Ask Dog Lady—Winter 2014/15

Ask Dog Lady
Ask Dog Lady—Winter 2014/15
Bothered and bewildered? Crazed and confused? If your doggie dilemma has you down in the dumps…


Dear Dog Lady,
With everything going on in the world from beheadings to global warming, I have been a pessimistic mess. I despair for the world. I want to crawl under the bed and stay there. My friends and relatives think I take the scope of world tragedies very emotionally. They offer the bromide that life goes on because the alternative is just too horrible. I’m gay and without a partner at the moment. My loneliness certainly adds to my feelings of doom.

You must wonder why I am writing you. Seems the one hopeful impulse I have at the moment is to adopt a dog. Do you think a dog might be the cure for what ails me? Do you have any advice about what kind of dog?—Brandy, Santa Rosa, CA

A: You want a dog, get a dog. However, make sure you are adopting a dog for all the right reasons, instead of grabbing for the first warm-fuzzy that comes along. Dogs are flesh and blood. They are not panaceas. They require much time and work but they give back so much joy.

A dog is a great gift of life and hope. Dogs teach us lessons about taking one day at a time, putting the past behind, enjoying the moment. Dog Lady believes humans thrive with a pet under the same roof (she’s living proof). Also, a dog introduces you to a whole new social set. Who knows? Your dog might lead you to the human of your dreams.

Dog Lady endorses adopting a shelter dog because orphan dogs need homes in this crazy world. Go to your local shelter and sniff around. Visit the dogs available for adoption. You might strike up a great relationship.

Dear Dog Lady,
Whenever I see a news story about a catastrophe—a bad car accident, a house or apartment fire, a tornado or storm—I always wonder if animals have been hurt or died. Often the reporters don’t say although occasionally their closing comments may have something to do with injured or saved pets. In news stories, why can’t animals have the same consideration as people? For example, a recent tragic story about a reckless driver who killed a woman out jogging with her dog did not include the news about the fate of the dog. Why is this?—Miranda, Montreal, QC

A: Like it or not, animals do not receive the same level of regard as humans. A reporter and his or her editor will decide whether or not to include news about an animal’s demise, particularly if the story is about human tragedy. While the omission of an animal’s fate can be frustrating, you will admit that animals are prominently featured in the news when the story’s about them. The “Puppy Doe” case of a dog torturer roiled the public consciousness about humane treatment of animals. That Quincy, MA man has been charged with that heinous animal cruelty and remains in custody (he also was charged with larceny against a human).

Of course, we all love the triumphant animal survival stories. A recent tearjerker involved an elderly Labrador Retriever named Lady who walked 30 miles to be with her Kansas family, who then took her back to the animal shelter they had dumped her at in the first place. After reading of Lady’s plight on Facebook, Helen Rich Rosburg, the heiress to the Wrigley gum fortune, sent a private plane for the black Lab. Lady now lives in Florida as one of Rosburg’s personal pets.

Dear Dog Lady,
I was a huge Pope Francis fan until I read that he chided married couples for having pets instead of children. Some people can’t have children for very complicated and personal reasons. I imagined the Pope would be more forgiving about this since he seems to have a compassionate nature. What’s your reading of the Pope’s remarks?—Terry, Naples, FL

A: Pope Francis, God bless him, is not afraid of stirring the pot of public interest. In that same statement made last June before a small group of married couples at the Vatican, the Pope also said people risk “the bitterness of loneliness” by having pets instead of kids. He could have been trying to drum up business by advocating for bigger families and more kids but regardless this pet pronouncement seems like curious dogma.

Interestingly, the Pope’s namesake, St. Francis—the saint who inspired Pope Francis to take the name for his own—is known in the Catholic church as the patron saint of animals. St. Francis was an environmentalist who preached about the sanctity of life in all its manifest forms. One legend associated with St. Francis tells of how he urged angry townspeople to make friends with the marauding wolf rather than kill the beast.

Often, in this column, we address issues of dogs and kids; “Ask Dog Lady” makes clear again and again: a dog is not a “fur baby.” But what the Pope overlooked in his remarks was an appropriate acknowledgement about the strong connection we can have with animals and the myriad benefits they bestow. Pets teach us about love.

Dear Dog Lady,
I recently moved into the city from the suburbs. I’m still getting used to the dog culture in my neighbourhood. On the one hand, I like to see a lot of dogs on the streets because it makes me feel safer. On the other hand, I don’t like to see so many dogs relieving themselves on the granite cornerstone of my townhouse. The stone always drips with dog pee. Makes me nuts. How do I deal with this, other than becoming the local grouch and shooing away dogs 24/7?—Lucy, Boston, MA

A: You could post a cute sign on the stone urging dogs to move on. They can’t read English but their owners might get the message.

Your cornerstone has become a pee-mail posting site and there’s likely little you can do about this. You can, however, try to take away the odours that compel canines to leave their marking. A solution might be Simple Solution, a product available in many pet stores that not only cleans dog drippings from hard surfaces but removes the smell. n

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