Dog massage

Today’s Bizarro:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

In case you didn’t know that Shih Tzu is the name of a breed of dog, you can infer that from the cartoon, and you can see that the little dogs are (absurdly) being used to give a massage here. That’s funny in a way, but to really appreciate the cartoon, you have to know that there’s a type of massage known as shiatsu. Cultural knowledge looms again.

From Wikipedia, the breed and the bodywork:

A Shih Tzu …, also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog, is a toy dog breed, weighing 10–19 pounds (4.5–8.6kg) when fully grown. The exact origins of the breed are unknown, but it is thought to have originated in Tibet and then been developed in China. (link)

Shiatsu … is a form of Japanese bodywork based on the theoretical framework of traditional Chinese medicine. In the Japanese language, shiatsu means “finger pressure”. Shiatsu techniques include massages with fingers, thumbs, feet and palms; assisted stretching; and joint manipulation and mobilization. (link)

Notes on pronunciation: shiatsu is pronounced /ʃi.ˈa.tsu/ (preserving the syllable-initial /ts/ of Japanese (and Chinese)) or /ʃi.ˈ (conforming better to English syllable structure), and Shih-Tsu is essentially the same but in two syllabes, without the /a/:

/ˈʃi.ˈtsu/ or /ˈʃi.ˈdzu/ (with Chinese syllable division) or /ˈʃit.ˈsu/ (nativized)

A fair number of speakers lax the vowel in the first syllable of the nativized version, producing something with shit in it, and opening the way for crude jokes.

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