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Thursday Jun 8, 2017

Ask Dog Lady

Advice on Pets, Life, Love

Dear Readers,

If you haven't figured it out by now, Dog Lady has a West Highland white terrier. Dexter, a two-year-old rescue, is Dog Lady's second Westie. Dearly departed Shorty (he lived 15 and ¾ years) was the first. In fact, beloved Shorty was the inspiration for this column. Dog Lady is not the only scribe besotted by the breed. Two of Dog Lady's journalist pals, Boston Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis and Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam are also Westie keepers. Recently, Beam hosted a "Bring Your Own Westie" party and invited every Westie cum devoted owner he knew. A good time was had by all. The dogs ran circles around the humans and, for a sublime moment, we forgot all about bloodsport politics and a world spinning crazily. Dog Lady heartily suggests a dog party to take your mind off your troubles.

Here's a recent question about the amusing Westie personality:

Dear Dog Lady,

I have a question about my Westie (West Highland white terrier) pup (she's actually four): She puts her nose in her food bowl then lifts it out and rotates around the bowl and does it again and again. We thought it might be because the metal loop on her collar was tapping against the food bowl and making a loud noise. We took her collar off and she still does it. I am really confused about why Paisley is doing this. I have never heard or seen it before. What would be this cause?

Also, Paisley sleeps upside down (with her belly up and her feet in the air). I know this is something simple but I don't know if this position is good for her.


Dear Reagan,

Westies are the most seriously comic characters on earth. Why they do what they do has caused terrier scholars smarter than Dog Lady to scratch their heads in befuddlement. Why does Paisley play ring-around-the-rosey with the food bowl? Your guess is as good as Dog Lady's. Great idea to think the collar jangle might cause this. Another suggestion? The bowl is too big. You might try a small ceramic food holder. Also, do not over feed Paisley so she has no time to play with her food. You want Paisley sassy and svelte for years to come.

As for sleeping belly up, this is a normal snooze position for a secure and happy dog, exposing privates for all to see.

Dear Dog Lady,

How many dogs is one person allowed to own in an urban area? My new neighbor has five or six dogs. They range from a German shepherd to shih-tzus. She has only lived there for a week or so, but I haven't seen her walk the dogs at all. Not once. My other concern is that she is very obese and a smoker. I can only assume she never walks the dogs.

She has a very small yard. The dogs freely wonder into our yard as she constantly yells at them not too. They really aren't bad dogs, and do listen to her for the most part. My major concern is that the dogs don't get enough exercise. She picks up the poop (so far).

My senior citizen neighbor is terrified of dogs. I mentioned this to the new neighbor and she said, "I don't care." She is a neighbor, and I want to get off on the right foot, but I just had to bite my tongue from saying something nasty.

What should I do? The dogs seem happy enough, and they are obviously the only thing she really cares about. However, I don't think she realizes not walking them is bad for her, the neighbors, and the dogs themselves. Should animal control be called to check on their welfare?


Dear Peter,

This graphic case study of your new neighbor reminds us all that dogs can be a divisive issue in close crowded urban areas. Some cities do put limits on dog ownership. The limits are two to four dogs. You should call your Boston's Animal Control office to check on this. You should also check in with Animal Control to see how to handle this situation. You don't want to dime out the new neighbor but you can register your concern anonymously. No one is legally obligated to walk pet dogs. Still, the animals should not hinder the safe enjoyment of others' homes and property.

Dog Lady cringes. Urban dog owners must be scrupulously responsible and not infringe upon anyone else. Dog Lady is no goody-goody but she is a scaredy-cat about legal restrictions because of a few rotten dog owners who do not pick up the poop and do not properly train or handle their animals. Your new neighbor stretches the limit.

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