SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 5, 2012

Ask Dog Lady: Does my dog need a pet dog?

Ask Dog Lady Monica Collins
The Salem News

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

I suffer major guilt because I’ve been neglecting Peanut the poodle. I go to work early in the morning and my teenage daughter usually walks the dog. But she’s been away at camp this summer and starts school at the crack of dawn in the fall. I have to race Peanut out before the sun comes up or leave it to his dog walker who comes around 11. Peanut hasn’t messed in the house so far. Actually, he’s a very good dog. I take him out for big walks on weekends. I’m wondering if I should get another dog to keep him company because I’m away so much and the kids have their own lives.

— Marge

A: If you have so much guilt about Peanut the First, can you imagine how much greater the responsibility with Peanut the Second? You can always get another dog but do you have the time to care for two?

Dog Lady never wants to warn anybody away from a dog. However, you would be getting another dog for all the wrong reasons — to please Peanut and not to please you. For now, it sounds as if things are better under control than you think. You have a dog walker. Peanut enjoys enough outside time so he hasn’t been desperate enough to abandon his house training. You have the opportunity to provide walks on weekends.

In our lives, we inevitably go through times when we’re crushingly busy punctuated by periods of indolence. Our pets must go with this flow. Dogs are not children. You don’t have to worry about taking them to soccer practice and other activities. Dogs merely care about walking and sniffing out their news while you lead the way. When you’re not around, they close down until the next wake-up call.

Dear Dog Lady,

I raised one Labrador retriever, which became THE perfect relationship for 13 years. Lulu was mine until she died of cancer. Nihiz, a giant Schnauzer, lived ‘til she was 171/2 years. She had loyalty, brains and stubbornness. I now have Sasha, a complete mystery, who keeps biting me with sharp puppy teeth. She thinks my shorts are chew toys and she’s really aggressive. I want so much to keep her.

— Michael

A: So keep her. Why would you even think of giving her up? Because she bites your shorts? Please. This too shall pass. Endure and you will build a relationship similar to the one you enjoyed with Lulu and Nahiz. But, remember, Sasha will never be Lulu or Nahiz. She’s a different dog and you must cut her some slack as she learns to adjust to you and your ways. Your previous dogs grew into you the way a tree root bends around the sidewalk. You had them for many years. You can never expect this puppy to immediately assume the position they enjoyed.

Invest in some bully sticks. These are natural chew sticks and dogs love them. When Sasha gnaws on you, give her a quick “no!” and immediately substitute something she can chomp on. Right now, her teeth inform her actions and she can’t help herself.

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Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her website is www.askdoglady.com. Contact her at askdoglady@gmail.com or at facebook.com/askdoglady.