As I sit here about to type this post, Lessons I’ve learned from my Shih Tzus I can feel Lazer’s hot breath on my leg.
Lazer has been my constant companion on a daily basis since my dad passed away eight years ago. And to be fair ( Ike who we rescued four years ago and is Lazer’s forever shadow) is also heavily breathing on my other leg.
When we adopted Lazer he was two and half and from the day we brought him home he has laid next to me on mornings when getting out of bed felt impossible.
And whenever the opportunity presents itself, he licks my face and tries to get in the nook of my arm or leg, just to be as close to me as he possibly can.
My 12 pound 9 year old Shih Tzu who I named Lazer (yes after my father Z’l whose Hebrew name was Eliezer) is as much a part of the fabric of my life as anything and anyone else. And not to leave out my Rescue Shih tzu Ike ( who is still very much a puppy) who is also inextricably interwoven into the fabric of my life.
Lessons I’ve learned from my Shih Tzus
So why does it seem like I am favoring Lazer? I’m not! It’s just that his life, and especially his old age, feels so parallel to that of my father. And I swear I feel like I see my father’s face in Lazer’s ( And yes–I know it sounds crazy!)
As my father’s illness progressed, he required so much more help but- he was a tough one; fiercely independent and adamant about doing whatever he could, on his own.
My Shih Tzus Have Taught me about Determination
Did I mention that Lazer who has problems jumping will attempt a jump from the floor to the couch at least 10 times, until he finally makes it? Like my dad he’s got this spunky quality about him.
And Like my dad, as he has aged Lazer too has slowed down considerably. Yet there are times when he will summon up that puppy exuberance and in those moments he wins my heart all over again.
Sure there are some who think I have gone absolutely mad. I have, in the past couple of years, organized our lives around this little 12 pounder-( and our other rescue Ike who is till very much a puppy at a little over four years old) who I can’t leave in the care of anyone other than my husband.
So yes it’s true I *might have* given up a few trips to exotic locales recently because I couldn’t find suitable accommodations for our boys- but the way I see it- they are my priority.
I feel as strongly responsible and in love with my my dogs as I do my two legged fairly hairless kids. I made a vow when I rescued them years ago that I’d protect and love them.
And sure I don’t relish not being able to jet to Paris, but by the same token these are just small sacrifices compared to the unconditional love they have given me all these years-all the while never asking for anything in return other than just a warm body to snuggle up to.
Of course some people view my devotion to them as slightly insane, and they wonder, how could I be so utterly connected to an animal?
My Shih Tzus remind me to seek out the essence of other beings
But the thing is, when I look at Lazer all I see is love. I see his spirit and it is so very reminiscent of the way I felt about my dad. Sure towards the end of his life his body may have betrayed him- but my father’s personality and the very essence of who he was, was still utterly intact.
I see my Lazer in the same way; yes he needs more care now- but his spirit and that love, it’s all still so very present.
I hope in some small way- my kids are gleaning some lessons about life, love and responsibility through the relationship and commitment we honor with our Lazer and Ike and that all life deserves to be honored and cherished.
My Shih Tzus have taught me about how Our time is limited
I also know my time with both of my rescues is limited. and so each day I spend with them I remind myself is a gift- and of course their love is a gift that continually gives, without any conditions.
Lessons I’ve learned from my Shih Tzus
With all that being said these 10 PET COMMANDMENTS feel very sacred to me.
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however, you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.
10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.