Senior Shih Tzu goes from down on her luck to a place in the sun

Roxy the senior Shih Tzu in a kennel
Roxy arrived at Best Friends with matted hair, an ear infection, bladder stones and major dental issues, but after help from the medical team she’s finally feeling good again.
By Nicole Hamilton

Roxy, an 11-years-young Shih Tzu, is having a ball these days as evidenced by the tail wags and circles she turns when it’s time to eat. She enjoys getting cozy on the couch with her adopter, Nikki Wride. Otherwise, you can find her on the patio or in the grass,  lying in the sun and catching some rays.

Nikki says Roxy has a sharp mind and learned how to use the doggie door in no time flat. She also loves sleeping on the edge of Nikki’s bed and will occasionally snuggle with her and Millie, the other resident canine and Roxy’s new BFF. She also loves a good car ride and patiently sits in her car seat watching the world go by.

“She’s super sweet, very calm and well-behaved,” says Nikki, noting that she was even calm as can be during her first trip to the groomer. That’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider Roxy’s state when she arrived at Best Friends in Salt Lake City. Let’s just say a haircut and a nail trim is nothing compared to what Roxy had to go through to become the happy, healthy dog she is today.

Roxy may be tiny, but she’s also proof that you can have a heart of gold and still be a fighter.

Courtesy of Nikki Wride

Not your average bad hair day

It’s unclear what happened in Roxy’s life before she ended up at the animal shelter in Tooele, Utah, but when she arrived she looked more than a little disheveled with long matted hair. Her teeth were also in bad shape and considering how bad she clearly felt, there was good reason to suspect she had other health issues, too.

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After landing at the shelter, Roxy was brought to Best Friends, where veterinarian Dr. Megan McCarthy examined her and discovered she had an ear infection, likely compounded by the fact that she had severe hair matting in her ear canals. Dr. Megan also felt a mass in Roxy’s bladder during her exam. “Her senior bloodwork also revealed a very high white blood cell count, which can indicate severe infection or inflammation,” she says.

The medical team treated Roxy’s ear infection with medicine, cleaned her ears and groomed the hair that was blocking her ear canal. They also scheduled her right away for urgent X-rays at a local veterinary clinic. The next morning it was confirmed that Roxy had three large stones in her bladder.

“These can form secondary to a urinary tract infection, diet or genetic predisposition, and judging by the size of Roxy's bladder stones, they had been present for quite a while,” says Dr. Megan, who made sure to schedule Roxy’s surgery for the very next day.

You’d think that considering her laundry list of health challenges, the little dog would have a bad case of the Mondays, but Roxy’s more of a Friday girl. Even when she was feeling her worst, she was still sweet to everyone she met. Her tail still wagged, albeit weakly. But could you blame her if it didn’t wag at all back then?

Once Roxy’s surgery was in the rear view and she had a little time to rest, she could finally get on to the business of having fun and making friends with everyone she met at the lifesaving center. She healed quickly and was able to go to a foster home in a matter of days. But she wasn’t there long. Turns out, there was someone nearby hoping to adopt a dog just like her.

Courtesy of Nikki Wride

Pieces fall into place for dog and adopter

For the past year and a half Nikki was planning to adopt a senior Shih Tzu. It was a slow process, though, and the timing never seemed to be quite right. Usually, the dog was adopted before Nikki had a chance for a meet-and-greet.

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Then one night, Nikki was looking online for  small dogs to adopt and when she saw Roxy’s little face, her heart skipped a beat. What really drew her in, though, was Roxy’s story.

After contacting Best Friends about Roxy, it seemed like, once again, timing was not on Nikki’s side. Someone was already in the process of adopting Roxy. When the adoption didn’t happen and the team at Best Friends called Nikki asking her if she was still interested, she couldn’t believe her luck. “I was shocked to learn Roxy was available again,” says Nikki. “The pieces just fell into place.”

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Nikki’s first meeting with Roxy was over Facetime, and while Nikki was more than a little excited to see the dog she hoped to adopt, Roxy spent the time napping on the floor; however, when they finally met in person, Roxy was wide awake. “I picked her up and she was so cuddly, and I wanted her to feel the love I instantly had for her,” says Nikki. “She was the sweetest thing.”

Nikki brought her dog, Millie, to the meet-and-greet and the two got along just fine. Between that easy introduction and Roxy’s sweetness, Nikki knew the only thing left to do was adopt her.

Courtesy of Nikki Wride

Finally, a place in the sun

Roxy quickly settled into life with Nikki and Millie, and she had about a month to rest up before going back to Best Friends for her much-needed dental work. She ended up having 23 teeth extracted due to the severity of her dental disease. “She felt so much better not having those bad teeth remaining,” says Dr. Megan.

Today, Roxy is down to eight remaining teeth. Nikki is feeding her wet food until her gums heal, and Roxy needs to stay on a special diet now that she’s had stones in her bladder. But Nikki doesn’t mind one bit, especially when she sees Roxy happily lying in the sun.

It may have taken Nikki more than a year to find a senior Shih Tzu to adopt, but she says the wait was more than worth it. In this case, the timing was perfect.

Courtesy of Nikki Wride

Have room for a little more love?

If you’re ready for a little more fun, love and happiness, head to your local shelter and adopt a cat or dog.

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