Opinion » Editorial

Ask Dog Lady

by Julie Walker
Thursday Dec 26, 2013

By Monica Collins

There have been many stories written to "Ask Dog Lady" in the ten years since this column began. None has been identical. Animals may lack the gift of gab but they talk to us in millions of other ways. Our pets remind us of our better selves; our pets remind us to be human.

In honor of the season, "Ask Dog Lady" culled her mail and found some holiday gems ripe for recall:

Dear Dog Lady,

We like to entertain during the holiday season, but our parties seem to drive our little Yorkipoo, Prunella, nuts. Recently, when Jeff, my partner, had his office over for cocktails, Prunie vanished for the whole time. Jeff wanted to show her off and called for her constantly but she didn't budge from her hiding place. We didn't even know where she was until after everyone left. We scoured the apartment looking for her and finally found her sleeping in the back of our bedroom closet.

On New Year's Day, we plan to have a big open house and we'd love to parade our little girl for the guests. What can we do to make Prunella more sociable?

--Peter

Dear Peter,

Your Prunella is not Paris Hilton. You can bless your lucky stars for that.

Take a minute and consider festive matters from your small dog's perspective. How would you feel attending a cocktail soiree in the land of the giants? Imagine working the room through a forest of ankles. The whiffs of hors d'oeuvres would overwhelm your senses but the monster party people would only drop crumbs on your head - or, worse, step on you. These are the perils for a little Yorkipoo trying to maneuver through any human social gathering.

Don't force her to come out and make nice. Miss Prunella has sent her regrets. Let her go wherever she wants during the open house and don't be surprised if you find her in the bowels of the closet again. Before guests arrive, make sure Prunella has a soft blanket, a couple of her toys and treats in her secret hideout so she can celebrate in her own way.

Dear Dog Lady,

I read an item in a gossip magazine about a celebrity (I forget which one) who gave a dog to an ex-girlfriend as a gift. Apparently, the dog was the magic to revive the relationship.

Enough gossip, here's the question: Should I get my ex-girlfriend a puppy for Christmas? Her dog died a year ago. She went into deep mourning and our relationship turned sour soon after. We remain distantly friendly. I'd like to rekindle the romance. Would the gift of a dog re-ignite the sparks?

--Ronald

Dear Ronald,

Giving a dog to your ex-girlfriend is all about your desire to get back together with her -- not about the dog. It is terribly presumptuous to give anyone a surprise dog. Animal activist groups particularly discourage parents from giving puppies to children as Santa gifts -- unless the parents have done a whole lot of research and plan to take over care of the dog. The shelters are filled with cast-off puppies in January because, when the haze from the holidays fades, the living dog needs to be fed, walked and nurtured. The animal can't sit like an elf on a shelf.

Dear Dog Lady,

I have a three-year-old male Westie (West Highland terrier). My sister has a five-year-old male Westie. She is coming for Christmas with the dog to stay. The dogs met only once before and hated each other. Any tips to prevent bloodshed over the holiday?

--Yvonne

Dear Yvonne,

Westies, supposedly, are the only breed to recognize "another." If both dogs are neutered and socialized, they will co-exist. You and your sister will work together to monitor and to feed the dogs separately. Think the best of the dogs. For instance, they do not "hate" each other; they are merely unaccustomed to one another. Your dog will certainly be more territorial since your home is his turf.

A shared romp is the best icebreaker. Take the Westie adorable ones outside for a ramble, preferably off the leash. The outdoors offers new sniffing horizons for the animals so they won't focus on each other.

Dear Dog Lady,

So many cards have dogs on them. What's the best holiday card you've ever seen?

--Anna

Dear Anna,

The best dog holiday card still makes Dog Lady smile when she thinks of it. The front of the card shows a cartoon dog coming into the house where there's a fully-decorated tree. The dog spies the tree and a thought bubbles up: "At last, indoor plumbing!" Inside, the card wishes "everything you've ever wanted."

Please go to lexmedia.org/ondemand to see the latest "Ask Dog Lady" TV show, the holiday edition, with guests Terry Bright of Angell Animal Medical Center and Rob Van Sickle, owner of the Polka Dog Bakery.

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