Advice on Pets, Life, Love
Dear Dog Lady,
I am getting frustrated with my one-year-old Labrador retriever-mix dog. Yesterday, he ran out of the gate and ran away on me. I ran after him. It took one hour to get him thanks to two ladies who helped me. He just ran and would not listen to me or come to me at all.
I appreciate any help. Thanks.
You must always remember: A dog is a dog, not a robot. What your dog does today, he might not do tomorrow. These animals are subject to the same whims, compulsions, and temptations that drive all living creatures. You can get your pet to a place where you think you can predict his behavior and, whoops, all can change in a flash of a sudden fear or a squirrel's unexpected appearance. You must always expect the unexpected.
Yes, life with a dog can be annoying and frustrating. However, you should constantly reinforce your young dog's good behavior by using every opportunity to train him. He's a rambunctious teenager. Carry treats on you to dole out as rewards during every walk and praise him lavishly when he responds to your call. When you have the time to spend with him, take him to a field, tether him to a long line and work on recall exercises ("Come, sit, stay") - again and again.
Training a dog to live with you is a lifetime challenge.
Dear Dog Lady,
I just read a question in your column from a dog owner who asked if she could save all the dog hair she brushes out of her pet and spin it into yarn, then knit a sweater for herself out of the yarn. I used to have a triple-coated dog, too - a beautiful collie - and I once looked into doing this exact same thing with the mountain of wool she would shed in the spring. It seems a shame to waste all that hair, doesn't it?
It's one of those weird-but-harmless ideas only a pet lover would come up with. But alas, there is a problem with spun dog hair because you never get the doggy smell out of it. If your new hair-of-the-dog sweater gets wet, you guessed it - the garment smells like wet dog. Needless to say, I passed on this idea. I love dogs, but I wouldn't want to smell like one!
Thanks so much for joining-and, perhaps, ending-the conversation about knitting a garment with the sloughed fur from dogs. We like to think our own dog doesn't smell but, face facts, of course he does. Dog Lady remembers her dear Shorty's bad breath. There was something so strangely comforting in the foul-to everyone else-odor. Shorty's scent was worth millions to me.
Yes, perhaps it is best to leave other peoples' hair of the dog well enough alone.
Dear Dog Lady,
My adorable almost-three-year-old Yorkshire terrier Charlie has decided he no longer wants to run (or even walk) up and down the steps in our house. Until recently, he would climb the steps many times a day. From what I can tell he hasn't been injured - he walks and runs just fine. But he won't even attempt to climb the stairs. He simply sits at the bottom (or the top) and cries until we scoop him up and bring him up (or down) in our arms. (Months ago, long before this behavior started, he took a spill down the stairs, but he seemed to recover just fine.) This isn't life or death, but it is getting annoying. Any ideas?
Dear Charlie's Crutch
You should have Charlie thoroughly checked by a veterinarian because you never know if there's some underlying physical ailment bugging him. If everything checks out, you should get Charlie a rug. You don't say how old or how big he is but, as they age, dog joints rub together and creak. They can skid and slip on shiny wood or hard floors (tile or linoleum). This is painful enough to root them in place. Rugs will give Charlie the grip he needs. As for treating you like his yak, he will use you as his crutch as long as you let him. Place a few of his favorite treats on the stairs and see how long it takes for him to ascend.
Dear Dog Lady,
I read your column and agree wholeheartedly about spaying and neutering (procedures Ask Dog Lady enthusiastically endorses). The supposed animal lovers who don't fix their dogs should volunteer at shelters, especially the ones that euthanize. It breaks your heart to see all the animals in cages waiting for human kindness and contact. I have a rescued dog and a cat that chose me and both are "fixed" because I care.
Thanks for your good words. If only everybody abided by them.
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