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Mama’s Rants

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Last 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 [...]

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.

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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

The Ultimate List of What Dogs Can Eat

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You always hear about what dogs cannot eat – like chocolate, grapes, avocadoes, onions – but sometimes finding information on what dogs can eat is more difficult. Since dogs are so irresistibly cute, it’s easy for humans to fall prey to their pup’s sweet stare as he or she looks at you with those adorable [...]

Foods Dogs Can eatYou always hear about what dogs cannot eat – like chocolate, grapes, avocadoes, onions – but sometimes finding information on what dogs can eat is more difficult. Since dogs are so irresistibly cute, it’s easy for humans to fall prey to their pup’s sweet stare as he or she looks at you with those adorable eyes.

“Give me a bite, Mama?”

Since you’re only human (unless you’re a dog reading this), you’ve probably succumbed and given your dog a table scrap, or two. Most pet owners have a habit of feeding their dogs little bits of human food occasionally – maybe for a special occasion, like the holidays, or when your dog is sick.

But, what exactly can dogs eat? What human foods are safe for dogs?

Helpful Tip: Because not all dogs are alike, you may want to only give your dog a tiny nibble of your food. Your dog may be allergic, or have a negative reaction to it. He or she can have an upset tummy, diarrhea, or even throw up. So always start slow when introducing your human food to your dog.

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Happy Birthday, Gracie Lu

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It's official. Gracie Lu Nguyen-Lee is no longer a puppy. She is now officially a dog, and must only eat adult dog food. *Sniffs* It is a very bitter sweet time for her mama. On this day, May 8 in the year 2010, my sweet baby entered into the world. Her doggie mama was a [...]

It’s official. Gracie Lu Nguyen-Lee is no longer a puppy. She is now officially a dog, and must only eat adult dog food. *Sniffs* It is a very bitter sweet time for her mama. On this day, May 8 in the year 2010, my sweet baby entered into the world. Her doggie mama was a yellow/tan shih tzu, and her doggie father was all black. Very strange that Gracie ended up being a Black and White Shih Tzu. But she’s adorable nevertheless.Gracie got a new dress, thanks to Mama, and a lovely assortment of bows for her fuzzy hair. (Of course, she also got lots of new toys, too.) Happy Birthday, Gracie Lu.

Mommy loves you very much!

 

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It has been a crazy last few weeks. Gracie, the Shih Tzu will soon no longer be a shih tzu puppy but a dog. That's right - her birthday is this Sunday, May 8. She will be one years old. Here's Gracie in her new little outfit. She's my cheerleader. Isn't she cute? Unless you [...]

It has been a crazy last few weeks. Gracie, the Shih Tzu will soon no longer be a shih tzu puppy but a dog. That’s right – her birthday is this Sunday, May 8. She will be one years old.

Here’s Gracie in her new little outfit. She’s my cheerleader. Isn’t she cute?
Unless you have lived underneath a rock, you probably heard about the tornadoes that ravished the Southern states – Mississippi and Alabama getting the brunt of it.
Daddy’s house is in northern Alabama, and we were without power for roughly five days. No damage, minus a tomato plant that was uprooted. But my little Gracie was one scared Shih Tzu puppy. All that thunder, and not knowing where her Mama was scared her.
I didn’t leave work in time, so I actually drove through the area where the tornado had hit. (Not realizing it.) At one point when driving, I looked up at the sky and thought, “Geez… How can people tell the difference between funnel clouds and storm clouds?” The clouds did look like big, fat funnel clouds in the distance. Which now I am pretty sure it was a tornado!
The rain was pelting my car like crazy, and every single road I drove through had overturned trees. So I had to turn around. Another road was flooded. After awhile, I got annoyed and started driving through flooded roads. Most of them were shallow…. Then, I hit ONE hugely flooded road, and at one point, I looked down and the water was almost up to my car handle… VERY scary. It took me almost three hours to get home.
Gracie was SO excited to see her Mama. And after that, she did not want to leave Mama’s side. We were without electricity, but Gracie cuddled up to Mama and gave me lots of love.
(I apologize for my horrid appearance in the below photo. There was no electricity and we were both exhausted.)
The next day, it was time for Mama, Daddy, and Gracie to go on a trip. We ended up going to Chattanooga to see Lookout Mountain. I will post those photos soon.
My little Shih Tzu puppy had become so upset that she had to be constantly held. We were out of our element, and she didn’t know what was happening. Where we were going. But she knew Mama was there, so I basically carried her in a baby sling for the next few days. Wherever we went, she was carried.
And when I left the car, she was very worried….
But the electricity finally came back on, and all was good in the end. Gracie, the Shih Tzu puppy is back to being happy. And Not anxious. She can’t wait for her birthday.

Fun the Snow

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Some dogs HATE snow, and others love them. I am fortunate that Gracie absolutely LOVES playing in the snow. It's her newest past time.With all of the snow that we've been getting this winter, she's had ample time to roam around. She actually loves eating the snow. Do you see how her precious face is [...]

Some dogs HATE snow, and others love them. I am fortunate that Gracie absolutely LOVES playing in the snow. It’s her newest past time.With all of the snow that we’ve been getting this winter, she’s had ample time to roam around. She actually loves eating the snow.

Do you see how her precious face is just caked in snow? Oh, it’s fun for her. She loves licking and eating the cold stuff. And she never seems to get too cold. She could run and frolic in it all day if I allowed her to.

 

Christmas Fun with the Furbabies

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Christmas may be over, but the memories of it still make me smile. It was a wonderful occasion for my entire family. For my immediate family - my mom, dad, younger sister - as well as my extended "family." The furbabies had a blast as well. This was Gracie and Canh (my parents' new puppy)'s first Christmas. [...]

Christmas may be over, but the memories of it still make me smile. It was a wonderful occasion for my entire family. For my immediate family – my mom, dad, younger sister – as well as my extended “family.” The furbabies had a blast as well.

This was Gracie and Canh (my parents’ new puppy)’s first Christmas. It wasn’t Mr. Pumpkin’s first Christmas, so he was just bored. He enjoyed spending time in the new cat bed that Santa brought. (Sorry I couldn’t get a better photo. He was just so squirmy. And cats never do what you want them to.)

Gracie enjoyed spending time with her Santa and wondering what Mama was doing with all that wrapping paper. And she had to try to eat a few corners off presents. But alas, it was fun anyway.

Gracie loves her Santa Claus.. and her reindeer too. I imagine she’ll continue playing with him until he gets too ratty for her.
This has to be my favorite photo of Gracie. Isn’t she so adorable with her Santa?
You see all the bows on the ground? That’s what happens when Gracie gets around presents.
Here’s Santa when he gets a much needed break from Gracie!

Bored Shih Tzu

“I’m all tuckered out and waiting for Santa to arrive”

When Christmas Eve came around, Gracie and I traveled to Nashville to see my parents and her “brother” Canh. He’s getting pretty big, and the two look so alike that my family had a hard time telling them apart. But I definitely can. I am her mama, after all. Here’s Canh with my sister…

Chanh Shih Tzu and Bo
The pair are opening their presents with my mom. You see their toy shoes on the ground?
Can you tell them apart?
(Hint: Gracie is sitting up with her ears flopped over)
Opening Presents Shih Tzu
Canh got a new sweater. He’s looking so handsome!
Helen and Chanh Shih Tzu
(There he is with my American grandmother. She’s 96 years old young.)
It wouldn’t be Christmas without one family photo with all the babies together. As you can imagine, it was quite a challenge getting everyone together!

I hope that you had a Merry Christmas! Enjoy the Holidays!

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