SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 7, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: Husband or beloved pet? Who knows the difference?

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady, I have an acquaintance I see from time to time. Whenever we bump into one another, she launches right into the latest medical trials of Louie. For the longest time, I had no clue who Louie was. I thought he was her husband because she kept talking of “elderly Louie’s liver problems.” Finally, when I ran into her a few weeks ago, she told me about Louie’s doctor finding a nasal passage tumor and an age-related heart murmur. She finally referred to Louie’s doctor as a “vet” so I figured out Louie is her dog. Why must people talk about their dogs like people?

Harley

A: Even if Louie were her husband and not her dog, she would not make any distinction. There are unfiltered people who launch into personal conversation as if the listener knows all the players intimately. Your acquaintance is guilty of this.

To her and to many others, dogs are people. And she obviously treats Louie with all the care and concern of a human relation. Nothing wrong with it except if she treats Louie’s medical problems and ignores a human family member’s health concerns. Then, it’s nutty.

By the way, her scrupulous veterinarian is pretty amazing to conduct checkups that can reveal nasal passage tumors and age-related heart murmurs in an elderly dog. Dog Lady adores her darling senior terrier but she’s not sure darling (or Dog Lady) could endure this kind of rigorous medical detection.

Dear Dog Lady, My husband and I have a little Aussie (Australian shepherd) that is, for the most part, an incredibly well-behaved dog. However, whenever we leave, he turns in to the Hulk and tears up anything he can get his hands on.

Is it too late for crate training? My husband squirms at the thought of caging our pet up for a few hours and is quite resistant. Should I cage both of them up? Help! I’m running out of shoes.

Bossy Pants

A: Not too late for crate training — for both your Aussie and your hubby. Aussie needs the confines of an enclosure. Your husband needs to learn containers for dogs are good. A dog views its crate (the politically correct name for “cage”) as a welcome sanctuary.

Dear Dog Lady, I have a 1-year-old Sealyham terrier. He loves to put his mouth around one of his stuffed toys and just pulse gently up and down. He can do this for 20 to 30 minutes. What do you think this means?

Brenda

A: Sealy’s a youngster and still teething. Mouthing gives him gummy comfort as his choppers emerge. Also, this behavior is very puppy-ish. Surrounded by a bunch of siblings in the den, he would probably gum them too.

To our dogs, stuffed animals fulfill a variety of roles — prey, sibling, plaything, squirrel-substitute. Our dogs take stuffed toys very seriously so make sure your pet has at least one. A plush animal with a squeaker lets out an expiring squawk. An inanimate animal allows your Sealyham to rock gently imagining he’s back in the old country killing a rodent softly.

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