, Salem, MA

June 28, 2013

Is it OK to tote around a small dog?

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

Are there certain breeds of small dogs that like to be carried, in totes or arms, more than others? Or is it a bad idea to carry dogs around with you?

A: There are rules governing the all-breed and mutt dog universe according to “Ask Dog Lady”: Don’t dress your dog in clothes just for fun. Don’t carry your dog if the beast can walk. These are just two of the regulations. Oh sure, there are fancy doggy tote bags and lots of paparazzi pictures of Hollywood types carrying purse puppies on the red carpet. But, truly, even the tiniest Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers are tres miserable being carried around, especially when they can blow off steam under their own steam.

If Dog Lady has any doubts about this, she thinks of the obvious: Dogs are animals. They are not American Girls or Barbie dolls or Muppets. They are living, breathing creatures whose needs must be treated with respect. They need to walk, drink, eat and eliminate to live. Responsible dog owners accord them these privileges and don’t stuff them into pockets or pocketbooks.

Dear Dog Lady,

We adopted a wonderfully frisky and quirky cairn terrier, Charlie Boy, from a no-kill shelter, where he lived for at least five months before we rescued him. He displays a constellation of behaviors that we cannot seem to understand or break. He sits on the chaise lounge in our yard and stares into the neighbor’s kitchen window. When the neighbor allows her dog, a golden retriever, to go out into her yard, Charlie Boy runs frantically back and forth along our fence.

Charlie Boy becomes a whirling dervish, although he and the retriever get along nicely. But when playtime is over and the retriever wants to rest on her porch, Charlie Boy begins his frantic fence running all over again. He will run himself to exhaustion, or until the neighbor lets her dog in. We have Charlie on homeopathic flower remedies that have helped a bit, at least he no longer barks, growls and snarls while he’s running. This truly seems to be some weird compulsion. Do you think so?

A: Weird? Not for a dog. Compulsive? Yes, a million times yes. In all her years trying to decipher the behavior of dogs — and of people — Dog Lady knows one thing: Distraction is the mother of reinvention. In order to coax your dog to behave differently, you must behave differently. For example, instead of merely allowing quirky cairn Charlie to sit on the chaise lounge staring into the neighbor’s kitchen (sounds so “Desperate Housewives”), you should divert him with another activity. Take him away from galloping around the fence for a gambol at the local park. Or bring him into your house so everybody gets a break from the running of the bull. Keep up with the homeopathic remedy since it seems to be diffusing his obsessions. Charlie sounds adorably terrier — manic for no good reason.


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