Q: I've been smoking cigarettes for almost 30 years. Recently, I've developed a smoker's hack, so I've decided it's time to quit once and for all. Friends encourage me and say quitting will also help my 2-year-old Maltese. Is there any evidence that secondhand smoke hurts dogs?
A: A petite Maltese has much smaller lungs than a human. If secondhand smoke is toxic for our lungs, can you imagine how it impacts your dog — or any living creature in your smoggy orbit? Just quit. Put on the nicotine patch, chew the gum, suck the lozenge, stop cold turkey, whatever it takes.
There's no easy way to quit smoking when you have been addicted for a while. You must tough it out no matter what method you use. Take it day by day. Walk the Maltese a lot. Eventually, the cravings become less intense and you begin to feel deep relief. Look into the innocent face of your dog if you need moral support.
Dog Lady has struggled with this. Finally, she quit, with no small amount of help from her canine coach. Darling dog was always good to go for a walk, which helped step by step. Let your dog breathe free, and allow him the pleasure of walking you smokeless. Dogs can provide compelling reminders of why we want to live.
Q: I want to help out at a local dog shelter near my house, but I was wondering if any of my three dogs would be upset by my coming home smelling like "another dog." I have a 5-year-old Jack Russell and two rat terrier-Chihuahua mixes, 4 and 3 years old. What do you think?
A: Perfume on your collar will tell no tale on you. Neither will the smells of other dogs. Congratulations for volunteering at a shelter, which is a fine activity on the side of the angels.
Your own pack is bound to be more intrigued than angry. When you come home, they might sniff around your pant legs and inhale the shelter bouquet — "Gee, Jeff's been somewhere very exciting." Your dogs will be titillated by your new smells; they won't be upset or jealous. The latter emotion plagues humans, not dogs.
Q: I have a new puppy, and he keeps picking up small stones in my yard and chewing on them. I keep trying to take them out of his mouth. Is it harmful if they are swallowed? I don't really know if he's swallowing any of them. Always enjoy your column.
A: Rocks are not good in the head or in a dog's stomach. You have to teach him what rocks and what doesn't. Puppies want to eat/chew/munch/jaw anything they can get hold of. Stock up on safe alternatives — bully sticks, Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter — and substitute these for inappropriate items. Keep new puppy contained so his world is safer.
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Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her website is www.askdoglady.com. Contact her at email@example.com or facebook.com/askdoglady.