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Thursday Dec 31, 2020

Ask Dog Lady

Dear Dog Lady,
'Tis the holiday season and being in a festive mood I bought my dog Max (a 75-pound pit bull/Labrador mix) a pair of reindeer antlers. His coloring is such that he truly looks like a reindeer with them on, not to mention the fact he looks adorably funny. We got them at the pet store the other day and I made him walk home with them on. He did a great job of wearing them on the short walk home and didn't try to shake them off. When we got home, however, he gave me a look that said, "You owe me."
My question: Do I owe him?

Dear Brian,
Of course you owe him. However, the great thing about dogs is their magical ability to never feel embarrassment, to ignore all grudges and gripes. The canine species is not hobbled by vanity or by meting out retribution. Your dog is always a good trooper. You owe him the gifts of the season — a great romp, a yummy treat and chew, a bowl of food and a winter's nap on a soft blanket.

The above letter was one if my favorite queries among the hundreds I have received over the years. And, yes, Dog Lady is finally speaking to you, my dear readers, in the first person after nearly 20 years of writing in the distant third. Dog Lady (and that has always been me) pops out at the end to say "goodbye" and "thank you."
Goodbye because I am hanging up the leash after decades of giving advice both cheeky and stern. It always amazed me how seriously we try to understand these creatures in our lives. They confound us; they delight us; they want to please us; and they love us more than is reasonable. And we love them — despite their indiscretions and bad behavior. They bring humor, companionship, and great dollops of love into our lives They can drive us crazy but, ultimately, it all comes back to us.
"All dogs are perfect; people need help" has been the motto of "Ask Dog Lady" since the column began in 2000 in the "Bark" magazine. It also appeared in "Modern Dog" and "Urban Dog" magazines as well as and in various newspapers around the country including the "Chicago Sun Times" and "Cleveland Plain Dealer." However, home base for "Ask Dog Lady" has always been the South End News, the journal of the Boston neighborhood where dogs and dog people gather.
Thanks to publishers Jeff Coakley and Sue O'Connell for picking up the column. I remember the day when then-editor Franklin Tucker gave me the go-ahead to start writing "Ask Dog Lady" every other week. It's as if I had been given the keys to the kingdom.
Now, I say goodbye to the column with hundreds of columns to show for it. If I did anything, I hope I helped people be a little kinder to those innocent critters in their lives.

Monica Collins

(You can still read many "Ask Dog Lady" columns at