Ask Dog Lady

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Ask Dog Lady
If your doggie dilemma has you down in the dumps…

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Dear Dog Lady,
My partner and I like to entertain but our parties seem to drive our Yorkipoo, Prunella, nuts. Recently, when Jeff had his office colleagues 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. Early in June, 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, Boston, MA

Peter, take a minute and consider festive matters from petite Prunella's perspective. How would you feel attending a cocktail soiree in the Land of the Giants? Imagine trying to work the room when you can't see 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 Yorkipoo trying to maneuver through any human social gathering.

Prunella is no Paris Hilton. She has sent her regrets. Don't force her to come out and make nice. Let her go wherever she wants during the open house and don't be surprised if you find her in the back of the closet again. Before guests arrive, trick out her sanctuary. Make sure Prunella has a soft blanket and a couple of her toys and treats so she can have her own party in peace.

Dear Dog Lady,
I am from the New York City area and am wondering if you have heard of any services that would allow me to "rent" a dog for the day? Specifically I would like to hire a certain breed of dog for the day, meaning he/she would be dropped off in the morning and then picked up at night. I would provide food, walking, etc. for the dog. -Sara, New York, NY

Sara, allow Dog Lady to make sense of this. You seek a dog delivered to you with a full tank and low mileage? Sounds like a rental car on four legs. Dog Lady has read of a dog-for-hire business in Tokyo, but the service seems too creepy to contemplate except on waggish Internet blogs. However, just by asking the question, you might have unleashed the shady entrepreneurs eager to make a buck with a Bowser leasing venture.

If you really want to test drive a canine, go to your local animal shelter. The shelter orphans need exercise and attention so the staff might let you walk a dog for an afternoon. Of course, there are no amenities. You wouldn't be able to specify a breed and the shelter workers have no time to drop off or pick up the dog. You would have to do all the work, which might cause you to realize that a high-end rent-a-Rover scheme is an inhumane notion.

Dear Dog Lady,
I have two Tibetan Terriers, Duncan and Robert. They get along very well, but Duncan has always been the dominant dog. Now, I'm beginning to think Robert would like to renegotiate the terms of their relationship.Lately, Robert has been giving Duncan some lip. Last night, Robert refused to give up a treat that Duncan wanted-a first-and Duncan consoled himself by chewing and partially consuming Elizabeth Edwards's new book, Saving Grace. Any thoughts on this? Do dominant dogs ever convert to Number Two? -Mary Anne, Washington, DC

Mary Anne, dominant Alpha dogs can convert to Number Two when they cede their territory. As Robert refused to give up his treat and Duncan decided not to fight him for it, their own deal was silently struck. Robert, MuttBeth, became the Thane of Cawdor.

Expect them to continue to joust back-and-forth for the title. There are likely to be other shredded losses in these skirmishes unless you hide all consolation prizes from Tibetan Terrier-eye-view.

Dear Dog Lady,
I recently saw Nathan Lane, the Broadway star, on Martha Stewart's talk show and Lane said this about his French Bulldog: "She is constantly licking. Licking the furniture, licking me, licking herself. You want to just say, ‘You've got the job, calm down.' She is like a little hooker." I memorized this line because it offended me. I wondered whether Lane's dog was sick. My dog licked everything, too, and it never occurred to me that she was "like a little hooker." I thought she was being too obsessive and needed to see the vet. Why must these show business people turn everything into a funny story? -John, Philadelphia, PA

John, thanks for this detailed review of Lane's performance. Pets generate good showbiz anecdotes and Lane made whoopee of his dog's antic licks. Stewart, the legendary control freak and dog maven, should have suggested that Lane bring his Frenchie to the vet to rule out any pathological cause for the licking. Yet, such an admonition would have ruined the giddy moment. Thank heavens there are astute viewers like you to fill in the blanks. Lots of licking can certainly signal a problem, which is usually solved with behaviour training or medication to ease compulsions-but that's not a funny story.

Dear Dog Lady,
I really want to meet a nice guy and fall in love. That's kind of like saying, ‘I'm going to climb Mt. Everest with one hand tied behind my back,' because I'm 55 with wrinkles on my face and in my past, but I'm hopeful. I've been browsing the online personals and saw a picture of a man whose looks intrigue me, but whose Scottie dog repels me. Since childhood, I've been afraid of small snarly dogs, but this guy must be proud of his dog because he poses with it on Match.com. I do like dogs but I don't like the looks of this one. Should this prevent me from writing to the man? -Martha, San Francisco, CA

Martha, my dear, of all the impediments to a relationship, a guy's Scottie should be the least of it. You haven't even met this man yet. He's still a fantasy figure, so you have nothing to worry about. Go ahead and send him an email. Don't even mention the dog nipping at your romantic heels. Also, answer many other ads. The personals are a numbers game. The more you respond, the more chances of connecting. The best way to compete is not to fixate on a single shaggy aspect of one prospect but to strive for bulk volume. You've got miles to go before a terrier stands between you and your admirable goal of falling in love. And, who knows? You just might fall for a guy with a Scottie.

Dear Dog Lady,
I recently got laid off from my job, which means I'm home all the time with Lulu, my Labradoodle. This is a great comfort for me as I chart a new career course. I've set up a home office and am outfitting it with all the things I'll need to run a business. Do you have any suggestions about what kind of supplies I should stock for Lulu, my office assistant? -Ray, Vancouver, BC

Ray, bully sticks, squeaky toys, Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, and tennis balls should perk up any canine administrative assistant. Lulu is the ideal candidate to take a meeting, run it up the flagpole, and be the brainy Dogbert in your own cubicle culture.

But heed this serious warning: Keep your paper shredder in a place where Lulu will never find it. Recently, there have been terrible reports of dogs whose tongues were mangled in shredders after the curious animals licked the appliances. Veterinary surgeons could do little to help save the tongues and the pets were euthanized. Dog Lady doesn't mean to be Debby Downer, but she never could have imagined this traumatic situation until reading about it with horror. Be a responsible manager with your staffer. Take pains to ensure you have dog-proofed your home office as thoroughly as possible.

Dear Dog Lady,
I have a nine-month-old male puppy, a West Highland White Terrier, and I am having trouble with him jumping up and barking at the TV when it is on. I have tried getting up and telling him "no bark," distracting him with a toy, and spraying him with a water bottle. None of these is working. He seems to really go crazy when another animal is on the screen. Do you have any suggestions for me? -Grace, Orlando, FL

Grace, many dogs-mostly terriers-bark wildly at TV animals and lunge at the set. Presumably, this trend has only increased as huge plasma and LCD flat screens have invaded our living rooms, providing high-def clarity to images. Our sweet pets have every right to try and protect us from the looming doggie ex machina.

You can keep trying to educate your Westie not to leap at the TV, but, eventually, he will train himself after many failed attempts to invade Animal Planet. When he hits the wall enough to knock some sense into him, the jumping and barking should diminish. Also, snuggle up with your ditsy darling when you watch TV. Your calm and comforting presence might dissuade him from hurling himself at the glass menagerie. ■

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