Meet Kiwi

7:12 PM

I'm back on the blog! As you may know, especially if you follow this blog and read every posts (which you should totally do), you know that right after I came back from Lucknow on June 15, I dived into a busy schedule of kids art classes, then my mom came to visit. We celebrated my birthday, Ishita's birthday, and in the midst of all this action, we got a new dog.

Again, if you are a regular reader, you know that our beloved Jasmine passed away at nearly 13 years of age while we were in Lucknow, and we came home to a very empty home.
In fact, we knew for a while that we would never really go long without having another dog. We knew that even before Jasmine crossed the rainbow bridge, we were not that kind of people who could live a dog less existence.
What we knew for a while though, was that our next dog would be a smaller one, one more suited to the big city apartment life. Because let's face it, as fun as labradors or any bigger breed (and even desi street dogs) aren't really the most suited to live a Mumbai shoebox apartment life.

We got Jasmine in 2006, when we lived in Bangalore. Back then, we lived in a awesome rooftop flat with a huge terrace, in a neighbourhood that was your typical residential area with lots of space to walk an energetic dog, including a big dog friendly sports ground.
We moved out of that flat when Jazz was beginning to mellow down a little, straight into Navi Mumbai, then back in Bangalore and then finally back in Mumbai. Each of these subsequent moves taught us that big dog and apartment life doesn't really work too well. In Mumbai it's even hard to just walk your dog around because most housing societies won't even allow you to walk the dog in the compound, forcing you to head to the street, in the traffic and at the mercy of packs of stray dogs.

By the time we moved to a society that had no problem with dogs walking in the parking lot, Jasmine was an old lady that didn't feel like moving much, and the past 6 months have been the hardest ever because our beloved pooch could barely walk at all.
But, we knew, and still remember how hyper she once was. She was the type that could reach the kitchen counter, hop on sofas and bed with ease and run havoc inside the home if left alone even for less than an hour.
In the first 3 years of having Jasmine, we lost countless flip flops, laptop bags, and she even chewed my PAN card (Indian income tax number) along with everything else in my wallet. We lost a few packs of butter left on the kitchen counter, and even a few packs of bread and a few bunch of mint and coriander to our giant goof ball.

But, we were young, had no kids, and walking her twice a day for 45 minutes each was no biggie then. We didn't even have much in the name of furniture or home decor, and we sacrificed having throw cushions on the sofa for her.

13 years later, we are no longer in that space and frame of mind. We love dogs, we love our cat, but we also love having nice furnitures, paintings, and yes, throw pillow on the sofa. We also have a much smaller kitchen, with little in the way of storage space, so a dog that can go counter surfing was definitely not something we were willing to entertain, not with a cat whose food reside on said counter.

We had pretty much decided to go for a toy breed dog this time, and the more we researched, the more it became obvious that a Shih Tzu was the right fit for us.
When we came back to Mumbai, we decided to start asking around, and our vet called us the day after my mom arrived telling us he knew a family who was looking at finding a new home for their almost 2.5 months puppy after they realised she wasn't a good fit for them.

It was love at the first WhatsApp video, even my mom who isn't a dog person at all melted away. So, this adorable little female Shih Tzu made her great entry into our lives, just like that.
We decided to name her Kiwi, mostly because after Jasmine died, I started looking a dog websites and we came across the name, which I thought was fun, and was pretty much an instant hit with Ishita.

Now, as far as Shih Tzus are concerned, they are small dogs, but unlike other toy breeds, are relatively non yappy, though most websites warned that some dogs might need to learn to not bark at everything.
The websites also said that Shih Tzu are eager to please, and love love love being around people, but some said they could be difficult to train as they can have a stubborn streak. Needless to say I was prepared for that eventuality.

It turned out that Kiwi is a smart cookie, and as far as eagerness to please go, she score a 1000%, the girl started answering to her name in less than 24 hours, played fetch and actually brought the toy back to us everytime on day one, and she is fairly clear about where she should pee.
I say fairly, because, let's face it, she is a puppy and accidents do happen, but within a few days, she figured out it was more practical to find one or two dedicated spots inside the home to go pee-pee poo-poo and we just put some absorbant pads in those area. Since she doesn't have all of her puppy shots just yet, I don't walk her more than twice a day and cancelled the walk a few times because we are under the spell of the Mumbai monsoon as well.

