In Memory Of
Beloved Friend of Joyce and Robert Hoffman
Our beloved Shih-Tzu, Panda, left us on December 5, 2001. She was 16 years old and had been part of our lives since 1986. We thought we might put a few words and pictures here as a remembrance of a good friend.

Her full name was Panda Lee Moon. When she was young, her fur was black and her step was lively. She'd chase a sock as long as we wanted to throw it. As she grew older, her fur turned grey, she didn't chase socks, but she always tried to please. In her last days, she was deaf and blind, but responded to our touch to the end.
And now it's getting hard to type, so I'll put in a picture. Here's a real old one that Joyce has carried in her wallet for about 14 years. I guess Panda must have been about 2 or 3 here, since we started cutting her hair short about that time. Anyone who owns a Shih-Tzu can tell you that either you brush them every day or you get a shorter cut. Most people, unless they're showing the dog, opt for the shorter cut.

The little bow in her hair was a trademark for a long time. Then we shortened her hair and she lost the bows.

Below is one of my favorites. Panda liked to lie in the sun, so we'd sometimes put her in the rocker on the balcony. Here she is, enjoying the rays.
A very young Panda -- click to see it larger
Enjoying sunny Florida -- click to see it larger
You may have noticed that Panda's wearing pajamas in that last picture. When she lived in Pompano Beach, Florida in 1992, her allergies got really bad. After unsuccessfully trying a specially-mixed vaccine for several months, our vet suggested the baby pajamas. They kept Panda from scratching herself raw. She wore them continuously from then until her last day. She had about 20 sets, so was usually well-dressed.

In October of this year, Joyce saw a sign in the vet's office advertising pet portraits. I thought it was a little silly, but she went ahead with it anyway -- now, we're so glad she did. In October, we had no idea how close Panda was to her end. In her last month, it seemed we could actually see a difference in her energy and mood from day to day.

Below, you'll see the "portraits" we had made.
Joyce's favorite
Looking Christmas-y -- click to see it larger
Robert's favorite
If you're thinking that Panda was a little pampered, you're probably right. She traveled when we traveled, she was home when we were, and she probably never knew that some dogs stay in a kennel when their family goes on vacation. She RV'ed through 40 or so states, lived in Alabama, California, New Mexico, Florida, and several points in between for short periods, and never complained about all that travel. She almost never barked, but would sneeze, stare, or tap with her paw to get our attention. She'd sleep in a lap for hours, often while the owner of the lap was playing cards, working on a computer, or flipping the TV control. She was almost always patient with humans who wanted to change her pajamas, clip her, give her shots, brush her teeth, clean her ears, or whatever other activity we seemed to think was necessary. About the only thing one didn't do was mess around with the fur under her chin -- we were never sure why, but she'd give you a pretty good nip if you didn't know better than to leave her "beard" alone. Other than that, she was pretty much tolerant of whatever we thought we needed to involve her in -- she was indeed ... the sweetest little one.

Well, we haven't said much. I had hoped this would end up as a sort of history of Panda, but it's not easy to write. Maybe we'll add more later. For us, the pictures are the most important thing anyway.

Good-bye .. dear Panda

Christmas 2005 Addition: Good-bye to Panda's life-long friend, Brandon

April 2007 Addition: Want some cheer after all this gloom? Check Taking Care of Panda