March 9, 2013

Don't let poodle rule you

Monica Collins, Ask Dog Lady

---- — Dear Dog Lady,

We have a 7-year-old standard poodle who has recently decided it is we who should heel to her command. She pulls terribly on the leash and growls or barks as other dogs approach (even when inside if a dog passes by). When she is without us at “doggy day care” we are told she is not aggressive at all. Who made her queen? —Maude

A: You crowned the poodle by allowing her to rule you. So hold your head high and be the queen mother. The best way to get her to stop pulling is to grind to a halt immediately when she starts to haul you or growls at another dog. Become an immobile marble statue. When she looks around at you quizzically and starts to pay attention to you, seize the teachable moment. The poodle will quickly learn she’s going nowhere by pulling you.


Dear Dog Lady,

A woman at the local dog park’s shepherd-mix, Tom, was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. The veterinarian gave her the choice of either putting Tom to sleep or opting for an expensive and complicated operation to remove his front right leg. She decided in favor of the operation.

I am moved by this. At the same time, I wonder whether this will be worth the trouble and the expense. What do you think? When is enough enough? —Kevin

A: Never second-guess love. Stop trying to figure this one out. The woman at the dog park chose the option she believed was right for her and her pet. You should not question a dog keeper who believes in the boundless possibilities of a three-legged dog.


Dear Dog Lady,

When is caring for your dog too much? I have a new friend; she has a small 9-pound dog. She feeds it chicken, spends thousands on the veterinarian (the dog passes gas and she panics). She doesn’t just sleep with it but kisses it on the mouth constantly. She actually talks to it on terms of thinking there might be an actual conversation to be had. Where’s the balance here? —Dennis

A: Caring for a dog is too much when humans are excluded. Your new lady friend is on the verge of breaking your heart while drowning her dog in attention. Can you be jealous of a 9-pound gas passer? It must feel awfully foolish to ask yourself this question.

People lose themselves in passions because they don’t want to face up to the real world. Your new lady friend may be babying this dog because she lacks other emotional sustenance. Actually, caring for a critter is a whole lot healthier than many other much more destructive lonely pursuits.

Depends on how patient you are, but there may be room for you eventually. When she starts kissing the dog or trying to start an English conversation with her pet, you can make very clear you think such activity is foolish (so does Dog Lady, if it’s any comfort). Stick up for yourself with a sense of humor.

Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. To ask a question or make a comment, visit, or email her at