Friday, August 19, 2016

Tsuki Appreciation Day

On this day 8 years ago, I adopted a shih-tzu mix named Tsuki from a poor excuse of an animal shelter in Montana. At the time, I was 16 years old, but I wanted a lap dog that would function as a standalone bed warmer, as my room in MT was poorly insulated. When I saw Tsuki stuffed into a 5X5ft cage with five other more rambunctious dogs, it was clear he needed a better place to live. The tag described him as "Zuki, Shih-tzu cross, 7-10 years old". Once I paid his adoption fee and brought him outside, he jumped into our van. Clearly he didn't want to be brought back.

A while later we took him to the veterinarian to get him a check-up, learning at that time that the dog I'd adopted was Tsuki, not Zuki, and 15 years old, not 10 years old. He also was underweight to the point the vet had began to chew me out, not understanding the situation until I said I'd adopted him from a notable, "no-kill" shelter in our city. If Tsuki hadn't been adopted within the month, he would've died of neglect- his ears were dirty to the brink of infection, and his teeth needed cleaned, despite the fact the people at the shelter told me he had had his teeth cleaned already.

Tsuki settled quite easily into our household, despite the fact that we already had a dog (Jewels, my first baby) and a cat (Tiger, my brother's cat, who didn't quite prepare me for the wrecking ball who is George). For the first week I "owned" him, he would not let me out of his sight, and didn't bark. One day, I carelessly left a room without giving him advance notice, and from then on, he barked whenever he felt like it (which wasn't frequently), and often for no reason at all. He had some separation anxiety, which led to a great escape from our dog run- he escaped, then leapt into a neighbor's car, who promptly brought him back to a shelter (but not the same one). Tsuki spent two nights of hard time, due to said shelter being closed the next day. His release fee cost us more than his adoption fee had in the first place.

Due to my vet's office having been involved in his care beforehand, I eventually learned why Tsuki ended up in the hellish "no kill" shelter to begin with- his owner died, leaving five shih-tzus behind. A groomer at the vet's office was taking care of them and almost found them a home, but then his owner's next of kin decided it would be a good idea to take them all to this "no kill" shelter. The groomer, was forced to pay $300 for two of the shih-tzus she felt were least likely to find a home, despite the fact that the shelter hadn't done any vet work for the dogs yet and they were elderly like Tsuki. There was also an explanation for Tsuki's odd tendency to jump in anyone's car- his former owner used to take all his shih-tzus for car rides for fun.

Tsuki and Torrie
Unfortunately, due to his age, Tsuki died almost three years after we adopted freed him. He was a month shy of 18 years old, and the oldest dog we've ever had. He outlived Jewels, my first dog, despite the fact that she was younger, and broke in a new young whippersnapper for us, Torrie. I will never regret adopting Tsuki, despite his short time with us- he was alternately the most loving and stubborn pet I have ever owned. He also had the semi-magical power of bringing smiles to people's faces- he was cute, but also kinda ugly (his front legs resembled seal flippers, and he had a benign chest tumor we referred to as his "airbag"), but despite having a darn cute Dorkie now, Tsuki was a dog who made people wave at him with a smile.

The purpose of Tsuki Appreciation Day is:

-To celebrate past pets in our lives.

-To celebrate elderly pets in our lives.

-To bring attention to the fact that senior dogs make great pets... and sadly, they seldom attract much attention in shelters.

-To inform the general public that even "no kill" shelters can be cruel to their animals- the only way to know shelters aren't cruel for sure is to investigate them thoroughly yourself before donating and/or adopting.

Which elderly and/or former pets made a lasting impression on you? Would you consider adopting a senior pet?


  1. I found an adult pregnant cat on my aunt's back porch drinking the water she had set out for her own cat. It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I named her Sparrow because her brown and black markings reminded me of a sparrow's. I took her home and after she hgad her five kittens we had her spayed. The vet said she was about three years old. I had her with me all through both of my college stints, and when I went on the road she stayed with my aunt each time. She died a month before Sebastian was born, and if the vet was right about her age she was 22 years old. She was with me from 16-35. I think of all of my pets she left the biggest hole in my heart because she was there for so many distinct life changes and events. I would certainly adopt a senior pet! Tsuki was a cutie. :)

    1. I love the stories of the pets that find you- we had a few cats like that at our old house, but they eventually mysteriously disappeared back wherever they came from. I can't even think of which pet I've had in my life the longest- I think it would either be my mom's cat Sally Ann (who enjoyed biting small inquisitive children such as myself) or Tiger, my brother's cat. I had Tsuki the least amount of time of any pet I've owned, but whenever I see a dirty pile of laundry out of the corner of my eye, I always think I see him (he loved to roost on top of those).
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Sparrow's story, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. Tsuki sounds like a wonderful dog. I am glad you saved her and were able to make her final years happy ones. :-) My mom's dog is elderly and such a sweetheart. She adopted Allie from a shelter on a Senior Adopt a Senior day. Poor Allie gets picked on by my cat Gracie when she visits, but for the most part, she gets along well with the cats. Someday I may adopt another dog. It's been three years since I had to say goodbye to my Riley, who I adored immensely.

    1. That's great that your mom adopted a senior dog! It's tragic, but a lot of senior dogs (and by senior I mean 7-ish) were surrendered by their owners while I worked at the shelter- they were simply too "old" for their "owners"- that made me sad. Poor Allie can probably relate to my dog Keisha, who is hassled by George on his naughtier days.
      It's always hard when you lose a pet- I adopted Torrie a few weeks after my dog Jewels died, and I think it was a bit too soon- I was constantly comparing the two dogs and favoring the milder manners of Jewels (she was mild mannered because she wasn't 2 years old any more). I'm sorry for your loss.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle

  3. This is such a sad reality that animals are constantly neglected day after day. At my humane society, they've told us that they get plenty of animals that people got as kittens or puppies but then once they grew up and needed more care, they just dumped them at the shelter. And while no-kill shelters are wonderful for that policy alone, they can only handle so much before animals start slipping through the cracks. I adopted my two cats from that humane society and hopefully I'll be able to give others a loving home too in the future.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Yeah, I saw that at the no-kill shelter I worked at too. It was strange because at the shelter I worked at, to even see the dogs/cats you have to fill out paperwork, and you'd think that would deter the people who wanted a puppy to raise and then leave with us (with various behavioral problems of course, because puppies don't know better). It's too bad that people don't feel like spaying or neutering their pets is a priority, because we would have a more manageable pet population (and no need for euthanizing perfectly well animals) if that was the case.
      I've found that the animals I have adopted from the shelter are often more bonded to me than the ones I adopted from other families- I think they are more grateful to have a home. :)
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Laura!
      ~Litha Nelle


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