Ask Dog Lady
Dear Dog Lady,
Recently, I was visiting my sister in New York. We took her dog, Bongo, a small hairy mutt, out for a walk. We were on the street going to the park when we noticed an Orthodox family stop and stare at us. The kids looked scared and clung to their mother’s skirts when Bongo walked by. They visibly cringed even though my sister did her best to tell them her dog was friendly. Was their fearful reaction about the mother or the religion?
Dogs are foreign creatures in pet-less observant homes. Caring for animals is hard enough when there are so many religious demands in daily ritual, which is one theory for why many Orthodox Jews do not keep pets.
When the question about whether dogs are considered unclean was posted on a religious blog, a poster who identified himself as a rabbi interprets the Talmud: "The Talmud does say that it is forbidden to keep a pet that will scare other people, and specifically mentions a barking dog. This is but one example of the Torah’s sensitivity to other’s feelings." Perhaps the attitude toward keeping pets is more about the humans than the animals. Religious beliefs dictate people should be more tuned in to God and other people than the family dog.
Meanwhile, children can be scared of the unknown if their parents don’t take the time to educate and enlighten them. You would think on the streets of New York or any big city, the sight of dogs is common. Regardless of their religious preference, parents of any religious persuasion should instill confidence in their kids to become less frightened of the unfamiliar.
Dear Dog Lady,
I beg to differ with you. You say dogs shouldn’t be carried around in bags but I have two Pomeranians who beg to go in their bags after doing their business. I am from New York City and it is common to take dogs on the subway, buses and taxis. It is not only safer for the dogs to travel in a bag but it is comforting for them. Even though I now live in a suburb, my dogs still like to be in bags. Remember, they have a very limited view on the ground but in their bags they are the kings of the hill and can see everything. I am sure even dogs on the red carpet must feel that way.
Sure, some pets enjoy the ride but Dog Lady can’t be swayed from her belief that dogs should walk on their own four feet.
Dear Dog Lady,
I have a Brussels griffon adopted from the MSPCA in July, 2008. I was told he was between two and three-years-old. Sam is very gentle, no aggression and sticks to me or my husband, depending on who is closest or at home. About six to eight months ago, he started grinding his teeth (by the way, his teeth are few and all over the place). I researched on the Internet and tooth grinding in dogs is usually associated with pain. I printed out articles on this to show the veterinarians. He has been seen by his own doctors three times and another vet for a second opinion. They just look at me like I have no clue, which I don’t. The 24/7 grinding of teeth is terribly annoying, however. How can I determine if Sam is hurting? And how can I stop him from grinding his teeth to a nub?
You are a caring and conscientious owner. You do research, print out articles and ask questions. Your veterinarians need the same responsible attitude. They should be ashamed for treating you like you’re clueless.
Contact the MSPCA and ask for a referral to another veterinarian. You need someone who listens to you and can deal with your concerns. Dog Lady is not a vet nor does she play one on the pages of this newspaper; but she knows enough to sense this situation requires some medical intervention to ensure Sam’s choppers are in working order.
Whether his teeth-grinding is provoked by pain or anxiety, Sam needs a gnawing alternative. He might benefit from a diversion such as a Kong toy. This is a beehive-shaped rubber receptacle you can fill with peanut butter or treats and Sam can slurp on it for hours. The Kong is indestructible and every dog needs one to gnaw on instead of their own grinders.
Dear Dog Lady,
I was walking my eight-year-old terrier mix and let him off the leash so he could roll in the grass. When he was rolling belly up, I noticed (blush) he was sexually excited. I was shocked because he’s supposed to be neutered. What gives?
Neutering removes the testicles and the ability to sire a litter of pups. The "big snip-snip" does not take away your dog’s most private part and the physical sensation of pleasure. Undulating belly-up in the new summer grass is as good as it gets.