Columns » Holistically Speaking

Ask Dog Lady

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Thursday Oct 30, 2014

Advice on Pets, Life, Love

by Monica Collins

Dear Dog Lady,

Halloween is my favorite time of year. I even named Spooky, a Scottie, after the holiday although Spooky is not very scary. Each year, I try putting him in a costume and taking him out in the neighborhood but he refuses to wear anything. He howled until I took the ghost sheet off him. He hated the pirate's hat. Last year, I bought an elaborate pumpkin ensemble online. He nipped at me when I was buckling it on and barked non-stop until I took it off. How can I train Spooky to be more comfortable in costumes?

-Mariellen

Dear Mariellen,

The "Ask Dog Lady" mantra holds that dogs are happy nudists. And terriers are their own owners. Even in the best of times, it is hard to get a Scottish terrier to do anything he doesn't want to do. Dog Lady sympathizes with Spooky and with any dog forced to wear funny hats or garments for the sheer purpose of tickling the human funny bone.

Your dog already wears a collar, so try a neck-piece as decoration - a bow tie or an orange ribbon. This shouldn't cause him much discomfort and makes so much sense. Dogs let us know their limits. Lay off the comical hats and the highly structured costume paraphernalia. Listen to Spooky and enjoy him in all his naked glory.

Dear Dog Lady,

When my boyfriend moves into to kiss me, both of my dogs go crazy and jump on the both of us until we move apart.  I know it's not him because they have always done this. Help. I would like to kiss my boyfriend without being jumped on or barked at.

-Melissa

Dear Melissa,

Dog Lady gets a weird kick out of these queries that portray the questioner as a helpless pawn in the grip of paws. Why do you feel so paralyzed? Why can't you woman-up and take control of the situation? Put the dogs in another room. Or, if that squelches spontaneity, tell them "no" or "off" and point them away. When you know your boyfriend is due to arrive, have treats handy so you can distract your dogs and reward them for staying off you.

As you might understand, dogs do not understand kissing as we do. To them, lip locks look scary. All they know is that a large life form encroaches on the two-legged person they love most because she feeds them. In other words, they are trying to protect you. You can ease their stress by taking charge, ordering them to "sit and stay" and rewarding good behavior with treats.

After a few times of training and re-training and doing it all over again, they will learn that kissing means "off" -followed by yummies.

Dear Dog Lady,

I am the proud best friend of Mitsy who turned 18 in August. When my wife went into a nursing home, Mitsy went with me every day to visit. She has lost her sight and most of her hearing. She is actually in pretty good health with the exception of a tumor in her eye that the veterinarian doesn't want to remove as long as it's not bothering her. I am very concerned about knowing when it's time for her to take that last trip to the veterinarian's office. I had to do this once before and it was so totally devastating. I do not want to take life away from her but I don't want her to be in pain or suffering. Can you help me in this area? I had a previous Yorkie (Tootsie) that lived to a ripe age of 19. With her, it was obvious the "time" was at hand because she had a serious stroke. I am more worried about the subtle changes with Mitsy.

-Tom

Dear Tom,

Mitsy has lived a good long life and you should continue to enjoy her. As long as she's eating, sleeping and eliminating regularly, she's your dear old dog. You really shouldn't worry about how to know the end is near because you'll know. Talk to your vet about this and ask for guidance. When a dog refuses food for more than three days, the animal is in deep distress. This is a sign but there are others. Dog Lady gets tears in her eyes just thinking of this. Bottom line: Snuggle Mitsy while you can.

Dear Dog Lady,

We are looking into getting a husky/Jack Russell mix breed puppy, I have been looking everywhere for information on these cuties, could you help me out?

-Joe

Dear Joe,

Dog Lady had no trouble pulling up some information, as well as the most fetching pictures of this hard-to-imagine-mother-and-father-getting-together-in-the-first-place mixed breed just by googling "husky" and "Jack Russell." You will be charmed by what you see. When exploring on the Internet, try to find sites and rescue organizations dedicated to the husky and the Jack Russell (also called Parson Russell) and ask the breed experts questions about this unique hybrid.

Go to www.askdoglady.com to read more columns, listen to radio segments and watch episodes of "Ask Dog Lady," the TV show

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