Ask Dog Lady
Dear Dog Lady,
I have a fantastic rescue dog, Haley, who lives with me and my family. I speak only Chinese to my parents and aunt in my household. Haley must know Chinese, too. When she meets dogs at the dog park or the street she can become scared or aggressive. I have to stay right with her and try to keep her under control because she barks, growls or wants to hide behind me. But if the dogs are also from Chinese-speaking homes (and I ask), my dog is relaxed. She plays, sniffs freely, and runs around. Does this make sense?
Haley must detect a cultural kinship with other dogs accustomed to life in Chinese-speaking homes. Presumably, you and the other owners do not converse in Chinese out in the dog park or on the street. So Haley picks up the vibes from her four-legged kin. The only explanation is animal instinct, which is really the magic (Chinese: "moshu") of dogs. They are incredibly sentient creatures with Buddha-like reserves of wisdom, knowledge and mystery.
Occasionally, when Haley is comfortable with another dog and you pop the Chinese question, the owner might tell you Mandarin plays no part in the household. This is your opportunity for a teachable moment. Reward Haley for being calm with another dog that has no Asian inclination.
Dear Dog Lady,
In my small suburban neighborhood, there are now three female blonde Labrador retrievers named Piper, including my own. I once thought the name was as special as my dog. But it’s become a cliché. I would like to rename Piper to make her unique again. What name would you suggest?
Oh, you can rename her anything you want. But why would you want to? When you gave Piper the name, you thought it was a special moniker until the other Pipers moved in. You don’t accuse them of being copycats but let’s assume they saw you out with your Piper and thought the name was the perfect fit. How about this solution? Attach the name "Pied" in front of "Piper" and call your darling "Pied Piper" because other blonde Labs follow her.
Dear Dog Lady,
I just purchased a new memory foam bed from a catalogue for Niko, my poodle puppy, but he keeps digging into it or biting it. What can I do to make him stop before he destroys it? He’s a year and three months-old.
Put the pricey bed away until Niko is old enough to handle such luxuries. Don’t worry about his comfort because puppy ease is all about plopping in the nearest pile of mud. He won’t know what he is missing. Throw an old blanket in a corner of whatever room you want Niko to hang out. Make sure the blanket is ratty enough so you won’t care if the poodle mashes and mangles the throw. Go to your nearest dog mart and buy lots of healthy gnawable things-indestructible toys such as Kongs and bully sticks are goodˆo he has many appropriate items to grind through. At a year-plus, Niko remains a puppy with deep primal chewing and teething needs. Make sure you give him many healthy opportunities to chomp.
Dear Dog Lady,
I have a cat named Jonnie from the time she was a kitten. She wakes me up during the night if she senses my low blood sugar. What is the cat sensing or smelling to want to wake me up?
You just said it yourself-low blood sugar. How do cats and dogs smell these alterations in our physical chemistry? Changes in breathing, essence, skin, odor. Alchemy. Seriously, dogs (we’ll get to cats in a minute) have been trained to sniff cancer. A researcher in Japan says dogs can predict colon cancer with more precision than a colonoscopy, the medical test. Some pet owners get spooked when their dog stares at them. They imagine the animal sniffs disease. While that could be the case, what the creature detects are probably changes in aura to give the animal pause
There are stories of dogs used for emotional therapy for victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. Dogs wake families to warn of fire. Cats have a preternatural sense of smell and timing. Our pets save lives in a myriad of ways. If you question such things, some naysayer will inevitably call you nutty or loopy for imagining things. However you explain it, you’re not fantasizing your dog’s ability to sniff out situations - medical or otherwise.
If this is the bond you have with your pet, enjoy the attention and be grateful a creature cares about you enough to wake you if she senses trouble.
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