Dog Lady offers advice to a man disgusted by his parents' coddling of their dog, and helps another owner struggling with puppy behavior.
Dear Dog Lady,
My parents are in their late 70s – they’re very healthy, retired and nuts where their dog Jack is concerned.
I am 55 years old and the eldest of three. A couple of years ago, I purchased a Jack Russell terrier for them as they are on a fixed income. Now, they will not go anywhere without the dog. When I visit, Jack barks nonstop and is carried around by one or both of them. The dog eats at the dining room table with all of us.
I find this disgusting and revolting, so I have not visited them in a while and they have not come to my house in almost two years. Because of this animal, our relationship has deteriorated to zero. Any words of wisdom?
As a baby boomer with aging parents, you tried to do the right thing by giving them a dog. And, unwittingly, you succeeded brilliantly.
Their dog is their fixation, much better than aching joints. But you should have done your homework before giving this breed. The Jack Russell (now called Parson Russell) terrier needs much stimulation and is a ridiculous choice for elderly people no matter how healthy they are.
Jacks thrive with constant exercise. The mandatory aerobics help these terriers work through all their issues. No wonder your parents’ dog -- cooped up and coddled -- barks all the time. The animal wants to jump out of their arms and run like the wind.
Please understand that your parents treat your canine step-sibling with indulgence. Jack’s bossy bad behavior is OK with them. And you? Hey, you got them into this crazy relationship. Lighten up. Be happy your retired parents have a kooky critter in their lives to delight and distract them.
Go visit. Offer to take their dog out for an extended romp. Challenge yourself to exhaust the dog so it sleeps under the dining room table instead of barking at the head of the table. Recover your sense of humor.
Dear Dog Lady,
We recently adopted a Phalene Papillon who is about a year old. She is very aggressive and full of energy, bites and digs into everything. She does not respond well to commands and almost never comes when called. We have sent her through obedience training and she has shown only minor improvements. Will she grow out of this? It seems to me she acts very puppy-like.
You do have a youngster. Puppyhood usually lasts about two years. Your Papillon is full of piss, vinegar, antics and enough energy to light up a small city. She certainly will calm down eventually. Until then, you must train her and let her know what is appropriate and what is not.
Don’t expect by sending your dog off to training that the dog will return instantly well-trained. The best lessons come out of the bond between a dog and its keeper. You are the key to good behavior -- your demeanor, walking with your pup, and your lessons to sit, stay, lie down and on and on to a good dog life.
Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her Web site is www.askdoglady.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.