SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 26, 2013

Ask Dog Lady: Poodle pup won't stop gnawing on new bed

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

I just purchased a new memory foam bed from a catalog for Niko, my poodle puppy, but he keeps digging into it or biting it. What can I do to make him stop before he destroys it? He’s a year and three months old.

A: Put the pricey bed away until Niko is old enough to handle such luxuries. Don’t worry about his comfort, because puppy ease is all about plopping in the nearest pile of mud. He won’t know what he is missing. Throw an old blanket in a corner of whatever room you want Niko to hang out. Make sure the blanket is ratty enough that you won’t care if the poodle mashes and mangles the throw. Go to your nearest dog mart and buy lots of healthy gnawable things — indestructible toys such as Kongs and bully sticks are good — so he has many appropriate items to grind through. At a year-plus, Niko remains a puppy with deep primal chewing and teething needs. Make sure you give him many healthy opportunities to chomp.

Dear Dog Lady.

I have had a cat named Jonnie from the time she was a kitten. She wakes me up during the night if she senses my low blood sugar. What is the cat sensing or smelling to want to wake me up?

A: You just said it yourself — low blood sugar. How do cats and dogs smell these alterations in our physical chemistry? Changes in breathing, essence, skin, odor. Alchemy. Seriously, dogs (we’ll get to cats in a minute) have been trained to sniff cancer. A researcher in Japan says trained dogs can predict colon cancer with more precision than a colonoscopy, the medical test. Some pet owners get spooked when their dog stares at them. They imagine the animal sniffs disease. While that could be the case, what the creature detects are probably changes in aura that give the animal pause.

There are stories of dogs used for emotional therapy for victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. Dogs wake families to warn of fire. Cats have a preternatural sense of smell and timing. Our pets save lives in a myriad of ways. If you question such things, some naysayer will inevitably call you nutty or loopy for imagining things. However you explain it, you’re not fantasizing your cat’s ability to sniff out situations — medical or otherwise.

If this is the bond you have with your pet, enjoy the attention. A creature cares about you enough to wake you if she senses trouble.

Dear Dog Lady,

Our 4-year-old old female shepherd mix, Olive, will howl in sync with a siren when the sound is nearby. Whether she is inside or out, she’ll stop what she’s doing, stand at attention with ears up and then start howling until the siren has passed. She doesn’t mimic other noises. Your thoughts are appreciated.

A: Howling at sirens is Olive is being Olive. She is female dog, hear her roar. She’s obviously enchanted, invigorated, enamored by the sound of a siren and needs to join the chorus with a primal howl. She’s not scared or she would cower and try to hide.

She’s not hurting anybody or threatening anyone. Do not try to train her out of this behavior or punish her for howling with the blare. Do not reward her either. You must merely stand back and appreciate your dog in all her female shepherd mixiness. Her wolf ancestors would be proud.

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