Press-Republican

September 8, 2012

Pet owner feels guilty for leaving pup

Ask Dog Lady
Press-Republican

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

I adopted a 1-year-old black Labrador retriever, whom I call Shadow. He’s amazing and has brought so much joy and love to my life. Since I am single and work long hours, he spends about five hours in the morning and about five more in the afternoon alone at home.

I go home during lunch break to feed him and take him out. He seems to sleep during most of the day, even on Sundays when I am home. He always seems happy and is very sweet-natured and obedient, though extremely mischievous and playful, too. But though he seems mentally and emotionally healthy, I am still consumed by guilt about whether he’s spending too much time alone. Is he? Will this process change him for worse?

— Alma

A:

The Shadow knows. Your dog sounds as if he has accommodated himself perfectly to your working life. He’s not acting out and destroying the house when you’re gone. He’s not barking and causing your neighbors to complain. He does seem emotionally healthy. Dogs close down when their humans are not home and they sleep a lot. Well-balanced canines wrap around their keepers’ working hours.

The guilt you feel is understandable, but rest assured your dog is content. Your demanding schedule has become Shadow’s snoozing schedule. This will not warp him for the worse.

If you observe any strange new quirks in his behavior, you might have cause for concern. Until then, simply stick to your routine and make sure you provide plenty of quality walking and playtime for your pet whenever you can. Also, don’t make a fuss when you leave or return. Without fanfare, Shadow will continue to be peaceful around your comings and goings.

You may be acutely aware of how many hours you spend away from your dog, but, for Shadow, the clock stands still — until you come back home to him.

Dear Dog Lady,

I love Lucy, our bloodhound, to death, except we have outside cats, and whenever she can unearth some kitty litter, she triumphantly gobbles it up. Totally grosses me out. Some friends suggested putting garlic salt in her meals. Does this help? I love garlic, myself, and never had the desire to do what she’s doing. My goody of choice is a caramel frappucchino. 

— George

A:

If you love Lucy the way you claim to, you will put down your caramel frappucchino and follow her when she’s outside sniffing up the cat leavings. Getting her to cease and desist from gobbling cat poop is as much about your efforts redirecting her, training her to stay away from the kitties’ outdoor toilet.

Eating excrement separates us from the animals. A dog will eat this stuff because she never was properly weaned from the mother who cleaned the natal nest by eating puppy poop, or a dog misses some nutrient from its diet — or Lucy grazes on feline feces because, yippee, she can. The glop is free and plentiful.

Ask your veterinarian about the nutrition part of this. Maybe Lucy needs a new dietary plan. As for the garlic salt, don’t use salts, but you can always add an occasional smidge of fresh garlic, although the redolent clove won’t immediately solve your problem. For that, you need to supervise your dear dog.

Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. To ask a question or make a comment, visit askdoglady.com.