Andrew Zhu

Princess Sisi



Someone joked to me recently that, over quarantine, at least one of three things happened to you:

1. You got engaged or married

2. You got a puppy

3. You got into a new video game or hobby

They aren’t off the mark with regards to my family and I. While none of us got engaged or married, and none of us really dove down into the deep end with regards to a new hobby, we did end up with a puppy – Sisi! Here’s a recap of her first year with us, with plenty of adorable pictures and videos as well. Warning: cuteness overload!

Princess Sisi

My brother and I have always wanted a dog. Growing up on farms in rural China, my parents both had dogs in the family, albeit none of them were “family dogs” in the standard Western sense, nor were they herding or working dogs. And certainly not raised for food, mind you! They simply were doggy dogs, free to roam here, there, and anywhere they so pleased. 

Kids begging their parents for a new pet in the house – a scene to which so many of us can relate! After more than twenty years, I finally managed to convince my parents that a dog would help inject some energy and fun into the household now that my brother and I had flown from the coop.

As none of us really had any experience with raising a family dog, we searched through a variety of sources, including adoption services and local/regional breeders. We spent several days looking at the various options, and we finally went with the suggestion of a family friend, a retired veterinarian who recommended a breeder of miniature Australian (American) Shepherds in Oklahoma! 

The timeline worked out perfectly, as although we were in the middle of the lockdown, my brother needed to be back for an in-person meeting in Texas (this post will be apolitical, so no further comment). Driving to the breeder’s place (Parsons Place Aussies) only added an extra thirty minutes to the route, so the trip was a go! 

From the star we had our eyes set on a lovely black tri:


When we finally drove down and met the breeder, we also were able to see the whole litter. All of the pups were so adorable! In the second video, Sisi is one laying down sleepily in the bed with a couple of litter mates.

She was too young to part with her mother, so we had to wait until she was eight weeks old. This involved making another trip down a few weeks later to Oklahoma (and Texas), but the trek was unequivocally worth it! Sisi was a bit timid, as expected, only 3 or so pounds in weight, though she soon dozed off in the dog crate and on a cushion overlaying a seat.


She spent a few days in Texas as well helped my brother (and her) settle in. Sisi immediately took to treats and toys!

We made the long road trip back to Wisconsin, driving from before dawn to near dusk. Sisi handled it like the champ she is, only feeling carsick in the last five miles or so as we finally reached our destination in Southeastern Wisconsin.

We have much more space in our Wisconsin home, and she immediately took advantage of the newfound areas to roam. Using treats and a clicker, we also began to teach her some standard puppy training including “sit,” “down,” “up,” and “shake.” 

As my brother, parents, and myself were all generally back home for quarantine for the first several weeks as Sisi made herself comfortable, we were able to take turns spending time with her, helping with housetraining, and teaching her basic commands. Housetraining really wasn’t too bad, as she quickly became accustomed to the litterbox for number one and number two, and we slowly acclimated her to going outside for nature’s business. There were several “incidents,” however, in which my super-tidy mom found that she had gone number two on the hardwood flooring while wandering around the house… turned out my dad kept letting her out from the dog playpen fencing!

Sisi is quite fearless! Even as a small pup, she followed us up the stairs, though we were extra careful to ensure she did tread down on her own to prevent any slip-and-tumble mishaps. She also really like to play with ice!

By the fall, Sisi had already grown to the double-digit weight range, and she has since plateaued to a dozen playful pounds or so, clearly evident from her progression in size within the following set of pictures:


Sisi loves to go on walks, even if the weather outside is a bit chilly (it gets pretty cold in Wisconsin, haha). There Sisi goes! Keep up, mom!

Let me take a detour for a second and explain how we came up with the name “Sisi.” Naming her was a family affair, and all of us had our own name preferences in mind. We each threw in our top five choices, and together (myself, my brother, mom, and dad) we narrowed down the list to a handful of finalists. A couple of names I put forward made the shortlist, including Sarisa and Laika. My folks vetoed the first name on account of it sounding like “sorry,” and the second name didn’t really get enough traction in the end.

My parents really liked the name Sisi, after the famous Austrian Empress. Famed for her elegance, grace, and lithe figure, Empress Elisabeth of Austria has had numerous portrayals in the arts over the decades. According to my parents, there was a certain TV series of Sisi that they enjoyed immensely while in college in Beijing, and hence we chose Sisi as the name!

Sisi has grown into a beauty, and all the dogs in the neighborhood and dog park are excited to play with her.

Always fashionable, she sports a white sock higher on the right front leg than the left!

Sisi is a very outdoorsy dog, and she doesn’t mind traveling in the car to reach the dog park or go to the beach!

Another of Sisi’s favorite pastimes is to plop herself comfortably on a couch and stare off into the distance!

What thoughts cross Sisi’s mind, I wonder?

During New Year’s dinner, Sisi took some pictures with my parents and also learned how to play card games from my mom:

Sisi has joined our family for only just over a year, and already she is so important to all of us! 💖


We are all enamored with Sisi, along with anyone else who meets her!