June 15, 2019

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Opinion

Migrating pooch a dog-gone problem

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: This letter is in response to Bad Mother, whose dog walked off for good — to live with the neighbours.

I have spent most of my 60-plus years around dogs — showing, breeding, training owners — and, as a child, just loving them as a pet. I have personally experienced our dog leaving home and taking up residency with someone else.

We could not figure out the rationale and, as a child, I felt rejected and embarrassed that my dog left our home. Thankfully, the other home was willing to take our dog in, and he was free to visit us, if he chose.

We have also had dogs abandon their home to stay with us. It made no human sense but, for some reason, it was what the dog wanted.

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: This letter is in response to Bad Mother, whose dog walked off for good — to live with the neighbours.

I have spent most of my 60-plus years around dogs — showing, breeding, training owners — and, as a child, just loving them as a pet. I have personally experienced our dog leaving home and taking up residency with someone else.

We could not figure out the rationale and, as a child, I felt rejected and embarrassed that my dog left our home. Thankfully, the other home was willing to take our dog in, and he was free to visit us, if he chose.

We have also had dogs abandon their home to stay with us. It made no human sense but, for some reason, it was what the dog wanted.

I believe if the potential owners are open to taking the dog in, Bad Mother should be very grateful. Clearly, the dog was lonely and he found a way to better his life, rather than becoming an angry, aggressive dog instead.

It is a bit humbling to be abandoned by a dog, but licking one’s wounds, and visiting him with a treat, is the right thing to do.

In the Dog’s Best Interest, Winnipeg

 

Dear Dog’s Best Interest: I agree letting the dog stay where he or she wants to live is the best thing to do, and it’s lucky those neighbours were fine with taking him in permanently.

It’s hard to understand what all is going on in an animal’s mind, but they’re emotional beings as we are, and they suffer emotionally, too, even if they are fed and not physically abused. It’s often not enough. Some animals are much more sensitive than others and need constant company.

I recently lost my marmalade cat Finnegan to cancer, and thought my white cat, Senor Azul (Mr. Blue Eyes), would be devastated. But thinking back, I realize they never got along very well. When Finn got sick and disappeared, the white cat was not in mourning — he was overjoyed.

He started lying on his back asking for belly rubs and kissing my legs when I was typing. He was a different cat at eight years old — much happier. He wanted to play and be young again. He basked in one-on-one attention.

The dominant Mr. Finn — unbeknownst to me — made Azul into a miserable, sulky and distant cat. I thought it was just his own cranky nature. I realize now he couldn’t tell me he was being picked on, and was uptight and angry. Who knows what happened when I was away from the house? It was always clear who was dominant, but I’m now sure Azul would have gladly lived somewhere else if he’d been allowed outdoors and could have made a run for it.

I realize it’s embarrassing to have your dog walk out on you, but other dogs left their abodes to stay with you, so it all evens out.

Different pet personalities require different levels of time and care. It’s hard to know what they will be like when they are young. Breeders know better how to type the personality of puppies. For instance, my sister knew she had an alpha dog before she even took her springer spaniel Annie home. She was a leader, not a lap dog, with a tendency to watch what’s going on. She was affectionate, but not a fawner. Perfect for their lifestyle and it worked out well for everybody.

 

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I think Bad Mother and other people who are away from home most of the time should put off getting a dog until there are more people in the house. A good time is when they have a growing family and there are parents and kids and perhaps other dogs. Cats can do without attention better than dogs can. Dogs are more emotional and pack animals.

Dog Lover, Winnipeg

Dear Dog Lover: You’re probably right about dogs, although they don’t necessarily need a whole growing family around them. I’d argue that cats need love and attention, too, but are less likely to love other cats.

Dogs like other dogs for company, so a young couple might entertain having two dogs if they’re left at home during the day, or doggie daycare for a single dog, if they can afford it. Dog walkers are also growing in number as the population ages and animal lovers want part-time work. That’s a happy situation for a dog who needs to exercise and enjoy the outdoors and be with people during the workday.

Please send your questions and comments to lovecoach@hotmail.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.

 

Miss Lonelyhearts

Miss Lonelyhearts
Advice Columnist

Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.

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