My Extremely Smart Shih Tzu, Benji
by Dennis Guyer
Benji as a Puppy
It all started . . . . . I traveled 80 some miles one day to look for some Amish type outdoor furniture because I always wanted some. I pulled into this one place to see what they had.
Found some but not quite what I wanted but it would suit, and so as I was walking towards the counter to check on prices and so forth, and two small puppies were running around.
They were ten weeks old Shih Tzu the store owner said. They were nothing but a little ball of fluff is what they looked like to me.
I am 70 years old now and happen to be disabled (since the age of 45) as well.
I was 62 when getting this pup! I can walk fair and have some health issues, but do have some physical limitations as well.
However, the more those darn pups kept running around me, for some odd reason they got my attention and it wasn't long till I was asking about those pups (trying to keep this short - if I can here).
Well, I found myself going home, not with any Amish outdoor furniture, but with one of those darn 10-week old ball of fluff pups!
The store owner said his family had raised Shih Tzu for years and he had two left from the litter. I couldn't decide on which one and the owner suggested if it was him doing the choosing, he pointed to the one that he would take.
I then started to pay attention to their temper and actions. I chose the more laid-back one and then remembered what I was taught growing up about picking a dog that may have some smarts to it.
My grandfather always told me to look at the roof of a dogs mouth. If it was a dark color, especially if black, you will find a dog that has some smarts to it.
This little guy's roof of mouth was coal black! He was the one I choose!
On the way home I thought I had no things needed to have a dog. Nothing!
I began buying this and buying that, and it seemed like that buying dog thing just kept going.
Now, with my physical limitations and my age, as time went, I must say I lost my composer a few times trying to housebreak and to teach things to this ball of fluff.
I began to go online reading up on the breed. Of course I never, and would never, never entered my mind to mistreat in any way, but I soon witnessed what I read about this breed having a stubborn streak.
Benji was pushing my patience to a stress level at times! Being my age, you hear that people get set in their ways and so may as well say I was in that era.
I almost said enough was enough a time or two and just about got rid of this ball of fluff. Pretty close!
For some reason, I ended up hanging in there, and he just turned eight years old. I wouldn't take a million $$$$ for him today!
When I got out of the Army after three years with 2 Nam tours, I didn't know what I wanted or wanted to do, and this went on for 3 or so.
I soon made friends with a kennel owner and dog trainer. Here I am 20 years old and just knocking around, and this guy wants to hire me to help run his business, and before long I got into some dog training.
I worked with German Shepard's, Dobies and Rotties. That training pertained to obedience, police and even some government work dog training.
I worked for a guy/kennel that had these credentials calling for these types of dogs and training. It got to be pretty exciting!
I had quite a few different hunting dogs in my younger years growing up on my mother's and father's farm being made to learn and farm at the young age of 7.
I was the only male growing up! I had bird dogs, rabbit dogs, and coon hunting dogs! So, my literacy to having dogs plus the dog training knowledge was above average.
However, it had been 40 years though since having a dog. But the training knowledge was still in me. This little guy's stubborn streak though kept testing all my experience! I kept thinking; at my age, I don't need this!
Through the years with Benji the things that I taught him, it fit him like a glove it seemed. I soon registered him as a Service Dog for me to make up for some of the smaller limitations I have physically.
I can't go through all the training I've given to this little guy, but here are just a few things that show just how smart these little dogs can be — just a few small little things.
Every toy I got him, and my friends who would stop by always seemed to bring Benji some toy as well, Benji soon had a box full.
After a few toys, I got the thought that I would put a name to every toy he would get. Not thinking this would matter one way or another. But today Benji has probably 70 different toys at least! And, 70 plus different names!
I do not understand how he does it! Or can do it! Benji can remember the names of every one of his toys, even back to a couple he had as a puppy!
And he is eight years old now! I can't believe he can do that. It regularly blows my mind!
Also, every command, basically everything I told him to do, even when just speaking to him, (unconsciously at the time) I would always nod my head in the form of answering a question with a yes type nod.
Doing this but not even thinking this nod would be of any form of importance in any way. It was just an unconscious action on my part.
As time went by, I continued to speak to Benji, saying a command and then I would say something like, OK, and I could not believe it what I had just seen.
I know I froze for 5 seconds anyway! Benji nodded his head in the yes manner!
Did I see what I thought I did?
So, I asked Benji a question. I don't know now what it was. Benji nodded his head yes! I (did not) teach him this! He had to pick it up seeing me do it. He started this maybe when he was like two years old. I still today, can't believe he does this.
He hardly will ever bark. Most dogs will bark (speak) when asked if they want a treat. Benji will nod his head yes!
You're going to think of me as crazy here, but you can have a conversation with Benji because no matter what is said to him, it has to be in a question format though, he will always nod his head. He has learned when a question is being asked to him.
Now, to me, this is kind of uncanny!
Kind of scary in a way!
This little dog does certain things that make me believe that he knows way too many things that I am talking about.
And, thinking of the things that I have said to Benji, his vocabulary has to be huge!
There are just so many different little actions and words that this little guy can work out in that mind of his. I can go on about ways and things that Benji can understand, and it just blows my mind.
Benji is quite the companion dog!
Everybody that meets Benji cannot believe how he will keep an eye on me. Benji, no matter what he is doing or no matter whether another person is playing with him they cannot believe how he always keeps his eyes on me.
Whenever I would leave him at home, Benji got to where he would start biting his feet and licking his legs. It was a separation action!
I had to start putting a plastic collar on him if I ever left him at home. I don't leave him at home often, but there are times that I must and used that collar if I did.
As Benji was growing up, I taught him not to be afraid of anything. And he isn't! I showed him not to be afraid of fireworks. Not to be scared of thunder and lightning. Not to be afraid of a vacuum sweeper.
And basically, not to be afraid of any loud noise. When 4th of July comes around, and the fireworks start, Benji will look up in the sky to find and see where the fireworks are.
He loves the sound of a motorcycle. Why I genuinely do not know!
Kind of makes me wish that I physically could handle a motorcycle because I am sure he would ride on one. I know he would because I have an electric scooter that I must sometimes ride around the neighborhood being my walking isn't all that good.
He has to make sure he rides on the scuff plate at my feet. I'm quite sure I could handle one of those 3-wheel motorcycles though. I would love to have one! No way I could ever afford one though. I know Benji, and I would take trips all summer long!
Sure am sorry for rattling on. You said though; "the more that is said, the better." You did say that, right? Benji is a fantastic dog.
Everybody that comes into contact with Benji loves him. I also taught him that everybody is a friend and he loves everyone. There must be something to that name Benji too. Just like the Benji in the movies! I'm trying not to pat my back, but I do believe I have an amazing dog.
However, seeing is believing! Everyone meeting Benji has been the proof to that too.
I could go on and on about different things about Benji, but I am quite sure I have used up more than enough space here. Benji reminds me so much of those Benji movies.
Thank you for letting me introduce Benji to you,