Ask Dog Lady

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Wednesday May 1, 2013

by Monica Collins

Dear Dog Lady,

I read a posting on the "Ask Dog Lady" Facebook page that after the Boston Marathon bombings, many Bostonians kindly offered up their blow-up beds and pull-out couches to help stranded runners who needed a place to stay. One kind-hearted guy even offered a "fuzzy dog to pet." Seems like a brilliant incentive and cure-all. Do you know if he had any takers?


Dear Daphne,

After a frightful bloody day at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, no stranded runners stayed behind to pet the fuzzy dog, a rescue mutt named Rufus, according to a blog on Slate, the online magazine ( Still, the Cambridge software engineer who posted the offering said he was glad he made the gesture. Other posters promised to provide a swab of pet love for marooned marathoners. These generous Boston strong advertised free accommodations with "’a loving bunny,’ ’a gentle black Lab named Bettie,’ and ’a cuddly cat to love you.’ Some apologized in advance to anyone with allergies." The famed "comfort dogs" of the Lutheran church-golden retrievers with good hearts and sweet souls-also traveled with their Chicago keepers to Boston to provide solace. The dogs hung out in the Back Bay as Boylston Street reopened. Their presence made everyone feel better.

Dear Dog Lady,

I am employed by a geese control company; we are hired by clients to rid their properties of Canadian geese. We accomplish this with trained Border collies, a humane method endorsed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Previously, we had purchased expensive dogs from trainers. After years on the job, I had enough seniority to convince the boss to acquire a young Border collie rescue dog, properly vetted by the rescue organization. We needed one with the high drive that could live in a suburban situation. These dogs have a great Border collie life. They work all day, quickly rinse in the dog tub the boss installed at his home and lounge with the family.

After several months, home visits and interviews, we received Jim, a two year old male. I took the responsibility of training him. In six weeks, he is chasing birds and learning the ropes. This is where I have a difference in training for the "recall," which is so important when working out in the field. I prefer to wait to blow the whistle until Jim is receptive, when his nose is not deep in a clump of grass or smelling the deliciousness of another dog or critter. Another trainer prefers to just use the whistle arbitrarily and Jim ignores most of the tweets until one chirp eventually "hooks a synapse" and he recalls. For his safety, recall must be immediate. But which is the better way to train?


Dear Rebecca,

Your method sounds as if it is the most organized. However, the scheme requires you to pay strict attention to the dog’s doings out the field. That’s not always easy to do outdoors. You want the dog to pay attention to the whistle above all whether his nose is stuck in a grass clump or not. You would be wise to consult a certified dog trainer about this. Dog Lady is an amateur expert. In Dog Lady’s world, a dog that comes when called is a good dog-and sometimes you have to call ten times before the synapse kicks in. Our companion animals have different priorities than the intense Border collies out on the goose field.

Congratulations to you for suggesting the services of a rescue Border collie to your boss. Very smart and humane of your company to give the work to a herding dog in need of a job.

Dear Dog Lady,

We have a Shetland sheepdog. I have bought everything and tried everything and he still barks at everything! Is there anything I can do to stop this annoying behavior? He’s very smart, but this is really hard on our family. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.


Dear Connie,

No, you haven’t tried everything. Everything requires you give the dog much more exercise than you probably do; everything means you offer plenty of healthy distractions. Your pet comes from a working breed of dogs with jobs. If you can’t give him a bunch of sheep to herd then you must find something so the Shetland sheepdog works through its boredom issues. You must think of creative ways to engage your pet-agility course, work, exercise and more exercise. When a dog barks at everything, the animal is in a state of confusion and chaos. Soothe the savage beast by providing an active lifestyle.

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