Dear Dog lady,
Is it ever okay to feed a dog cat food? I am a pet sitter and I have a
client who has an Italian Greyhound who lives with two cats. He feeds
them all the same food, Purina One cat food!

I’m guessing it’s
probably not nutritionally sound for the dog but I don’t want to
approach my client about it unless I have sound facts. I’d love to hear
your input on this subject. This little dog’s health may depend on it!
-Karen, Williamsport, PA

Karen, no, no, no. This lazy client
wants two for the price of Purina One. He could be harming his Italian
Greyhound. Tell him to cease and desist. Cat kibble is denser than dog
food because it has more protein and calories. Cats are carnivores.
They eat meat exclusively. Dogs are omnivores. They need a varied diet,
with some grains and vegetables. The food metabolizes differently in
each species’ system. Dogs gain a lot of weight if they eat cat food
all the time. It might not hurt for a couple of meals (although it may
cause diarrhea), but a steady diet of cat chow is killing. Please
encourage your client to pay the extra money and buy dog food. Thanks
for bringing this canine culinary crime to Dog Lady’s attention.

Dear Dog Lady,
There’s a soap opera at my dog park. It all started when a newly
divorced woman with her big shaggy dog began hanging out with a married
man and his Vizsla. His wife goes to work early so he’s the one who
walks the dog. My Lulu, a mutt mix, loves playing with their dogs. But
the newly divorced woman and married man have started being
exclusionary. They don’t hang with everybody anymore and go off
together with their dogs. They can be seen walking around the space
where our group meets. They talk only to each other. They throw each
other looks. One morning, Lulu and I tried to walk with them and, by
the awkward silence, I understood I wasn’t welcome. Their dogs and Lulu
still jump around as usual. Lulu streaks after the two dogs whenever
she sees them. I always have to chase her and bring her back to the
group because the woman and man want to be left alone, I think.

Help. What should say I to these two? I want my dog to play with their
dogs without worrying I’m interrupting something. Everybody in the dog
group gossips about this and we all wonder what’s up.
-Maura, New York, NY

Maura, any communication with this dog
park duo must be casual, friendly, and within the confines of the usual
chirpy canine-lingua. How about, ‚ "Hey guys, mind if my dog runs with
your pack? They can’t possibly object and, if they treat you like a
third wheel, it’s their problem, not yours.

Dog Lady understands
why tongues wag. This couple isn’t being very sociably smart at a
sanctuary of fun and frolic for dogs. And, remember, where there are
smoky glances, there’s usually fire. They are the ones to worry about
all this and what it means for them. Their dogs don’t care. The animals
merely enjoy the innocent frolic. And you are just a bowser-besotted
observer of human misbehaviour. Eventually, the truth will be revealed.

Dear Dog Lady,
I’ve got a problem with a neighbour who seems to think that I’m not
doing my duty picking up after my pup. On more than a few occasions,
I’ve noticed this woman standing at her front door as my dog, Blue, and
I have approached her house. I thought maybe it was just coincidence,
but yesterday as Blue and I were standing across the street from her
house, I heard a male voice call out accusingly, "I hope you have
something to pick up after your dog." I turned and saw a younger guy
(probably her son) poking his head out the front door. I indignantly
replied, "Of course!" He replied ‚ "Good." I was more than a little
offended and had to resist the urge to stop by the house at the end of
our walk to show them the evidence I carried.

Blue does
tend to sniff around a lot near this woman’s house because she lives at
the end of a dead end street where lots of garbage, leaves and dead
critters build up against the fence, presenting all sorts of
intoxicating aromas. Should I try to set the record straight or am I
better off just ignoring this woman? My concern is that she’s going to
tell her tales to other neighbours and Blue and I are going to get a
bad reputation.
-Spike, Denver, CO

Spike, don’t ignore her. Pretend you’re a
mutt missionary and you must convert her. The next time you spy this
woman, remark on the lovely spring weather and say something chatty to
the effect: "Blue and I wish everybody did their part to clean up."
Maybe she needs to vent, which your entree will allow her. Everybody
does not like dogs and some dog people can be so reckless by leaving
stuff behind for others to step in. You should be a shining example of
good breeding, a doggie diplomat beyond reproach. Be nice to her so she
will have no choice but return the favour.

