SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 13, 2013

Ask Dog Lady: After breakup, will dog adjust to two homes?

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

My boyfriend of seven years and I have split up. We have an English bulldog, Bunco, together. The dog turned 2 in November. My “ex” put down the money to purchase Bunco so technically the dog is his. We have agreed to share him equally since I am so attached. My question: Is it good for the dog to go back and forth? My ex is not home a lot and I was the main caregiver for Bunco. I just worry that he will be left alone too much and he will get depressed. This is why we have agreed to share. But, do you think he will adjust and be OK? I want what is best for him, but I also don’t want to give up seeing him.

A: Dogs are elastic creatures. They bend around circumstances. Dogs can love — and nap — indiscriminately. If your “ex” cares about Bunco as much as you do, put aside human emotions and try not to worry the dog will be depressed. Bunco will adjust.

Since you agree to share Bunco equally, you should step up to make sure the dog receives outings during the day to relieve himself and to exercise. Also, ensure Bunco has a comfortable den to hang out when alone. Insert yourself so you are still responsible for his well-being. This is what sharing a dog entails as both parties have an equal say in how the dog is tended. Make sure you agree to use the same veterinarian. Bunco will enjoy the benefits of friends, which you and your ex should remain for the sake of the bulldog.

Dear Dog Lady,

I have been an animal person all my life. I grew up with four different cats but have always wanted a dog. Now that I’m 29 and stable and in a place where I can devote enough time to a dog I’m wondering which of the following breeds would be the best suited to my conditions. I will be living in a one- or two-bedroom apartment with no yard per se but it will have an outdoor area. I’ll be able to walk/exercise the dog at least once a day if not more often. I’m willing to groom the dog once or twice a week. I want a mid-sized to large dog with a long, thick coat.

The dog breeds I’m most interested in, in this order, are: 1: Samoyed 2: Siberian husky 3: Collie (not border) 4: Newfoundland 5: Labrador retriever 6: Golden retriever. Which of these dog breeds are best for a first-time dog owner who is generally great with animals? Most dogs tend to love me. I’m also looking for the most affectionate type of dog. I’m really interested in the first three breed options due to their aesthetic quality and beauty. I’d like to stay away from Newfoundlands, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers if at all possible as I do not find them as aesthetically pleasing.

A: Dogs are not supermodels. Do not select a dog for looks. Choose for temperament. You must consider how the creature will blend with your lifestyle. From the details you provide, any of the breeds you mention would be a very bad fit. A Samoyed trapped in a one-bedroom apartment would be stifled by the lack of outdoor space to sprawl. Samoyeds and Siberian huskies need cool air, cold water, and epic walks across the tundra. Collies require romps in fields of green. Newfoundlands crave the outdoors. Even in a blizzard, a Newfie can park itself under a tree and refuse to budge. You have not done your research about the needs of these large breeds — and let’s not even mention how your apartment will become a den of dander and fluff if you insist on grooming by yourself.

Great you want a dog but you need to do more homework. Visit a local shelter and look for a smaller dog requiring less maintenance. And, please, toss all that annoying “aesthetically pleasing” snobbery when choosing a dog.

Dear Dog Lady,

This guy I’ve been seeing for a few months surprised me and gave me a live dog for my birthday, a Pomeranian he named Scooter. I was very annoyed he handed me this responsibility. I never asked for a dog and I’m still deciding whether I want to keep it. I know I want to dump the guy. Surprising someone with a dog is not a nice thing to do. Right?

A: Double right. Dog Lady hears you and seconds that emotion. And, speaking of emotions, the fellow who gave you the dog was making an out-of-the-park play for yours. Alas, shocking someone with a hairy heap of responsibility — no matter how cute — is a bad break for the recipient, the hapless critter caught in the middle, and the giver. You may learn to love the dog; unfortunately, the guy not so much. This extravagant gesture seems to have sunk his chances.

People, remember, you should never give anyone a dog — unless you are totally prepared and eager to take care of the dog yourself.

---

Look for the “Ask Dog Lady” Facebook fan page.