A Close Companion: Shakespeare the Shih Tzu

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by Randal A. Burd, Jr.

As I sit at the kitchen table finishing a lunch consisting of Ramen noodles and a spicy chicken sandwich, I feel a familiar, frantic pawing on my leg and look down into the pleading (read this “begging”) eyes of my eight-year-old, black-and-white Shih Tzu named Shakespeare. Let me share with you how he grabbed my heart from the beginning.

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Shakespeare looking his cutest!

During the summer of 2006, my wife and I decided that even though our first child was on the way, it was time for us to add a four-legged family member to our imminent entourage.

I had my eyes set on what seemed to be a full-bred boxer puppy, which someone had left at the local animal shelter where I volunteered. I grew up with a female brindle boxer named Ginger, who died shortly after I met my wife (I am fairly certain the two events were unrelated). My wife had grown up with a male black-and-white Shih Tzu named Buster, and from there it is pretty simple to see where this story is heading.

We Find a Shih Tzu For Sale

We set out to find us a Shih Tzu for sale and were lucky enough to discover a professional Shih Tzu breeder nearby. It was the perfect situation to make a deal on this ideal pet. For whatever reason, this breeder’s puppy sales had slowed down drastically towards the end of the summer, so much so, that a six-month-old male from the previous litter had yet to be purchased. The breeder had brought him out front and put him in an area all by himself.

He was the first puppy which caught my attention when we arrived. I was drawn to his friendly demeanor; he seemed to crave attention, and I was eager to oblige. My wife went to look at the younger puppies, unaware I was already sold on the first puppy I had made contact with. Before long, he was ours. As I was a new English teacher, Shakespeare the Shih Tzu had an appropriate name the minute we decided to take him home.

Shakespeare’s Temperament & Chewing Habit


Our first few months with Shakespeare took some adjustment. I do not know if it was because he was the runt of the litter, or what his excuse might be, but our new Shih Tzu puppy brought “clingy” to a whole new level. This anxious, insecure temperament came with a positive behavior — unlike most dogs I had known, Shakespeare seemed to have no desire to run away. The miniature schnauzers and boxers I had growing up would waste no time taking off down the street like a scalded cat if they had the opportunity to slip through an unwatched door left carelessly open. Shakespeare could (and still can) be let outside without a leash to do his business without fear that he will leave the yard.

Unfortunately, our anxious puppy also came with a nervous chewing habit. The unrelenting destruction of toys, shoes, and soiled diapers taught us patience and perseverance which has come in handy raising children! The fact that he has remained a cherished member of our household after causing significant chewing damage to the cedar chest we received as a wedding gift and after gnawing the baseboards in several rooms of our newly purchased home would indicate we have learned a great deal about forgiveness as well.

Our Cherished Love

After all is said and done, this puppy which climbed into the bassinet of our newborn daughter and snuggled against her to sleep, is a puppy which will be cherished in our household for all its years to come.



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