SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 25, 2013

Hardworking couple find puppy hard to resist

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q: After college, I met my boyfriend. When we got engaged, I moved from Boston to New York to be with him. He works in banking, and I am in hospital administration. We plan to be married later this year. We live in a cramped Upper East Side apartment. Every day on my way to work, I walk past a trendy puppy store. I say trendy because they only sell breeds. I am smitten by an adorable black schnauzer I see in the window. This puppy looks so forlorn and lonely. I asked my fiance if we could buy him even though we both work more than 10 hours a day. He’s still thinking about it. We’ve dropped by the puppy store a few times to see the dog we call Puddles for no particular reason. What do you think?

A: The store window filled with puppy breath is a brute to resist, but please do. You and your fiance work too many hours to give the time Puddles deserves. This pet store progeny probably needs a lot more training and attention than a dog weaned in a healthier environment. Puddles could come from a puppy mill. You don’t know. And, to be honest, you don’t want to know.

You can’t save the world one puppy at a time. So avoid the puppy store for a while. Walk on a different block, the opposite side of the street. New York offers lots of possibilities to take a path away from the pups. Hope in your heart that Puddles finds a home, but know in your heart that you did the right thing. You and your fiance have your whole lives ahead of you — many dogs, no regrets.

Q: We are in sorrow in our family for we just lost our beloved Chihuahua (“Tiny”). On Christmas Day, he walked out while in the backyard (he hadn’t done this in three years). We noticed his absence upon returning home in the afternoon.

All our attempts to bring him back: questions to neighbors, ads, visits to animal shelters, and exploration inside and outside our home have failed. We are so devastated, for he has been a family member since the time we got him eight years ago.

Please, give us some advice for a more effective search. We are still hopeful we can find and bring him back home.

A: This column is for everyone, so Dog Lady tries to use letters that speak to the universal dog experience. Your letter is gut-wrenching because it describes what we all fear — a missing dog. Tiny, your sweet Chihuahua, always stayed in the backyard until ... he didn’t anymore.

Our dogs are not droids. Just because they’ve done the same thing for three years doesn’t mean they will do it for three years and one day. You should have properly secured Tiny before you left him on Christmas. Even if you never put him in the house before, you should have done it as long as there was any possibility he could wander off.

Let’s hope Tiny is home by now. You seem to be searching through all the promising venues. If he has been found, you learn a hard lesson: Our dogs can surprise us for better and worse.

Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook or Twitter at @askdoglady. Email questions to askdoglady@gmail.com.