watchdog, and if you close your eyes, you would think she is the size of a Rottweiler! The name Shih Tzu actually means "little lion" and that is exactly what Lily thinks she is.
The Shih Tzu is one of the 14 oldest dog breeds. It is said that they were developed by Tibetan monks and given as gifts to Chinese royalty. The purpose of a Shih Tzu is to be a companion, and Lily follows me everywhere. My greatest concern is that I will accidentally step on her! My dogs were always a very important part of my life as a child and remain so to this day. I think every child should grow up with a dog. They listen to a person's troubles without judging or criticizing, they just give love. Lily will be Emily's special friend and companion as they grow up together. Having Lily here this week has been interesting, educational and a joy. I look forward to babysitting her again.