, Salem, MA

April 4, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: Cairn terrier needs to shed some pounds

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

My elderly aunt who has dementia often forgot whether she fed her 10-year-old cairn terrier and would overfeed him constantly. He currently weighs in at 38 pounds.

Because my aunt recently had to move into a nursing home, my husband and I have taken in her dog. He is obviously eating a lot less now, and he gets a lot more exercise than he had before. Do you have any other advice about how to slim him down?

A: Wow, 38 pounds is quite corpulent for a cairn. A half-cup of kibble a day is more than enough for this dear porker. Keep the treats to a minimum, although it will be tough because this cairn must be so cute. Consult a veterinarian about how much weight the dog should shed.

Substitute walks for food. Exercise is so important in any weight loss campaign. Is there a doggy playgroup somewhere in the neighborhood? There are also games to encourage a dog to work for food.

You were very kind to take in your aunt’s dear cairn. You are very thoughtful to seek solutions for his care and feeding.

Dear Dog Lady,

When I moved to a basement apartment from my old house, I asked the landlord if I could have my bird come with me. He agreed. At the time, I didn’t have a dog, but now I would like to have a female Boston terrier. They are the cleanest and quietest dogs in creation. They do not shed or smell (even when wet). They are super-obedient and make good watchdogs.

On the Internet, I found a dog cage that is divided into bathroom and bedroom compartments. This can be used for potty-training and for “indoor dogs” such as Boston terriers. I am disabled (arthritis in both knees). I feel a cage of this nature would suffice for bathroom breaks if I kept it scrupulously clean. I am willing to do that.

My brother is trying to discourage me, but he has a home and two cats of his own. I haven’t approached the landlord on this, but he is a family friend. I don’t want him to raise the rent, and I don’t want to cause trouble. Can you give me positive input?

A: Everyone should have the dog of their dreams. However, when you start off by saying you’re not able to give a pet the exercise and training it requires, you’re setting yourself up for a troubled relationship and disappointment.

A dog should not eliminate in its cage. This is unnatural for the animal because its instinct is to keep its living area clean. No dog should be trained to go indoors. This only leads to mess and regret. And a Boston terrier, like every dog, requires fresh air and sunshine to thrive. Oh, and Boston terriers do shed. Read around the Web page of the Boston Terrier Club of America ( for more information. There is a list of organization officers and contacts for questions. Your heart is in the right place for a dog, but the conditions do not seem favorable.

Question? Write Visit to see pictures, read about Dog Lady’s dog and see “Ask Dog Lady,” the TV show.