Michigan has rescue operations that focus entirely on shih tzus and others that concentrate on strictly small dogs, while general dog sanctuaries or shelters accept any breed if not most breeds. In Michigan and elsewhere in the United States there are more shih tzus in need of good homes than there are residents of good homes looking to adopt. Cute little dogs such as these are vulnerable to people who make impulse buys. Once the realities of toilet training, veterinary bills and daily care set in, such dogs are often abandoned. It's an unfortunate circumstance that means finding plenty of shih tzu to choose among shouldn’t be a problem.
Create a summary of your lifestyle, and determine what personality you are looking for in a dog. Doing so will help you and the rescue decide upon a good match. For example, if you have three young children, two cats and another dog, you'll want to adopt a shih tzu that is confident and very well socialized with other dogs, other pets and people, particularly children. On the other hand, if you lead a quiet life alone or as part of a couple, you might be in a position to take on a shih tzu that is nervous and needs a lot of patient care. Although the American Kennel Club describes the personality of this breed as “trusting to all,” individuals vary, and rescued animals might be more likely to have had traumatic experiences.
Phone the rescues in your area, discuss their dogs and your situation, and make arrangements to visit potentially good matches. Some Michigan shih tzu rescues are listed in the resources section here. You can find more with a simple online search or by asking a vet or another rescue for suggestions. It is also worth checking sanctuaries for small breeds and for dogs in general.
Visit the potential matches, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can take time, but bear in mind your lifestyle and peruse the available dogs rather than rush home with the first lonely looking dog you see. The better-suited the shih tzu is to you, the happier you’ll both be. Some rescues may conduct home checks before you're allowed to pick up a dog. This is a sign of a responsible organization.
Collect together the equipment you need in advance of taking ownership of the dog. Aside from the obvious items you'll need, such as a bed, a brush, bowls, a leash and food, obtain a pet carrier. You might need this when you take ownership of the dog or if she becomes ill. Later, buy a dog coat of a suitable size. Michigan winters can be cold, and small breeds need extra insulation.
Make an appointment with your vet, or one recommended by the rescue, as soon as possible to register with the practice and for a general checkup. Pet MD notes that shih tzus are prone to, among other problems, cataracts and canine hip dysplasia. If your new shih tzu is not spayed or neutered, arrange for fixing. Intact dogs may develop behavioral and health problems. Also, careful as you might be, accidents happen -- dogs are determined when the hormones kick in. The last thing Michigan needs is another set of crossbred puppies needing homes.
Contact a local dog groomer to arrange regular clipping appointments. The long hair of an unclipped shih tzu might be pretty, but it is uncomfortable for the dog in hot weather, gets matted very easily and is tricky to groom. You also need to brush your shih tzu thoroughly once a day or once every couple of days.