Pekingese dogs or “Pekes” are commonly referred to as “lion dogs” due to their resemblance to Chinese guardian lions. They originated in China thousands of years ago, and were favored by the Chinese Imperial Court. They are one of the most exotic and distinctive of the toy breeds. The tiniest Pekes were once called “sleeve dogs” because they were tucked away in the sleeves of the Imperial household. Modern day Pekingese retain that regal quality, expecting their families to treat them as nobility. They are not a demanding breed and usually not barkers. If your Pekingese dogs barks, you had better find out WHY.
Just as fascinating as the wonderful dogs she rescues, Coachella Valley resident Adell Lantz operates Forget-Me-Not Peke Rescue, a specialty dog breed rescue organization tucked away on a Cathedral City side street. Originally from Tennessee, Adell is a fiesty character with a heart of gold, A ONE PERSON OPERATION who is not afraid to speak her mind to anyone who doesn’t provide good care to their dog. She questions adopters, “Have you ever owned a Pekingese? Once you have, no other breed dog can walk in their footsteps”. Adell started doing peke rescue in 1987 after getting her first show dog and doing a little breeding, which she hasn’t done in the past 5 years. Why did she stop breeding and showing dogs? Adell is quick to answer, “No time! I started taking in breeders’ released pekes and then got a computer which I use to find shelter pekes in need. One year alone I rescued and found homes for 138 dogs. There is the right home out there for every dog, some just take a little longer.”
I first met Adell two years ago when I brought a small blind pekingese dog to her. Little Tess who still needs a “furever” home stood no chance of adoption at the county shelter. Adell who is also a veterinary technician, administered some eye medication and cleaned the eyes, explaining the dog might recover some vision. Adell beckoned me into her facility and showed me around the set of small rooms and kennel area while many little pekes scurried happily around our feet. Adell takes some dogs turned in by their owners and rescues many others from Southern California Animal Control facilities. Adell explains, “This breed unlike others does not show well in the shelters. They do not come up to the gate and say “ADOPT ME”—they do not understand why they lost their home, and wonder ‘Why am I here where I can smell DEATH’–AS ALL OF THEM DO”.
Adell has lots of advice for dog owners. “When you send out a male dog to an adoptive home, he goes with a “male wrap” or belly band to guard against the inevitable leg lifting.” Most male dogs do fine with potty training and don’t require this. But the technique can prevent the return of adopted pets who pee on a new owner’s carpet. Planning a visit to a “fussy” relative with a fancy home? This trick allows your dog to be a welcome guest. Adelle will also help dog owners economize, recommending leashes purcased at the 99 Cent stores.
Two weeks ago Adell received word that an unlicensed breeder in Escondido was cited by animal control for having too many dogs. Fifteen of her beautiful Pekes ended up in the San Diego County shelter. Adell proudly describes these gorgeous dogs, some of them have a beautiful tricolor coat. Fearing for the dogs’ safety, and knowing that a public shelter would not screen or provide proper care instruction to adopters, Adell headed out on the 7 hour round trip to save them. Originally she planned to take six dogs, but could not bear to leave the rest behind kennel bars. All fifteen little dogs were loaded up in Adele’s van. Like the “Last Chance Highway”, the Pekes calmly headed down the freeway as the green San Diego landscape turned into our dry desert terrain. The small dogs were peaceful in their crates, sensing they were going to freedom and better lives in the Coachella Valley.
Adell explains that many pure breed dogs end up in shelters these day. “You ask me why there are so many pure breed dogs in shelters? People are losing their homes and having to rent where a lot of property owners will not allow pets so what choice do they have? PLEASE CALL A RESCUE GROUP before taking any animal to the shelter where it belongs to the government and they can end up euthanizing them.” Taking in these extra dogs created more work, and Adell said, “Sometimes I let my bulldog mouth bite off more than my puppy dog ass can handle!”
Should you consider adopting a Pekingese for your next pet? Pekingese are brave little dogs, sensitive, independent, and affectionate with their owners. They are also strong willed and require a confident “take charge” owner. Calm and quiet indoors, your Peke will lie peacefully on his cushion watching over his kingdom with characteristic inscrutable gaze. He will then suddenly surprise you with his comic playfulness. These small dogs are a good match for pet lovers who live in apartments or condominiums and for the most part do not require daily walks. They have a dense coat that requires daily attention to prevent matting, and owners must have the time and budget to allow for grooming usually 3 to 4 times a year
For more information about Forget-Me-Not Peke Rescue call (760)324-9555. To see their available dogs check out their website at Petfinder.com in the zip code 92262. A full service center, Forget-Me-Not Peke Rescue also provides grooming and boarding where all fees help the rescue effort supplying food, vet care, and temporary home for the dogs. If you cannot adopt, please consider making a donation to this noble cause.