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Ali came into my life as a little puppy, not quite six weeks old. Boy, was he a cute little guy! He was our second Shih Tzu. We had had Mai Lin in our lives for about a year and a half, and I knew that a Shih Tzu was an essential part of my household for the rest of my life. Ali was a “trade.” Mai Lin was expecting a little of pups within days, and we wanted to bring Ali home before the births so that Mai Lin would be more likely to accept him than she might after the babies arrived and her protective instincts set in. Later, one of her male pups, Pandi Bear, who looked just like China Doll, would go to the home where Ali was born.
Mai Lin, Ali, & three of the babies.
Mai Lin was not too sure she liked this little interloper for the first day. He was young, bouncy and knew no boundaries. She was in the miserable stage of pregnancy, belly almost dragging on the floor, moving with great effort, and just wanted to be left alone.
But on his second morning in our home, Ali was making a blind charge after me and, being a puppy with little experience and less good sense, took a serious tumble down a flight of stairs. He lay at the bottom of the stairs, yelping with his full volume, probably with pain and certainly with near blind fear. I was terrified that he might be “broken,” and took off down the stairs to rescue him, and to my surprise, the slow moving tank that was grumpy, anti-interloper Mai Lin, beat me down the stairs to that crying baby! She was beside herself with concern and gently nudging him, licking at him and looking at me like, “Fix him!!!!”.
Long story made short, Ali was not seriously hurt, just frightened, but the incident, as scary as it was for all of us, cemented the relationship with Ali and Mai Lin. At that moment, they were bonded for life. They were pretty much inseparable from that day on.
Ali playing tug-of-war with the babies.
A few nights later, the litter was born. Mai Lin (ML) was in labor for quite a long time, and we were becoming concerned, thinking perhaps we should call the vet. Ali and our two Chihuahuas, Niña and Amigo, were in their kennels in the bedroom, giving us time to focus on ML. But Ali was crying. He wasn’t used to being away from us. ML kept looking toward the bedroom, and I finally made the decision to bring him out so he would be quiet and let her relax. I decided to bring all three, him and the Chis. Once ML touch noses with each of them, she settled down and began delivering her babies within a very short time. She needed all her family there with her!
Ali became the “big brother” to the babies. He played with them and when ML began to leave the kennel for short times, she no only allowed him to “babysit,” but she seemed to feel he had to be there when she took a break. He was amazing with those babies. He even gave them baths! We were just amazed at what an exception this is to the norm with dogs, that Ali as a puppy just six weeks older than the little ones, would step into this kind of roll and that Mai Lin as a protective mommy, would let him!
Ali and the baby China.
And so it continued as this little family of furries grew up. The babies went to new homes .... Mai Tai to my daughter, Hoppy (Hop Sing) to a neighbor and friend, Pandi to Ali’s previous home, and China stayed with us.
BTW, they all had distinctive, interesting, official names:
Mai Lin - Empress Mai Lin Shu (My Lyn Shu[ler])
Ali - Emperor Ali Zan D’Ewok (Alexand-ewok)
China - Princess Ama Wei China Doll (I’m a wee China doll)
Mai Tai - Princess Mai Tai Bei Ah Wei Lin (Might I be a wee Lin)
You have to say those last three names out loud to “get it.” My previous name was Alexander, so Ali’s name sound sort of like that with “ewok” (because of his face) on the end. And China’s paternal grandfather was Ali BaBa, a really special, nice dog that we were fond of, so that was the beginning of coming up with the name. Mai Tai was “might I be a wee Lin” because she was a spitting image of her momma, Mai Lin. China was “I’m a wee China Doll.” Yes, we were nearly insane. So bite me!
Ali collected all his tennis balls together!
Ali was an extremely active little dog. He absolutely never quit moving! He would chase a toy and retrieve it, over and over and over, until you forced him to stop. Even when he was tired and hot and could hardly keep moving, he would continue. If you simply refused to throw it again, he would b, over the first couple years of his life, to a broken leg, a cracked leg, and a severe sprain, one each on three legs! He was always racing down stairs or jumping from the back of the couch or off the deck, and usually without much forethought.
Getting older an enjoying a snooze.
My husband taught Ali to “rest” after the first leg injury. We were supposed to keep him quiet for a couple weeks, not an easy task with an active puppy, just a few months old. Glenn would lie on the floor on his side, pull Ali up next to his stomach, and pet him, telling him to “rest, rest.” Within a couple days, he has learned what “rest” meant. It helped for the rest of his life.
This helped him with sharing his toys, too. He eventually learned when he was told to rest while a toy was thrown it was another dog’s turn to fetch. It was difficult for him to do this at first, but he eventually understood that the next throw was always for him.
Handsome after grooming with a neckerchief.
Ali talked to us. He was so expressive with his expressions, his mannerisms, but also with his voice. You could just look at him and tell what he was wanting much of the time. He would bark to get your attention, then lea you to what he wanted, at times. Bark, walk toward the dog food container, look deeply into the human face .... there! He/she got it!!
Snoozin' under the blanket.
Waking from a nap in the bay window in KC.
Once at the end of a long trip, he began complaining as we were just an hour or so from home. He was making little groaning, yipping noises, almost whining. I was driving, so Glenn looked at him and said, “Tell mama to step on it. Tell mama.” Damned if Ali didn’t crawl onto the console, twist his head toward me and made that “maaa maaa” sound that some dogs make!! For months after that, every time he wanted something, Glenn would say “Tell mama,” and Ali would come to me and say “Maaa maaa”! Funny boy!
Lesson: How to make sure mom doesn't leave me behind while visiting at Scott's house.
"Uh-oh! Mom caught me snuggling in her fancy-schmancy pillows on the bed!"
"This new kid, Sam, seems to be OK."
Hiding from a thunderstorm in the bathroom.
Aging isn't fun.
Loving the grass in his golden days.
Ali was a very special little dog. Loving, smart, playful. Just a treat to have in the family.
Ali, Mai Lin and China Doll will always be in my heart, no matter how long my heart beats on. I miss you, babies.