Assertive, precocious, extremely intelligent (some even have out-of-this-world deductive reasoning skills), stubborn, quirky, independent, willful - these are just some of the terms we can use to describe the Tibetan Spaniel. One might wonder, then, why those of us who love them, love them with such utter devotion - indeed, many of us have become "royal subjects," catering to their every whim. If you're looking for a canine baby who will always come when called, ace obedience school without effort on your part, will always want to cuddle when you want to cuddle and can happily wander by your side off-leash, then the Tibetan Spaniel is not the dog for you. If you enjoy a sense of humor, appreciate high intelligence, adore quirkiness and want to be inundated with love (on their own terms, of course), then continue your research - the "Tibbie," as they are affectionately called by their devotees, may be your heart dog.
I know what you're thinking - If they're so intelligent, why is obedience such an effort? Well, it's precisely because of that intelligence. It's not that Tibbies can't learn - many of them will pick up what you want them to do in one sitting, within two or three repetitions - it's that unless they see the point, they'll lose interest and not bother. Does that mean that Tibbies never do well at organized activities such as obedience or agility? No, there are individual dogs who choose to engage in these and who excel at them. With a lot of perseverance, consistency and patience from their person.
To be honest, many of us don't even get that far. My personal example? Before our first Tibbie, Keani, came home, someone saw his photo and said, "Oh, that Baby is going to be spoiled rotten." Rather loftily, I replied that we didn't spoil our dogs. I did, after all, have a plan. Keani would be carefully trained in all of the obedience commands, he would sleep in his own bed in the bedroom, he would walk properly beside me on leash... The present me looks back at that past me and shakes her head in wonderment at the sheer naivete. Keani came home and within a few days, he was up on the bed. At first when my husband mentioned it, it was "Oh, let him stay up here for a bit, it's okay." In no time, our bed was his bed and the dog bed was forgotten. Keani picked up obedience commands within three tries, but how often do we use them? Um...never. In short, he and his little brother Khydn are princes of the realm.
Tibbies are the "cats" of the dog world. While they are less well known than some others, they are an ancient breed, having been around for thousands of years. They love high places as they were originally bred to be lookouts on monastery walls. They are intuitive and extremely loving, but they participate in cuddles, snuggles and kisses on their own terms. Many of them have a strong sense of humor and are extremely quirky - every individual has their own personality and particularities. Many are bright and inquisitive little clowns who fill their people's lives with smiles and laughter (their people should also have a sense of humor as many Tibbies are masterminds and very clever at playing games such as slipper, sock and underwear-stealing).
Tibbies tend to be the be-all-and-end-all for those of us who know and love them. We happily allow ourselves to be wrapped around their little paws. It is impossible to describe what they are to us in return. Suffice it to say that they become a part of us, heart and soul.
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