Q: I have a West Highland terrier named Max. He is Mr. Personality, a wonderful Westie — high-spirited, sometimes bossy and always amusing. I take him to be groomed regularly at a place that only handles Westies. When I picked up Max recently from this dog spa, I was annoyed to find the groomer had put the wrong collar on my dog. She also handed me the wrong leash.
Max surprised me when he jumped right into the car. He’s never done that before. When we got home, he promptly pooped twice in the kitchen. More unusual behavior. Later that evening, he refused to go into his crate, his sanctuary. Finally, my youngest son spotted an impostor: “Mom, this dog isn’t Max.” My stomach turned. I knew he was right.
Turns out I had picked up another dog at the groomer. No wonder the groomer handed me the wrong leash and collar. I had confused Westie Max with Westie Eddie. When I went to pick Max up at Eddie’s house, my dog was living the high life at a beautiful estate. He barely looked up when I arrived to fetch him and deposit Eddie. However, in a flash of wonderful recognition, he kissed me madly and seemed eager to get home. Now, everything has returned to normal, but I’m still rattled. How could I not recognize my own dog?
A: Sometimes, the people we love most are the people we see least. You live with your family every day of your life and, yet, how often do you really take the time to look at them, to admire them, to savor their aspects? Your letter suggests we should pay more attention. Even if they look the same, no two living creatures are the same. It is the beauty of diversity.
You’re right to be shaken and chastened. But learn a sublime life lesson. You must certainly see Max with new eyes. You will never lose him again. And he will never lose you. Your dog was living large at Eddie’s house, and you believe he didn’t miss you. Yet, he showered you with kisses. He’d know your scent anywhere. A dog’s unconditionally loving instinct would compel him to pick you out of a crowd of groomed humans. Your dog would never misplace you.
Q: After reading your comments about un-neutered dogs, I can’t help but ask why any dog’s business is your business or my business?
A: A dog’s business is everybody’s business because of pet overpopulation. There are too many unwanted dogs out there. The fortunate ones end up in shelters where they sit in cold cages, barking their hearts out until they are either put out of their misery or taken in by people who can give them a new beginning.
Spaying or neutering your dog is responsible. When you do this, you earn your canine cred because it’s humane and a wise course of action — not only for your dog but for all dogs and people. Badger Dog Lady all you want, but she will never change her mind about this.
Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook. Write your questions or send to firstname.lastname@example.org.