SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 15, 2013

Ask Dog Lady: Celebrity's remarks ruffle some feathers

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

I read this interview with (fashion designer/celebrity) Isaac Mizrahi who talked about his dog. I think he’s very funny and his clothes are great. I also really like his TV show on cable. But I was disappointed in what he had to say about his dog, Dean, and visitors to his house. I thought I’d quote some here and ask your opinion: “People come to my house, and they get bitten and barked at and terrified, and they run away screaming. (Dean) is kind of a monster.”

Mizrahi continues: “I tend to not be the best disciplinarian in the world. I [shouldn’t] say no and yet be laughing hysterically while (the dog) is chewing somebody’s Prada sweater. I have to figure out how I can get him to stop barking in a very humane, nice way. I don’t know how to do it, frankly, and it’s driving me mad.”

A: Actually, this sort of off-the-cuff cutesy complaining about dogs chewing, terrifying people, barking and biting makes Dog Lady sad. Isaac Mizrahi is a colorful character, and this rover riff seems part of his shtick, as well as irresponsible and ridiculous. It’s so not amusing when a dog chews a Prada sweater or chases guests from the house. You are very right to be disappointed by these reckless remarks from somebody whom you admire otherwise.

Sure, dog misbehavior can be funny, but when it hurts other people, it’s serious. When dog misbehavior is caused by human laziness, it’s sad. Here, you have examples of both. Dog Lady has a wicked sense of humor, and she certainly doesn’t mean to be Debby Dogmatic. Before Isaac Mizrahi made jokes about dogs biting house guests, he should have bit his tongue and thought what kind of message this would send.

Because of bad dog behavior and the humans who don’t take it seriously, too many dogs are abandoned or wind up in shelters. No joke.

Dear Dog Lady,

We have a 9-year-old bichon frise named Daisy. She is a very healthy dog that has shown some strange behavior within the last year. Every so often, she will start to scratch at windows or a corner of an outside wall. She has a very strange almost scared look. We let her out at the door, and she sits for hours in heat, rain, snow or cold just staring.

I am thinking this may be age related. Maybe she’s becoming senile? Most other times, she is a normal, happy dog. What are your ideas?

A: Make an appointment with your veterinarian and have her checked out. Remember that dogs stare. They can stare so hard and so long, it can be creepy. Snap them out of it by clapping your hands, trilling their names and giving them a command to sit or lie down.

Daisy’s scratching and staring by the window and at the corner of the outside wall might be because she hears something — the pitter-patter of rodent feet, whatever. Remember, dogs hear frequencies far above and beyond human range.

Daisy could have a touch of dementia, which really presents no cause for alarm if she is a normal, happy dog most of the time. Your vet can certainly talk to you about this and the vagaries of the animal aging process.

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