Dear Dog Lady,
I have an issue with an older woman. Actually everyone in the
neighbourhood with a dog has had the same issue with her. She has a
beautiful yard with hedges all around the outside. The problem is that
she thinks the sidewalk and the grass on the far side of the sidewalk
are also her property. One day, as we were walking past her house, my
dog sniffed in the gutter. Suddenly, I heard banging on the window and
turned to see the woman shooing me away. I just looked at her and
mouthed, "What?" I decided I’m going to tell her I understand she wants
a nice yard, and I actually appreciate that. But shooing people off the
public sidewalk is inappropriate. While she is responsible for
maintaining the sidewalk, it isn’t actually her property. I want to
tell her she really ought to be nicer to the people who walk dogs in
the neighbourhood since none of us reported her for not shoveling her
sidewalk this winter forcing kids on their way to school to walk in the
street. What do you think of this?
-David, Boston, MA

David, sigh. Dog Lady wonders if there are
too many cranky folks out there with nothing better to do than stare
out the window and yell at people for imaginary transgressions. Give
this woman a break. She’s property proud and maybe she’s lonely. It
won’t kill you or your dog to skirt her sidewalk. And if she yells
because your dog sniffs in her gutter, smile and move on. Life is too
short to plot the comeuppance of nit-picky neighbours.

Dear Dog Lady,
I’ve been with my current boyfriend for six years, and we’ve lived
together for two. At my parents’ house, I have a wonderful black Lab
named Buddy. I know Buddy is happier at home with the other dogs than
he ever would be in the city with me, but I would like to get another

My concern is how to convince my boyfriend this is
a good idea. I was born and raised a dog lover, but he was not. He
thinks our apartment is too small and we don’t have enough time. But
Dog Lady, I don’t want a Mastiff, just a small to mid-size dog. And Dog
Lady, I’ve taken care of dogs my whole life; I would never dare to
neglect a walk, a belly rub, or a chew toy. How can I convince him this
is a good idea for both of us?
-Maria, Toronto, ON

Maria, there are deceptive ways to
persuade your squeeze, a non-dog person, to allow you to get a pet but
Dog Lady declines to spell them out. Your boyfriend has the freedom to
say "no," you have the freedom to say "yes." You must do what is right
for you, an unmarried woman.

If you truly cannot live without
canine companionship, inform him of your decision, and hope he comes
around once the dog is ensconced. You must be prepared to do all the
work and have faith the relationship will endure‚ or not.

to convince your boyfriend to suffer a dog in a tiny space will never
be productive. He might always feel beleaguered by the inconvenience.
For now, with this guy, in this matchbox apartment, you have to reckon
with reality: the time may not be right to add a dog. If you continue
to ache for canine joys, volunteer at your local animal shelter. And
bring your boyfriend. The experience might be a heart-warmer for both
of you.

Dear Dog Lady,
One morning, after my West Highland Terrier completed his bathroom
duties, I rewarded him with a dog treat and praised him. I sat down to
my breakfast and proceeded to eat my usual toast and coffee. My Westie
appeared and begged for some toast with butter. I told him "no" because
he had already gotten a dog treat. He then left, came back, and tossed
the dog treat at my feet, letting me know he did not eat it and
preferred toast instead. These little guys learn our human ways so
quickly. I was most amused and rewarded him with a couple of pieces of
-Gizella, Cleveland, OH

Gizella, your darling Westie turned
you to toast by showing off his breathtaking terrier cuteness and
cunning. Dog Lady will not rebuke you for indulging him. When our dogs
perform brilliant stunts like this, they earn our laughter and eternal
respect. In the future, simply cut back on the jam and butter.

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