November, in 2015, when I decided to start my 4 Beloved Paws organisation, I reached out to few shelters. Sjuzi's shelter was the first one to respond that they will gladly collaborate. By then, seeing how Josie loves to play with other dogs, I was considering getting her a sibling. It was going to be one from a shelter this time, for sure. Since that thought started forming in my head, I have seen several dogs, I was interested in, but for one or another reason it did not work out.
In January 2016 I saw a post of a tiny puppy, in the same shelter we agreed to collaborate with. She was just a month old and looked exactly like Josie! Her mom, who looked like a border coli, was left at the shelter - pregnant - because her owner was "emigrating". Her mom was JUST 11 months old! A baby herself...Sjuzi's mom got shelter's favourite status, she was a dog that can smile and was doing that a lot. Milka ( her name) had only one puppy, Sjuzi, born already in the shelter.
As it was with Josie, it was love at first sight. I contacted the shelter to see my options in reserving her, because usually puppies find homes immediately and are not kept in the shelter long, due to all the risk of diseases. But for me, they made an exception. That's when the 2,5 months long waiting started.
I received updates and was preparing for my trip to Lithuania. From first pictures it seemed, like she is going to be a copy of Josie. But already after the second month, it was clear, she will be a skinny, tall version instead. She also looked nothing like her mom.
First photo is of Josie as a puppy, the rest of Sjuzi as a puppy. Resemblance is really there.
The pick up...
I was very lucky, that her mandatory quarantine time after vaccination, ended just in time for my birthday. So . on February 26th (my birthday), 2016, I travelled from Odense (Denmark), to Copenhagen airport, carrying only hand baggage, filled with treats for shelter dogs. Few hours later, I landed in Lithuania, where I was picked up by my best friend, with a handfull of my favourite, yellow roses. We travelled directly to my home town, to the shelter. That's where I met my skinny child for the first time. That was also where I met everyone from the shelter for the first time. A reporter was waiting for me, from a national Lithuanian TV, to make a segment about me and Sjuzi and my organisation. This was beggining of it all! It is still my favourite day and favourite birthday in my whole life, I am pretty sure it won't be topped. I am not one to celebrate my birthday, but since then I always celebrate it as the day I got my Sjuzi. It was amazing and overwhelming.
Same day, through Skype, I got another dog adopted, she left soon after. Sjuzi's mom was adopted in the same month, just few weeks before. I had ideas adopting her as well, but she got lucky before I arrived.
I picked up a skin and bones Bambi, that I was afraid to break! I have never had someone so tiny. To prevent her getting sick, before I pick her up, she was utterly guarded, therefore did not get to build up muscles enough. But she was healthy, happy and with teeth sharp as blades. She - just like her mom - knew how to smile.
I stayed in Lithuania only for a day. I landed Friday and we flew back Sunday. In the meantime, everywhere we went, she was atracking so much attention and making people wonder how beauties like that could be in the shelter. We have spread the "adopt, don't shop" message wide, in those few days and continue to do so now 6 years and going :)
This is how we left the shelter. The last photos are of Sjuzi's mom.
Pinky and The Brain...
Sjuzi was perfection the whole long trip. Both, in the plain and in the train and in the bus, she just slept on me or in her travel bag, without any complaints. Picking up Sjuzi, was the first time I have ever left Josie alone over night. She stayed with my neighbour and my best friend. She was doing fine and it was just two nights, but Josie is emotional and stubborn (just like me), so when I came back, she was angry on me, instead of being excited to see me :)
She got very excited upon seeing Sjuzi, overly excited and was trying to play with her, but the body mass was no match. In fact, Sjuzi was so fragile, that for a while I had to carry her in my bag, until she build up enough muscles.
Josie was excited the first few hours, but then she realised that this intruder is not going anywhere and lost her interest She became visibly unhappy with Sjuzi. Sjuzi though, from day one was fearless happy go lucky and very persistent.
For the next few weeks, Sjuzi was a annoying little sister, following Josie everywhere, bitting her ears, stealing her toys, trying to sleep with her. Josie was moving away from her at all times and showing zero interest. After few weeks, Josie started not moving away when Sjuzi lays down next to her. After a week more, Josie brought her toy to Sjuzi and was observing how she is playing.
