Happy birthday to Shadow!

Our dog Shadow turned 5 this month…in human years.

Adding Shadow to our family is the best decision I ever made that I didn’t want to make.  For real.

My husband and kids wanted a puppy.  I didn’t want one mainly because I knew this puppy would become my responsibility and all I could think about was how I didn’t want to have more to do.

But they wore me down.

In particular, my daughter Natalie who was 11 at the time.  She had a blonde puppy photo torn out from a magazine taped above  her bed and next to it a slip of notebook paper where she wrote ‘# of days I have wanted a dog” and drew a line on this sheet every day!  She had hundreds of tallies before we got Shadow.

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Getting a dog was not an impulsive decision

Deciding whether to have a dog was calculated decision and a big deal for me.  Once we got a puppy, I knew there was no turning back.

I researched dogs online.  We knew we needed an allergy friendly one for Jacob.  I also knew I didn’t want dog hair tumbleweeds all over my house – so a dog that doesn’t shed was a requirement.  While my family was pushing for a big dog, I knew I needed a small one that would always be cute and something I could hold and frankly not get in the way around the house.

I thought about all the dogs I didn’t mind having around.  I quickly thought about my college roommate Erin’s two Shih Tzus – such cuties and well behaved.

Soon after we started thinking about expanding our family, we pet sat a neighbor’s Shih Tzu when they went on vacation over Christmas that year.  We fell in love with Pepper as he just perched himself on the top of the couch when we watched TV and was just so easy to have around.  Friendly.  Not a huge barker.  Soft and snuggly.  We asked our neighbors if we could just keep Pepper and they could get a new dog.  They laughed but did share where they got him and how we could get a similar puppy.

So we ended up with Shadow five years ago.

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My sister Susie painted this! Click the image to see her gallery.

Shadow makes me healthier

Since I’m a morning routine girl during the week, Shadow helps me pop out of bed on the weekends.  He needs to squirt in the mornings.  He doesn’t know you can sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays and is trained to seize the day.

Because he has a bad habit of cleaning up after himself when he goes #2 (literally consuming his food a second time – this is so gross!), we opt to not just let him roam in the fenced backyard but rather take turns walking him three times a day.  This means we are moving more, getting some vitamin D, and having some time to process our mental traffic.

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Shadow makes me happy

How couldn’t he?  Have you seen how cute he is!?  It’s near impossible to be sad or depressed when he is around.  He’s appropriately named Shadow since he follows me around…everywhere.  My own personal bodyguard and companion.

When I come home from work, or even after just being outside for a few minutes without him, he is so overjoyed when I return home!  No matter what deep slumber he may be in, he is at the door greeting me, tail wagging, like I’ve been gone for days.

Just being around him after a tough day has a calming effect.  Petting Shadow is the best stress and anxiety reducer.  Maybe because he instantly makes me feel connected to something besides myself.  Or maybe because he’s always willing to listen.

He’s my little buddy.  Seeing him happy makes me happy.  One of my favorite things is lounging on my love seat with him at my feet, his chin resting on my ankle.

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True unconditional love

Adding Shadow to our family has been one of the best decisions ever.  All I could think about before we got him was how much I was going to have to give and do.  But in reality, he’s given me way more unconditional love and overall joy than I ever expected.

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Share about your pet in the blog comments.  In what ways does your dog contribute to your health and happiness?

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2 comments on “My Shih Tzu Improves my Health and Happiness”

  1. My old neighbors had (and still have) a Shih Tsu named Noah and he was always happy to come over and see us at our house (he thought our place was his too)!

    So true about the benefits of having a dog, my life is healthier and happier thanks to my Coffee-pup! ^_^ He makes my life better by his silly antics, goofy grin, cuddles, and just being his doggy self! Great post!

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