Hello everyone! My name is Ayan Mishra. Here is the story of how I adopted my first dog, Muffin, along with some tips on how you can adopt yours!
I’ve always been an animal lover, ever since my childhood. I was in love with TV shows like “Dinosaur Train”, where I learned about ….well dinosaurs. I went on to read more about them and even bought a few encyclopedias. As a kid, I always wanted to have a pet animal. Since I couldn’t get a velociraptor, I settled on a dog! I started pestering my parents for a pet dog since I was 6 years old. My mom always said no because she thought I wasn’t old enough to take care of it. She would always say I could get one when I turned 10. Since she never had a dog before, she felt she needed to get mentally prepared for all the licking and getting used to having another family member. But mind you, my dad had two dogs (German Shepherds) when he was growing up as a kid. I had the majority on my side. It was only about convincing my mom, which took me some time. And when I say some time, it actually took me 4 full years to convince her! Well, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. So did I!
When I turned 9, I immediately started searching for dogs; I looked up popular dogs that are good for beginners. Most of the websites listed Labrador Retrievers as the number one dog! I researched about them, what they looked like, what they ate, how big they were and what colors they were available in. After all the research, I settled on adopting a yellow lab puppy. To continue the process, I created a Google document and listed all the breeders all over the East Coast and started calling them for availability. To my surprise, none of the breeders had any available lab pups left. Zero! Zilch! Nothing! Except for one breeder in New Hampshire. I called them up and we got in 11th in line to adopt one. I was excited when I heard this, but also a little disappointed to be so late in the line. I kept looking, and realized some other breeders that I contacted were scammers and puppy mills. Puppy mills are mass breeders that keep their puppies in horrible conditions; most of them are also sick and develop issues later on. Since Labradors were the number 1 dog breed, there were a lot of puppy mills for them. I tried staying away from breeders like those.
In April this year when I got the call from the breeder, they told me we did not make it in line to adopt the puppy. I was very disappointed and started my search all over again. Most of the breeders for labs were booked until 2022. That was when I realized we had to choose a different breed.
I realized that I should search for smaller dogs because they need less exercise, attention and are easier to train. I found 2 breeds that I liked - the Maltese and the Shih Tzu. As I started researching about them, I fell in love with these small puppies! After all the deliberation, I chose the (drum roll please) Shi Tzu! The name Shih Tzu means little lion in Mandarin. I found Shih Tzu puppies on greenfieldpuppies.com; a great website where you can find dogs from the African Boerboel to the Yorkshire terrier. My mom researched while I was at school and I researched after I finished my homework. We found a litter of 5 from one of the Shih Tzu breeders in Pennsylvania. When we called them, we found out only one puppy was left and the breeder named her Muffin. We also saw a Maltese puppy and his name was Ollie. I showed both the puppies to my dad and he recommended calling both the breeders. When my mom called both the breeders, we found out that Muffin was available for adoption but Ollie’s breeder didn’t answer.
We checked when we could go and get Muffin and it was Memorial Day weekend the following week. We had the time to take the long trip. Woo hoo! Then the Maltese breeder answered, but it was unfortunately too late. We had already made up our minds and were going for Muffin. I was in disbelief that was actually going to get a dog after all these years!!! We had to drive all the way to Pennsylvania and I was ready for it! The day before we left, we got all the important dog stuff such as toys, food, bed, crate, etc. from Petco. I was so excited when we were at the breeder’s doorstep. When we called the breeder she came outside holding Muffin. She was the cutest furball! My parents were looking at the papers and asking questions while I was playing with her. She was running super fast. Then I put her on a leash. She hated it and began chewing on it; running around to get it off. Then she walked up to the breeder’s pet cat because she wanted to play. The cat ignored her and walked away. Then we got her to the car along with her leash, collar, food, toy and papers. We took her outside to go to the bathroom before the long drive home. As it was raining, we had to take a wet dog home in the car. At the beginning, she was a little scared because she had never been in the car before, especially with total strangers. She slept within 30 minutes into the drive but woke up a lot because of the bumps. Then she threw up! We got worried and called the breeder; she said that Muffin was just carsick. She slept again and we gave her some toys to chew on. When we got home, Muffin looked around and got settled. We gave her some more toys and fed her. The first few days, she woke up 1 to 2 times in the middle of the night.
Now Muffin is fully adjusted at home and sleeps through the night. She loves to meet new people, chew on her leash, my flip-flops and everything else. And she loves to play all the time.
Before we wrap up my story about adopting my first dog, let me give you a few important tips as you consider your own.
1. Start by getting permission from your parents.
2. Research a breed you like. Get a few backup breeds just in case.
3. Find a breeder on greenfieldpuppies.com website that has litters. Someone you can trust.
4. Expand the radius of your search if you cannot find something nearby.
5. Talk to them and confirm the litter availability and pay the deposit.
6. Get your essentials ready like food and water, bowls, toys, bed, crate, poop bags, pee pads (need those), a collar, leash and id tags.
7. Pick your puppy and take it home.
8. Have fun!
What you need for a Shih Tzu
Continuing the story about my puppy who is growing up fast….Muffin has now turned 6 months old! She has grown much bigger and learned a lot more commands. She has learnt to follow - sit, come, go get your toy, drop it, leave it and down. She has stayed home alone for 3 hours already! Now that I have had her for a few months and our entire family revolves around her needs, I thought I should talk about what you need for a Shih Tzu Puppy.
Shih Tzu’s don’t need much exercise, so a short walk every day is good enough. Shih Tzu’s are not outdoor dogs so getting a doghouse isn’t ideal. Muffin loves walks and likes to play on the deck; we do not leave her outside though. They need to be watched outside because eagles and hawks can pick them up, along with small coyotes.
Shih Tzu’s are very picky eaters; you need to pick a food they like. Muffin did not like three foods, so we got her a Shih Tzu Plan food which she loves very much. Some dog food companies such as Purina and Royal Canine specialize in Shih Tzu food. When you switch foods you have to gradually switch to the new foods. On the first day of a new food you need to mix 25% new food and 75% old food. Then on the second day 50% new food and 50% old food, and so on until it is 100% new food. I think we have finally settled down on the type of food she likes!
Shih Tzu’s are very adaptable dogs who are great at living in apartments and big houses. They barely shed, and don’t have to go to the bathroom very often. They often have separation anxiety, so as puppies they should not be kept alone for a long time. They are not yippy like other small dogs and rarely bark unless hurt, hungry, have to go to the bathroom or frustrated. They are great for all ages and bond especially well with older kids (10 - 18) and with the elderly.
Shih Tzu’s are great companions; in fact they were actually bred to be companions! Some people even refer to them as ‘therapy dogs’. They are loyal, clever, playful, alert, happy, gentle, friendly and outgoing. Muffin has all of these traits. The only cons of their behavior are that they can be difficult to housetrain. They can also be a bit grumpy sometimes. They are definitely attention seeking dogs and love being around you. Muffin hardly used her play pen, and is usually around the chairs near the kitchen island, or below the dining area chairs. I would say that’s her favorite spot. They can be left alone for 8 hours maximum. They also love being around humans and other dogs.
Before I wrap up here is the simplified version!
- Shih Tzu’s do not need much exercise, they will get all of it from a short walk
- They are picky eaters, I recommend a Shih Tzu diet
- They can live in all environments, they barely shed and they don’t bark
- They are great companions
Ayan Mishra is 10 years old and lives in Shrewsbury with his mom and dad. He is going to the 6th grade and is an avid swimmer and likes to play basketball and tennis.