SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 24, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: Pup’s affections make older dog run

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

I have a 4-year-old male mutt Simba that I love to death. My boyfriend and I decided we wanted another dog. We bought a 7-week-old female mutt Jasmine that my boyfriend fell in love with. New puppy princess Jasmine follows Simba around and wants to play and cuddle with him. But Simba freaks out and runs away. When he is asleep, we pick up Jasmine and lay her next to him. Simba just gets up and moves away. The more attached Jasmine has gotten to Simba, the more she cries when she is not next to him and, of course, Simba runs away. What should I do? I love my babies very much and want them to get along.

A: Simba doesn’t want to mother the puppy, and you force the role upon him. Puppies shouldn’t leave the natal nest until they are at least 8 weeks old. Ten weeks is optimum. You brought Jasmine home at 7 weeks. She hadn’t yet learned all her weaning ways. She must have attached immediately to Simba in order to figure out how the world works. Now, he basically says, “Get lost, kid.” He doesn’t want to be bachelor father.

Stop imagining your dogs as babies. They are dogs, and they will work it out if you leave them alone. And make sure you give Simba whatever you did before the puppy joined the household. For starters, allow him to sleep undisturbed in his own place. You must trust your dogs will bond eventually. For now, their primary bond should be with you.

Dear Dog Lady,

I love dogs. In fact, I love dogs so much that I don’t own one. I have a house with a small yard, and I refuse to get a dog until I have a yard with space for him to enjoy his life. Unfortunately, you and many of your readers seem intent on having a dog whether it’s good for the dog or not.

In your “Ask Dog Lady” column, you responded to a woman whose dog was chewing everything in the house. Your advice was to keep the dog confined in a crate, in a room or behind a gate.

Consider the quality of life for this dog that nature designed to run and roam free. He will be severely confined inside a crate or at best in a room, for the vast majority of his day, with at best an hour of exercise walking on a leash. This is a lifestyle we reserve for our worst criminals in solitary confinement.

Your advice is designed to force the poor animal into a completely unnatural lifestyle for the convenience of its owner, so the owner can benefit from the dog’s loyalty and companionship. What a poor reward for such a gift.

If a person doesn’t have the proper space for a dog, the answer is not to force the dog to behave like a hamster in a cage. The answer is to not have a dog. It’s just that simple.

A: Your well-reasoned letter makes perfect sense — for you and your nonexistent dog. However, for other people and their real and beloved pets, your prison scenario isn’t the case. Many dogs are quite happy to be contained in crates or cages (the politically incorrect term for dog enclosures). These are the animals’ safe houses for peaceful solitary confinement. Crates are also effective house-training tools.

In the “Ask Dog Lady” response to the woman whose dog chewed everything, you might have also seen the sharp finger wag at the writer. She should pick up whatever she doesn’t want her dog to munch. She should substitute canine-friendly chewables so the dog learns what is permissible to mouth. We humans are responsible for our dogs’ success. We train them to live with us. We are the dunces if they flunk. Through their domesticated natures, dogs want to please us by fitting in. We should not fail them.

You are to be complimented for deciding your lifestyle cannot support a dog. You have thought it all out, and you have made a good decision — for you. Others would naturally disagree.

Dear Dog Lady,

All but one of my/our six dogs had been lucky happenings without having had to search. The latest, a rescue, was a dear but had health problems and the veterinarian couldn’t help. I wonder where to begin looking for another. Now that I am old, I hope to find a small animal I will be able to lift without pain and one that is more couch potato than border collie. Do you advise local shelters? National searches via the Web? Newspaper ads? There’s luck of course.

Thanks for your thoughtful work.

A: Local shelters are a good place to start — especially if you visit first and tell the staff about the sort of dog you seek. Dog Lady loves your description of “more couch potato than border collie,” which describes your ideal pet succinctly. If you make a connection with a shelter, perhaps make a donation, they will keep your request in mind. Naturally, there’s always luck. Dogs come into people’s lives in the strangest and most wonderful ways. Keep your eyes open. Your heart sounds ready.

Pet perplexed? Visit askdoglady.com to ask a question or make a comment. Follow “Ask Dog Lady” on Facebook and @askdoglady on Twitter.