Ask Dog Lady—Summer 2015
Bothered and bewildered? Crazed and confused? If your doggie dilemma has you down in the dumps…
Dear Dog Lady,
When my ex-husband moved out, he took the dog Sandy, a scruffy terrier mix of indeterminate lineage with long legs, sorrowful eyes, and a sweet gentle personality. He had brought Sandy into the marriage 11 years ago when she was a puppy and he took her away when she was the best part of our fractured family. I can’t stop crying. He says I can come to visit Sandy and take her for a walk. But I don’t want to be reliant on my ex for anything. How do I get over this? —Miss the Dog Madly, Cambridge, MA
A: Swallow your pride and visit Sandy at your ex-husband’s residence. What’s the harm? The dog will be happy and so will you—more and more as you get your two feet on the ground. No divorce is easy but your feelings for Sandy are pure and simple. These emotions always win in the end. Honest feelings shouldn’t be sullied by whatever antipathy you feel toward your ex-husband. Sandy is the best part of him.
You now have a paw print on your back. You are a marked woman who should definitely start looking for a dog of your own. You have no excuses. This is an optimum situation for bringing a pet into your home. You are dog-less, spouse-less, and ready to start over.
Dear Dog Lady,
I have a pedigreed longhaired Dachshund named Autumn. I intend to breed her when my male Dachshund, Kazi, is of suitable age. The problem is that my fiancé, who lives with us, has Max, an intact 45-pound male dog of unknown breed.
Every time Autumn is in season, we must confine her to a bedroom to keep Max from getting to her. She is miserable because she is confined. Max is miserable for the obvious reasons. I have begged my fiancé to get Max altered for everyone’s sanity, especially Max’s, but he always comes up with an excuse. He says that he wants to have “Max puppies” someday, or he comments on “doing that” to him. There are so many wonderful mixed breed dogs in shelters. I have tried to explain this to my fiancé to discourage him from wanting “Max puppies.”
I have also explained that it is kind to alter Max rather than allowing him to be miserable every time Autumn is in season. I have offered to pay for it myself. Is there any advice that you can give? Am I being unreasonable to ask him to have Max altered?—Linda, Providence, RI
A: It sounds like everyone in your household needs fixing. Your fiancé is not wrong to be rankled by your constant prodding to have his dog altered while your dogs continue to hold onto their private parts. This situation understandably rankles your guy. Why shouldn’t he demand “Max puppies?”
Dog Lady believes in dog castration—all ages, all stages, all breeds, all mutts must be spayed or neutered. Such is the only conscientious course, considering the horrors of pet overpopulation. Men can be weird about the “big snip-snip,” but, in this environment, your fiancé has every right to stick up for Max’s manhood. When you live by your own good example with your own dogs, you will have the moral authority to demand he get his dog neutered.
Dear Dog Lady,
I am in a new relationship with a man I adore. The only problem is his dog, Chopper, who’s “in control.” The dog barks constantly, jumps in people’s laps (not a lap-size dog) and sleeps smack in the middle of us in the bed. We can’t even be affectionate because of the dog blocking us. I don’t mind the dog being in the bed, but I think he needs to be at the end of the bed. I just can’t handle a dog conditioned to do what he pleases. How do I handle this situation?—Claire, Toronto, ON
A: Tackle this block through the man you “adore.” Your man has all the control with Chopper. You should understand the relationship between him and his pet is strong and enduring. This should give you hope because any guy who loves a dog has a lot of love to give. But this man may also be using the dog as an excuse to prevent a woman from entry in to his home and heart. Whatever you do or say, please maintain your sense of humour and composure. You should not become so attached to a Chopper-less outcome that you forget you can still walk away.
You might begin the conversation simply by suggesting Chopper be trained to sleep in his own dog bed. This seems reasonable enough. See how the man you adore responds to this modest proposal. If he reacts negatively or defensively, you have insight into his character and his ability to forge a relationship with you. If he’s open to your suggestion, the departure point may lead to a general conversation about the dog’s behaviour. An honest conversation between two people usually results in a feeling of drawing closer. Let’s hope this is the happy result.
Dear Dog Lady,
Because his ex-wife gave him the dog, I suddenly found myself as step-human to my live-in boyfriend’s 11-year-old stubborn Dachshund. The dog loves my boyfriend very deeply and that seems to be the problem. She doesn’t listen to me at all. It’s clear she sees herself as next in line after my boyfriend. She won’t leave me alone while I’m eating. If I’m in the kitchen cooking, I have a furry Dachshund ankle bracelet. She’s destroyed 12 pair of underwear and the contents of my purse. When the two of us are alone, she barks at everything.
She no longer sits on the couch or sleeps in our bed. But I still fight for my food and hide all my belongings so she doesn’t destroy them. I feel like an outsider when I’m in my own house. Everything she does annoys me. My boyfriend tries to help and he takes my side more than hers, but it’s starting to cause problems in our relationship.—Angie, Seattle, WA
A: Surely you must think the “stubborn Dachshund” is cute occasionally. A sense of humour is so important when dealing with a dog.
Please don’t take anything personally or ascribe evil human thinking to the dog. Pick up your stuff. Leave nothing for this dippy Dachshund to nibble. Most importantly: have confidence. Be your own woman. Basically, ignore the hot dog. Don’t try to win her affection. Don’t bend to what you perceive as her wishes. You have to live with her so just do what you have to do. You’ve already won the battle of the bedroom. Now, you must set more boundaries. And how about taking her for a walk outside the house? Surely, this shared activity will start to set the bond between you two.
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