When Sjuzi started building up some muscles, Josie started trying to play with her outside. Only outside. She was running and Sjuzi catching, but never catching up. That was until Sjuzi's legs grew telescopic and she not only caught up, she ran faster than JOsie! You could clearly see Josie's shock in the face, that her little sister beat her. After that, she accepted her fully at home as well.
So, NO, this was not a love from sight from Josie's side, like it was from mine. It was a long and extremely fascinating process, of how Sjuzi stole Josie's heart. They have been inseparable ever since. They became Pinky and The Brain, except in this case, Sjuzi is the brain. They have many cute habits but one of the strangest is - if they get a bone that is for a long chewing, half way through, Sjuzi brings her bone to Josie and exchanges it. Even though it's the same thing, they have been doing this since early on.
The Queen of EVERYTHING
One of my favourite Christmas movies is "Curly Sue", so I don't know why, but I really wanted my dogs name to be Sue/Sjuzi. That's how she got her name, despite not having any curls. But she is smart ass as the little girl in the movie.
She, as we were told by a vet, is a Basenji mix and it actually fits well. Even her voice is faded out, she can't bark or howl, like other dogs. She fits also the stubborn yet very elegant personality.
Since day one, Sjuzi was the most obedient, on me focused, not carrying about anything else dog. Endless kisses giver and never ending tail wagger. She was and is fearless, her only kryptonite is a vacuum cleaner for some reason. Even though she was properly socialised in the shelter and has been with me everywhere, including my school exams and work - she has no interest in interacting with strangers. She has me and few other family members, everyone else is someone she feels the need to show, she is not fond of. I love that about her.
Because of my over protection, she developed anxiety being alone, luckily she had Josie and now the rest of the pack, so she is never home alone.
She quickly developed also clear superiority over other dogs. No one has ever tried to harm her, while she is putting dogs that are too loud or aggressive, into their place. She does this at home most of all. She tends to control LU most of all, as she is big, dangerous goofball and Sjuzi stops her, before she steps on someone toes. She bring Josie back, if Josie chase a rabbit Sjuzi never leaves anyone behind and will always hold eye on everyone who is walking with her, gathering them into group. If they both escape after wild rabbit, Sjuzi is the first to return and half way stops, to wait for Josie. Then she gives her a kiss and motivates to hurry home. Even Lucy, who is an grumpy old lady, respects Sjuzi's superiority.
Sjuzi LOVES balls and sticks. That's the only way to her heart. Treats or food don't impress her. She is exceptional at retrieving balls, even those who have been missing for days, somewhere outside in a big field. She can find anything. She can climb trees! She is easy to train. She is a friend of cats and other animals. She is good at helping shy dogs to start playing with her. Walking with ot without leash is perfect. And while she is not a big barker, she loves to bark once and see how all the other dogs jump to it and react in response, while she is laying in her spot proudly.
She is a bit OCD, she likes things her way, same way. Likes to have her bed, but it must be next to you. She sleeps in her bed, on my bed and comes under my blanket, at dawn. At night, she wakes up multiple times, to shake herself and go back to sleep. I have to wake up and cover her with a blanket each time. If I don't, she comes to lick my nose, to wake me up, and then quickly goes back into her bed.
If her toy or stick gets sandy, while playing on the beach - she WASHES it in the sea water. She loves water, but she was scared of swimming for a very long time. She learned eventually, but she still prefers to be knee high in the water. She loves fishing stones out of bottom of the sea and can do it all day, even if she is freezing and tired, she can't stop. Sticks and stones do not break her bones, it makes her very happy :)
Her ears have a life of their own and change according to her mood. While this Dobby like creatures looks super innocent and sweet, it all changes quickly into black eyed, fierce demon, if you threaten her treasure.
She won't come if you don't as politely and reacts only to loving tone. In the sick years together, she has never been disciplined, even if she does something, that other dogs would certainly not be allowed. She has trained us well.
While Sjuzi's look was not something I thought I would ever have, but she was my dog from the very first moment, I knew it instantly. Who knew, that for someone like me who grew up with big, strong dogs, a skinny, long legs, long nose creature, will be my ride or die true love. She is my most trusted sidekick, that I can with zero concerns have with me at events, at work, in the city and everywhere else. She is my choice if I want to participate in dog related event or simply pick up something from the store.
We were recently contacted by Sjuzi's moms family. Turns out all the fabulous traits of Sjuzi are genetical! It is so strange. But there are 2 most perfect dogs out there, Sjuzi and her mom, with no influence of training or raising, THEY WERE BORN THIS WAY :)