, Salem, MA

January 10, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: West Highland terrier’s antics concern owner

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

I have a question about my Westie (West Highland white terrier) pup (she’s actually 4): She puts her nose in her food bowl, then lifts it out and rotates around the bowl and does it again and again. We thought it might be because the metal loop on her collar was tapping against the food bowl and making a loud noise. We took her collar off, and she still does it. I am really confused about why Paisley is doing this. I have never heard or seen it before. What would be this cause?

Also, Paisley sleeps upside down (with her belly up and her feet in the air). I know this is something simple, but I don’t know if this position is good for her.

A: Westies are the most seriously comic characters on earth. Why they do what they do has caused terrier scholars smarter than Dog Lady to scratch their heads in befuddlement. Why does Paisley play ring-around-the-rosey with the food bowl? Your guess is as good as Dog Lady’s. Great idea to think the collar jangle might cause this. Another suggestion? The bowl is too big. You might try a small ceramic food holder. Also, do not overfeed Paisley so she has no time to play with her food. You want Paisley sassy and svelte for years to come.

As for sleeping belly up, this is a normal snooze position for a secure and happy dog.

Dear Dog Lady,

How many dogs is one person allowed to own in an urban area? My new neighbor has five or six dogs. They range from a German shepherd to shih-tzus. She has only lived there for a week or so, but I haven’t seen her walk the dogs at all. Not once. My other concern is that she is very obese and a smoker. I can only assume she never walks the dogs.

She has a very small yard. The dogs freely wander into our yard, and she constantly yells at them not to. They really aren’t bad dogs and do listen to her for the most part. My major concern is that the dogs don’t get enough exercise. She picks up the poop (so far).

My senior citizen neighbor is terrified of dogs. I mentioned this to the new neighbor and she said, “I don’t care.” She is a neighbor, and I want to get off on the right foot, but I just had to bite my tongue to avoid saying something nasty.

What should I do? The dogs seem happy enough, and they are obviously the only thing she really cares about. However, I don’t think she realizes not walking them is bad for her, the neighbors and the dogs themselves. Should Animal Control be called to check on their welfare?

A: This graphic case study of your new neighbor reminds us all that dogs can be a divisive issue in close-crowded urban areas. Some cities do put limits on dog ownership. You should call your city’s Animal Control office to check on this. You should also check in with Animal Control to see how to handle this situation. You don’t want to dime out the new neighbor, but you can register your concern anonymously. No one is legally obligated to walk pet dogs. Still, the animals should not hinder the safe enjoyment of others’ homes and property.

Dog Lady cringes. Urban dog owners have no entitlement. They must be scrupulously responsible and not infringe upon anyone else. Dog Lady is no goody-goody, but she is a scaredy-cat about cities and towns imposing legal restrictions because of a few rotten dog owners who do not pick up the poop and do not properly train or handle their animals. Your new neighbor stretches the limit.

Dear Dog Lady,

I recently had to leave my Chihuahua, Peanut, with my sister and her family for the weekend due to an increased work load. After picking him up, I found he had fleas. I was devastated; I never have gone through this. I immediately took him to the groomer to get shaven, as well as bathed and treated for the fleas. How do I now deal with my sister and her family? I don’t want to take Peanut over there for fear that he will get infested again. I am too embarrassed to tell my sister.

A: Fleas should not come between siblings. Fess up to your sister. Check with your veterinarian who will advise you on the proper flea and tick treatment for Peanut. A groomer is not the first line of defense against bugs. Anyway, you can’t be sure the fleas came from your sister’s. Maybe your home has a few flying around.

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