It's difficult not to compare this puppy experience to the one we had with Jasmine, and we know they are two different breeds altogether, but so far we find it quite ironic that our tiny fluffy pooch fetches better than a dog that had the word "retriever" in her name.
With Jasmine we had to work really hard on getting her to just give us the ball back so we could throw it again, she was defiant, and enjoyed taking us for a ride. Kiwi, pretty much knows that we will throw her toy again if she gives it to us and so far we haven't had to even use food as a training aid.
Jasmine was a humongous foodie, and it was near impossible to get her to do anything without involving a doggie treat. Kiwi is just happy that we are happy with what she did and a pat on the head and a praise is really all she needs, talk about easy training. She is obviously in this annoying puppy nipping phase that comes with teething, but she is fairly good about snapping out of it if we tell her no firmly enough. The only thing where she is similar to Jasmine is when it comes to us leaving the home without her. She hates it, and she will bark ... a lot! But she seems to calm down pretty quickly now, because in 3 weeks of us having her, she went from still barking when we would return, to now being quiet and content and just plain old happy to see us. Jasmine didn't get the non stop barking out of her system until she was 4 or 5 years old.

As for Mittens you may ask? Well she wasn't much of a fan in the first week, she hid in the kitch in protest, and only came out while Kiwi was sleeping in her crate at night. The second week, she warmed up a little but would still hiss the instant Kiwi would stare at her.
Right now we are in that phase where Mittens is really curious about Kiwi, and Kiwi decided chasing the cat was boring enough, so they are frequently staying just feet apart without a hiss from Mittens. Kiwi has even already learned that if she wants Mittens to come close she should lie down still and wait for the cat to make the move. That's how smart that puppy is people!

As for me, I'm happy to have 2 happy home office assistant, one warming my desk and protecting my art supplies with her life, and the other to warm my feet. 

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  1. Congratulations on your new pet. I wish it good health. It is highly potable which is a big plus which also means it can sneak around doing its stuff undetected.

    Pets remind me that one family was locked inside their bedroom by their pet in our society. The dog wanted to stay in the bedroom but the family drove it out. A few people reached their other balcony. But the big problem was the how to deal with the big dog. So their dog handler was called. He reached to calm the dog. Their balcony door was opened and rest is history. I guess even little children do such thing. Perils of annoying your pet.

    1. No matter the size of the dog, proper training should be given from day one, this is sadly a thing that way too many people do not realise. They also do not think much about a breed's temperament and if they are prepared to deal with it.

      I see a lot of people who buy a big dog like a labrador or a german shepherd because they look good and are popular and that makes them feel important, but they have no idea about the exercise and training requirement.
      Likewise, many owners of small dogs have no issue letting them jump on people because "it's sooooo cute" or assume that small breed will just bark a lot and it is normal behaviour. They don't realise that as the owner, they are responsible to teach the dog what is acceptable or not, and yes some dog breeds are easier to train than others.

      When we got Jasmine, we knew that as a Lab she was going to need a lot of excercise, and we provided it, we were ready to provide it. When she was young and active, it was 45 minutes of walking...TWICE a day and we still played fetch, and trained her at home. That is a HUGE commitment, one that we now don't feel we can make, so we took a smaller breed after doing our research again.

    2. The fact that they had someone to handle/train the dog meant that they could not do it themselves. The dog had some issues of temperament also, which everybody was aware off but their tried to downplay. The dog owners in general are also callous in the way they let the dog poop anywhere. Dogs may be part of the family but they are menacing creatures for others, which they pet owners do not understand. They need to train their dogs just like they teach their children how to behave in a social environment. People are just not interested in investing in their pets.

      There is also the new trend of feeding dogs. This is some kind of a fad. People get down from their cars and feed dogs regularly. The dogs gather at that spot and occupy the area. They dirty the place and attack the passerby. This has become the new nuisance. Personal compassion at the expense of public nuisance.


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