Our 14 year-old Lhasa Apso was put out in the cornfield recently. It was a bit of serendipity how I found that puppy 14 years ago, but coincidence is no stranger to me. In fact, I will bet good money that if I had my fortune told by the best voodoo mystic at the World's Largest County Fair, she'd say, “Weird shit happens to you all the time, doesn't it?” And then she'd say, “Don't expect that to change.”
The Lhasa was all my idea and even though my grade school (at the time) daughter was thrilled with a puppy, it required some salesmanship to make my wife happy about having a dog in our formerly cat-dominated house. We were between cats at the time, but it wasn't long until a stray kitten was found which is still calling this home oh, so many years later.
When we introduced kitten to puppy, it was happy fun time for both of them. They'd entertain us with circus acrobatics for hours on end. However; as they grew older their relationship started looking a whole lot more like tolerance than fun. The cat had a freer life; however, and that might have been part of it. We kept the garage door open just enough for her to crawl under and there was a pet door where she could come in and out of the house at will. The Lhasa could go out the pet door, too, but would only find herself in a garage with nothing to do but come back inside.
I did try to walk the dog (without a leash) for a mile or so each day. It was a hilly neighborhood, and toward the end some days we'd go outside and she'd just look at me as if to say, “Not today. Please?” You could tell her hips were hurting when she'd stand up, and sometimes she'd fall going up the one stairstep into the house. We gave her medicine which seemed to help, but it was when she quit eating that I knew the end was near. She'd shrunk from 23 pounds down to under 18 and refused to eat a bit of bacon on the day I said, “That's it. We have to let her go.”
She'd always been “my dog,” according to my wife. As in, “Let me tell you what YOUR DOG did today, or, “Come see what YOUR DOG just did.” I would always remind her of the time she found a rat in the kitchen and MY DOG leapt to action upon hearing her scream and tore that fucking rat's ass up.
So, even though she was MY DOG, guess who cried the hardest as our angel of a vet stuck the needle in to put her down?
Not working and being on SSDI means I'm spending more time around the house alone these days (my wife still works full-time), so it wasn't but a couple of weeks until I said, “I've got to get another dog.” We'd just moved into a new house we had built with doggy doors both to the back porch as well as to the fenced in back yard (a feature we lacked at the previous house due to a steep hill being our “back yard.”
So we looked at some dogs on-line at the Humane Society and saw a couple that might do. What I really wanted was a King Charles Spaniel partly as a tribute to William F. Buckley but moreso because they are touted as the ultimate lapdog. Being ill has turned me into a bit of a needy pussy, and my Lhasa wanted to be near me but not on me. In fact, I could park myself somewhere and take a tape measure and she would be parked exactly four feet from me. I wanted a smaller dog who wanted to be on me.
So we went to the Humane Society and looked at the dogs in person. None of them were what I wanted. They seemed scared and timid. We left, deciding to look at other “rescue” places. Now I want you to calculate the odds of what happened next. Got your calculator ready? OK; start figuring.
As we're walking back to the car, I notice someone behind us. I turn around and it's a black couple about our age. They have the cutest little doggie on a leash; a dog which looked like a smaller version of our Lhasa. I say, “What's the story here?” The lady tells me that they got the dog (a mix between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Shih Tzu) for their granddaughter but the girl isn't taking care of the dog as she'd promised to do (a common story, as I'm sure you know) and that they don't have time to care for her properly; she's spending 12 hours a day in a kennel. They planned to leave her at the Humane Society but were told they didn't have room right now. I say, “Well, just put her in my back seat." My wife says, "Shouldn’t we think about this?" I say, "Nope. This is how stuff happens."
So we've had Buffy (previous name "Baby" changed by my wife to her favorite TV character with no blowback from me), for a couple of months now and it's a joy. She's just what I wanted; a dog about half as big (she's around 8 pounds) who wants to be on you at all times. This can get a bit annoying, but she's gone from spending all day in a kennel to a house where she can run outside at any time and wear herself out in a big blue world. She ain't slowing down.
When you get a mixed breed; and this one comes with proof of both parents being full blooded, you can't be sure which traits will be evident from either breed. The black couple had taken perfect care of her; all the shots, spayed, even had three teeth pulled (which is sometimes recommended for this mix). We got very lucky because I've been annoyed by the incessant yippy barks of Yorkies. Buffy has a sharp-toned bark, but it's not that annoying. It's not a "yip." Unlike the Lhasa, she doesn't have a heavy undercoat of fur; just the wispy hair like a Yorkie. So she doesn’t really shed. Short-haired dogs with "fur" shed; dogs with hair more like human hair don't. Or at least not a lot. Buffy looks like Ringo; the third one down.
She's a bundle of energy and it's easy to see how she'd get on someone's nerves if they weren't a "dog person." However; I tend to judge people's hearts by this "dog person" metric. If you enjoy a good slobbery kiss from a dog you just met, you're probably OK in my book. If not, more research will have to be done.
The interaction with the cat has been fun to watch. The cat is older now and the dog is still mostly a puppy at one year old. The dog wants to play and the cat does, too; however, this is “her house” now, and Buffy is an interloper. Tables have turned from when she was the “new kid” with the Lhasa. For a while, the cat just stayed outside. My wife felt sorry for her and didn't like this arrangement, so I began forcing them to be inside together and they're now working their way toward some sort of detente. It's really funny as hell to watch it happen.
So is this a mixed breed you'd want? If you would like 8 pounds of long-haired energy bouncing off of you, yes. If that sounds like a nightmare to you, no.