Our Shih Tzu, Starburst, has an underbite. Whenever she smiles, her bottom teeth prominently show. This is what the dog looks like when she is happy:
It makes me laugh to see her smile because, sometimes, I worry that she suffers from depression and anxiety. There are days when she is completely listless. She won’t get out of her bed. Some days, she becomes impatient, angry, and demanding; other days, she is very quiet and remains distant and aloof.
Lately, however, Starburst has been very happy. She jumps around excitedly whenever I walk in the front door. She runs around in circles and then stops right in front of me. She smiles while her tail wags so hard and fast her little backside bounces off the floor. Then she runs down the hallway and tumbles over with her bottom flipping up over her head. She prances back into the living room and jumps excitedly up onto the couch and begs for attention until I rub behind her ears. “Hey, little Fur Face,” I’ll tease her. But she doesn’t mind my name calling. She’ll roll over onto her back and wait for her belly to be rubbed. I usually avoid doing this, though. Starburst has a very sensitive spot on the right side of her body. If I accidentally brush over this area, she’ll sit up with a shriek and nip at my hand. I’ve learned the hard way not to be persuaded to rub her belly, even though she looks up at me with her big, brown puppy dog eyes. I’ll just shake my head at her, walk into my bedroom, and close the door behind me.
Starburst isn’t finished playing, though. Her favorite game is “Ding Dong Ditch.” She likes to scratch at my door while I’m working. I try to ignore her, but she keeps knocking until I finally get up from my chair and open the door. I look down the hallway and see the dog’s furry backside bouncing up and down as she runs back to the living room. I follow her only to find that she has jumped into her small, round bed and pretends to be asleep.
I go back into my bedroom and a few minutes later, the scratching begins again. I open the door, and Starburst is once more running back to her bed. She jumps onto the mattress and once more pretends to sleep. “Stop now, Starburst,” I’ll tell her. “Your not funny.”
But the situation happens again. I hear scratching at my door. I see a small dog racing down the hallway. I see her little body jerk into bed. She lays her head down and once more closes her eyes. This time, however, I just laugh at her. I walk over and pick her up. I cuddle her close and carry her back into the bedroom with me where she will fall asleep on my lap while I work on my novel or my poetry book. Sometimes, she’ll crawl underneath my bed where she snores and sniffs loudly as she enjoys her dreams.
There were some late nights when Starburst would visit my bedroom and become very agitated. I don’t know what it was, but something inside my closet upset her. She would stand stiff and straight in the middle of my room, staring intently and growling at something in the corner of my closet. There were some nights that she really freaked me out, too. Did she see…or sense…something that I couldn’t comprehend?
But last night, she was suddenly over her fear. As soon as she entered my bedroom, she went over to the closet and climbed in through the open wooden door. She then quickly created a small nest out of my shoes and promptly fell asleep. There was no growling or barking, no fear or agitation. She snored peacefully. And I slept much easier that night, too.
Starburst is also learning to have better manners and not be so impatient. Before, whenever she was hungry or thirsty, she would stand in the kitchen with her bowl in her mouth. She would fling the bowl, hitting me in the ankles with it, whenever I walked into the room. Oh, yes, I got the message: she needed food or water!
Starburst no longer behaves this way now, though. The other night, I walked into the kitchen to wash the dishes. I didn’t notice that her bowl was empty. Instead of throwing it at me, I suddenly heard a small cough. Seriously, the dog just started to emit dainty, little coughs. Ahha! Ahha! She sounded just like Ben Stiller in Zoolander when he thought he had the black lung. But she got my attention, and I filled her bowl. She looked up at me with a grateful smile, sipped slowly, and then gracefully walked out of the kitchen with her tail held high. She hadn’t been anxious or angry. She was courteous and kind. This made me very happy.
Starburst had had some health issues over the last few months. She had been suffering from digestive illnesses, and her right eye had become infected making it difficult for her to see. Mary, my sister-in-law, had taken Starburst to a series of vet appointments that include a few shots and several rounds of medication. The loving efforts of my sister-in-law and the doctor really has made a difference.
Starburst is returning to good health, and her personality has been affected in very positive ways. She is a perfect example of the mind/body connection. It is true for every living thing. When we are in good health, we are loving and kind. When we feel good about ourselves and practice love, our phsyical bodies heal. I smile now as Starburst comes into my room. And as she cuddles up on my lap and falls asleep, I wish good health and loving blessings on everyone of God’s precious creatures. God Bless You and Good Health!