Home Features FINAL COMMENTS ON SMALL EXOTIC BREEDS WHICH HAVE FOUND HOME IN GUYANA...
Using DNA analyses, the Pekinese have been revealed as one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. These small, long haired, snub-nosed dogs were bred in China for centuries – at least since the Tang dynasty (618 – 907 CE). In fact, artists painted them with Emperors in China’s Imperial Courts, where they were considered sacred – perhaps because they were thought to look like lions (exalted symbols in Budhism). In fact, the Pekinese breed (remember, Peking was the Capital of China, and I won’t get into the romanization of the spelling and pronunciation) could only be owned by Royalty.
An extremely small version of the Pekinese breed was actually a guard dog. Go figure! It seems the small examples of the Pekinese breed were called “sleeve dogs”, because they were carried by noblemen in their billowing sleeves – and would therefore protect the owners from pick-pockets and petty thieves. That aggressive nature has trickled down over the centuries, and has remained part of the nature of even the cutest Pekinese.
[Remember that, in a recent “Pet Care” article, I mentioned it must be terrifying for dogs – living in constant fear of larger dogs and in an environment where all living things, including humans, are so much larger and could inflict pain (even if only by accident) on a relatively small and innocuous breed of dog].
The Pekinese are the perfect pet for an apartment or small house, for even though they are playful and love exercise, they do not appreciate long walks. They make loyal and faithful companions, but according to the “Dog Encyclopedia”, they can be jealous of children and strangers (guests, vets), and other dogs.
The Pekinese are characterized as being “dignified and courageous, yet sensitive and definitely having minds of their own. This latter characteristic would make this breed difficult to train. Of course, their loving caregivers may not accept this description of the Pekinese breed.
THE LHASA APSO
This dog was first bred in Tibet as a watchdog for temples and monasteries. The Lhase Apso was first brought to Europe via India in the 1920s.
Over the last couple of decades, veterinarians have encountered a few examples of this breed here the Caribbean, including Guyana, and can attest that this small, hardy dog is a great walking companion. The problem is that, being cute, all fellow walkers want to interrupt the walk to pet and converse with this affectionate animal. The thin hairs, if long and flowing, are not difficult to groom. But, as usual with dogs coming from cold climates in mountainous areas, they need a lot of extra and specific attention.
THE SHIH TZU
I am compelled to discuss this breed – even if only briefly – because my daughter’s Shih Tzus (with a bit of Maltese) are the ones I know best on a very personal level.
“Rossi”, the female, knows that I am a sucker for her doleful eyes when she wants something to nibble. “Sambar”, the male, just rolls over and expects a belly rub.
One of my clients would be especially annoyed with me for writing any comment that is not superlative of her Shih Tzu pet. It is simply quite true. This breed is intelligent and energetic, and just loves to be part of the family.
Nowadays, the Shih Tzu is one of the world’s most popular toy breeds. Like the Lhasa Apso (see text above), the Shih Tzu – notwithstanding its dignified carriage – makes an affectionate and friendly pet.
I am told that “Shih Tzu’ means “Little Lion” in many of the major Chinese languages.
The hair coat sheds very little hair, but the long coat needs grooming often (3-4 times weekly). If kept, as advised by caregiver’s veterinarian, allergy sufferers should not have a problem with having a Shih Tzu as a companion animal.
THE BICHON FRISE
The Bichon Frise is a descendant of the French Water Dog, one of Europe’s oldest water dogs, with ancestors dating back to the Middle Ages, and has contributed genetically to many other breeds.
Bichon Frises are adaptable pets which are quite compatible with children. They are constantly alert and curious. They are definitely not aggressive (“lovers, not fighters”). I agree with the statement that they do not understand the concept of “strangers”. “Strangers”, for them, are just friends they haven’t met yet. They can live on farms or in city dwellings – and feel quite at home in any environment.
Bichon Frises are highly sociable, but can be left alone. They bond easily with caregivers, and those like me, who visit with truncated regularity. They have worked out which is the best methodology to get attention.
These dogs have independent streaks. They can leave the security of the yard to chase a duck, placing themselves in potentially dangerous situations traffic-wise.
Once well cared for by their owners, who follow the vet’s advice and administer prophylactic interventions (vaccines, anti-parasitic treatments, etc), the Bichon Frise has a life span in excess of 14 years (on average).
So, dear readers, we have given advice about large and small exotic canine breeds coming into Guyana, and which can exist reasonably ailment-free, if one can recognize the difficulty level associated with the caring and rearing of the breeds. If one cannot follow the advice/instructions pertaining to these difficult-to-manage breeds, then one should have second (and multiple) thoughts about procuring such potentially problematic pets. After all, we do want your companion animal to have a happy and “forever home”.
Thank you for your calls and discussions (and advice) pertaining to this series of the Pet Care column.
Next week, we may commence with a new series – sharing thoughts about companion animal geriatrics; viz, how to deal with your pet as it exhibits genuine signs of ageing.