July 17, 2014

Celebrity Dog Trainer, Harrison Forbes Talks Shih Tzus and Doggie DNA Testing

Celebrity Pet Expert Harrison Forbes at the Nashville Pet ExpoLast weekend at the Nashville Pet Expo, Gracie Lu and I had the pleasure of listening to a talk about the importance of Doggie DNA Testing from Celebrity Dog Trainer and Pet Expert Harrison Forbes.  And this evening, I had the opportunity to interview Harrison Forbes directly about Doggie DNA Testing, Shih Tzus and Dog Training.

Harrison Forbes, originally from Jackson, TN – two hours away from where I grew up – has always had a love of animals and an interest in dog behavior, from the time he was 8 years old and started working for a dog trainer who owned a small kennel in Jackson. His friends and good connections allowed him to be around great trainers.

He has over 25 years as a dog trainer and animal behaviorist, and his experience has propelled him to become a pet expert and popular radio and TV host. He’s appeared on  national TV shows, including The View, The Today Show, CBS Morning Show, and more. He’s even trained dogs for Hollywood films – including Francis Ford Coppola’s film “The Rainmaker”. He is the New York Times bestselling author of “Dog Talk.”

He’s a pretty impressive guy. He makes Gracie Lu daydream of the day when she will become the world’s most famous shih tzu! And get to meet famous people, too!

Adorable Gracie Lu Shih Tzu in the Grass

Chatting about Shih Tzus

What I think is even more impressive about Harrison Forbes is the fact that he owns a Shih Tzu! He’s a muscular, manly guy and yet he owns the most adorable, fluffiest Shih Tzu. Meet Abigail Elizabeth, the 9-year-old Shih Tzu. She’s been around the raising of his kids and is a mellow, sweet girl.

Pet Expert Harrison Forbes and Abigail Elizabeth, His Shih Tzu

Photo Credit: Harrison Forbes’ Facebook Page

“I know a lot of shih tzus and the range of temperaments and behaviors is really wide. Our dog, Abigail is on the mellow side and easy going. But I have friends who have shih tzu who are bouncing off the wall, barking nonstop and wild,” Harrison said. “Part of that is genetics with the combination of the atmosphere the shih tzu is accustomed to.”

Like Abigail, Gracie Lu is pretty chill and relaxed. She is not a barker, except when it comes to other dogs. The moment that Gracie sees another dog, she goes crazy, barking – even aggressively and tries to run over to them. But when she gets close to another dog, she quietly sniffs them without any aggression or trouble. But the moment that the dog walks away, Gracie begins to growl and bark again. This behavior worries me, because Gracie Lu is such a wonderful dog in all other situations.

I asked Harrison about it, and he said, “This is fairly common among Shih Tzu. It’s a very aggressive call to play that is over the top. Abbie does the same thing. She sounds like a maniac, and then she goes up to them and she’s fine.”

Black Lab loves his Shih Tzu sisterBecause Gracie grew up around a black lab – do you remember Bo? - and now we live 400 miles away, she misses that.

“Dogs are pack animals. There’s a void that she misses and that can be frustrating. She’s barking at other dogs ‘I want to play,’ but they can’t play and that is frustrating. The barking is out of frustration,” Harrison explained.

To help Abigail with this exact same problem, Harrison took her to a doggie daycare, where she was around other dogs for eight hours a day. The socialization helped and mellowed her out.

I appreciated his advice and will be working on getting Gracie Lu more socialized with other dogs in the future. In the meanwhile, we will work to perfect the “High-Five Trick.”

Teaching Gracie Lu Shih Tzu How to do a High Five

Doggie DNA Testing

I didn’t know much about Doggie DNA testing before listening to Harrison Forbes’ talk, but it’s interesting to learn how advanced research has come in this field.

For many years, DNA testing only came from a blood test performed at a vet’s office. Now, it’s a simple cheek swab that you can do in the comfort of your home. You can buy a Wisdom Kit or one from Petsmart, Petco or from other retailers.

“Finding the DNA history of your dog can help predict behavior and the possibility of genetic problems that certain breeds have. From a behavior standpoint, it can help you predict the predisposition of behavior. If you’ve had a dog for a long time, DNA testing can help you understand the WHY to their behavior,” says Harrison.

A dog’s ancestry can influence your dog in many ways. Interesting traits and behaviors, like digging and barking could all be related to the dog’s breed or combination of breeds. It can help you understand more about why your dog does certain things, and help you create a tailored training regiment to suit his needs.

* * * * * *

Thank you to Harrison Forbes for taking time out of his schedule to chat with me. Tune into his new show, starting on August 14th, Pet Talk with Harrison Forbes, a one-hour talk show all about pets -including celebrity pet interviews, Ask the Vet, Ask the Trainer, and other interesting segments. We are super excited about it!

Adorable Gracie Lu Shih Tzu Hanging Upside Down

July 14, 2014

Hi! from the Nashville Pet Expo 2014


Adorable and cutest shih tzu ever, Gracie Lu
Hello from Nashville!

You haven’t seen my fluffy face in such a long time, because Mama has been super busy. She just launched a eco-friendly and organic pregnancy and baby store - Preggie Baby Boutique and she’s been super busy working on that website and fulfilling orders and all that fun stuff. I’ve been helping with the “de-stressing” part of it. Licks, cuddles and snuggles make Mama feel so much better, especially after a hard, overwhelming day!

Anyway, back to me!

Over the weekend, Mama and I visited my grandparents this weekend. Grandpa, Mama and me went to the Nashville Pet Expo! It’s a free event with lots and lots of exhibitors from all over. I think they have it every year, and it sounded fun so we went!

So this event is FREE and they let you bring your dogs! Mama carried me around in a baby sling, because she didn’t know how I would react being around so many other doggies and people. (That can be very stressful on a little doggie!) I was very happy to be in the sling, and I just looked at all the sights around me.

They bring in big name speakers and celebrity dogs to this expo. Shorty Rossi – aka the “Pit Boss” and Hercules made their appearance at the Pet Expo, along with Horrison Forbes, the Celebrity Pet Expert. Their was a costume contest (which I missed because it was too late in the day, and we were there earlier in the day).

There were so many different dogs there – big dogs, little dogs, and medium sized ones. We saw some huge Russian terriers (but didn’t get to snap their photo), along with normal breeds we see every day. Here are a few of the cute doggies we snapped photos of!

Adorable Chihuahua

Boxer with head on His owner's lap

Black Labrador Resting

Look at this cute pooch wearing a pink tutu (with hearts on it) - Mom totally wants to get that tutu for me. I would look super adorable, though I would hate every second of wearing that outfit. This was one of the exhibitor’s booths. I think they were a doggie store, selling collars. Look at all the colors and styles on that rack there! (AND her pink stroller! How neat!)

Adorable Dog in Tutu in Owner's Arms

I was in a baby sling but we saw lots of stylish doggie strollers that pet owners had!

Mama and I ran across this very cool booth. The Darling Dog Portrait Co was offering to take FREE photographs. They had a box of dress-up clothes for doggies, and you could get dressed up. Of course, Mama couldn’t help but make me dress up.

Darling Dog Portait Co

So here we are. I look so sad and pathetic, but yes, that is a Cinderella Tiara and hot pink feathers that Mama made me wear. So humiliating but at least Mama had a good time at my expense. I have started to detest getting dressed up, but my Mama still likes to make me — sometimes… when I put up with it.

Gracie Lu Shih Tzu in Princess Tiara

After my humiliating dress up experience, I got treats (of course!) Some of the other booths were from dog bakeries and doggie stores. Look at their tables full of healthy dog snacks and treats. Doesn’t it make your mouth water?

Nashville Pet Expo Booth

Nashville Pet Expo

We wanted to spotlight this booth, because we think it’s super cool. Dogs on Deployment is a non-profit, which offers foster homes to dogs and pets of soldiers who get deployed overseas. Isn’t that so cool? The dogs are taken care of by foster families while their owners are away fighting for our freedom. We love the idea.

dogs on deployment

This was another cool booth we saw. It’s Pinups for Pitbulls – a calendar of beautiful girls and their dogs, and it is all about raising awareness to rally against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and Breed Discriminatory Laws (BDL). Cool, huh?

Pinups for Pitbulls

At the Nashville Pet Expo, we also saw lots of doggies from rescues who needed homes. Like this adorable pup from Small Breed Rescue of East Tennessee. Isn’t she adorable? We wish we could have adopted her. She’s so beautiful.

Rescued Pom for Adoption from Small Breed Rescue of East TN

All in all, we had such a fun time and hope we can go again next year!

May 8, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today is my birthday! I turned four today, and mama has been reminiscing about how fast time passes. I used to be teeny tiny.

Can you believe I wasn’t even as tall as a single step?

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Mom wishes she had taken more photos of me when she had the chance but they didn’t have fancy iPhones back then that made taking photos a snap.

Mom got me when I was 6 weeks old and I’ve been with her ever since. Here is the photo of me that Mama saw that made her have to have me!

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It was love at first sight! Mommy and me have been in love for a long time. I was so cute when I was little! Mommy and me were quite an adorable pair. I was her very first dog that she owned. She wanted a Shih Tzu since high school and she is so thankful for me every day. I make her sad says even better!

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Here we are today! I think we still look like the perfect couple! Though I am much fluffier now than I was when I was a wee Shih Tzu.

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Today I had a super awesome birthday! I got spayed last week and my stitches finally came out! Yeah! Though I still have to wear that stupid cone of shame for another few days since I am notorious for cleaning myself and mommy doesn’t want me to risk an infection. But I got to go to the park afterwards and it was fun, fun!

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I have the best life with my mom. Here’s to hoping the next four years will be just as fun as the last four.

Love you all!
Gracie Lu

April 24, 2014

Beautiful Brown Eyes

Who has the prettiest brown eyes?

Gracie Lu Shih Tzu with Sweet Brown Eyes

Um … me, that’s who!

Mama snapped this photo of me on the job. We were having a book signing at Mama’s workplace, and here I was, looking so sweet and adorable, gazing up at my Mama and she just had to take a photo of me! Aren’t I cute? And don’t I have the sweetest puppy eyes you’ve ever seen!

April 12, 2014

Happy Girl

I’m happy it’s spring! Yeah! Warm weather!

happy shih tzu

March 12, 2014

Hanging Upside Down, Eating Flowers

With all the weather getting warmer, I’m ready for spring. What a fun life it is for a shih tzu, just hanging up side down Mama’s lap.

Fluffy Shih Tzu Hanging Upside down

And trying to eat flowers.

Gracie Lu Shih Tzu eating flowers

(Don’t worry – I didn’t get sick eating the flowers. Actually, I think I just licked the flowers, or maybe I ate the grass. But the flowers were pretty, aren’t they? These photos were taken last spring, so no long-term harm came to me.)

And here are my toofers. Aren’t I adorable?

Continue reading “Hanging Upside Down, Eating Flowers”….→

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