ashland.news
July 14, 2024

Ask Strider: Worried dog owners have questions

Strider with his friends. Photo by Alex Cox
June 13, 2024

Strider celebrates lucky dogs who have loved ones — human and stuffed

Dear Strider,

My dog Bella has a favorite toy that she just won’t part with. It’s a donkey we bought at Bi-Mart after we got her from the shelter. She loves that donkey. Recently we went away for a weekend and forgot to bring it, and she looked around as if she was expecting it had come with us. She gave me such a look! When we got home, the first thing she did was head straight for the donkey and go to sleep with her head on it.

Do you have any experience of this? I’m scared if something happens to the donkey, she’s going to be desolated!

Concerned Dog Toy Giver

Dear Concerned,

Wow, is this a coincidence or what? Because I got Donnie the donkey as a present, and I’m pretty sure he came from Bi-Mart.

Strider the Dog

I love Donnie. Tod’s posted a picture of him with me and my other favorite toy. You can’t really see him because I’m lying on him with my nose under Andy the Bear.

Tod tries to remember to bring one of them with us when we go places. Concerned, don’t worry. If she forgets, I might look around for them, but in the end I’m just happy to be with my pack. If when we get back there are Donnie and Andy, I’m even happier! But my happiness doesn’t depend on them.

So I bet it’s the same with Bella. She must love you for being so thoughtful, and getting her such a great toy. Her love for her donkey is a reflection of her love for you. Trust me, we dogs know the difference between loving living beings and stuffed ones. So please don’t worry you’ll do something wrong with Bella. It sounds to me like, no matter what, you’ll always be her favorite. Even more than her donkey.

P.S.: Tell Bella, Donnie and I say “hi,” would you?

Dear Strider,

I could use some advice. I have had Victor for over a year. He never barked, never wagged his tail, doesn’t respond to treats or toys. Mostly, he doesn’t acknowledge me, or even act like he recognizes me. His only (expressed) desire is to run (away) as far and as fast as he can. Or else he just wants to stay in his crate. I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s been progress, almost imperceptible, but progress nonetheless.

He was emaciated and dehydrated when we got him. He refused to leave his crate for sustenance. He decided he’d rather starve than leave his crate. (So guess who gets breakfast in bed.) Now he’s a chonk!

He was (we think) a puppy mill dog. He was “rescued” and adopted. After over a year, his rescuer returned him to the rescue system. After a year! When we found him, he was back in “foster care,” and the foster care didn’t want him either. They were in the process of handing him off to a different foster home. Evidently he wasn’t a good fit. (Not a good fit? For foster care?)

So I guess I’m not really asking a question, more like asking for support! It’s been a weird year for me, too. I’ve been recovering from one thing or another since I’ve had Victor. So up until recently, he hasn’t had me at my best.

I love him to bits. He acts indifferent, but I want to believe he likes it. 

Maybe as a fellow dog you can clue me into his feelings somehow?

— Ronan G.

Dear Ronan,

Wow. You are a super-spectacular-dog-loving person. I’m bowled over by your letter. If there were more people like you, there would be way fewer dogs who wind up like Victor.

I bet you know what I’m going to say, since it sounds like you’ve got him figured out. Victor was probably uber traumatized, first in a puppy mill, then by the people who abandoned him — twice — later. He must think he’s never going to find a safe place that’s his forever home.

Hence the crate.

I have no idea how deep Victor’s trauma goes, but I’m heartened by the fact that he’s getting plump after getting breakfast in bed! Once a dog is interested again in food, you know he’s going to get better and learn it’s safe to love someone. Food is love to us. That, and the patience you are obviously showing him, may get through to him sooner rather than later.

In the end, really, the only thing any of us living beings can do is be kind and try to love the beings nearest to us as much as we can. Loving to bits is some of the finest love there is.

You say you worry you haven’t been doing your best, but I think you sound like a miraculous kind of dog guardian. Sometimes that makes a miracle. I’m rooting for a miracle to happen for you and Victor.

Let me know how you guys do, OK?

Got a problem? No issue too big or too small, whether human or animal. Our canine advice columnist is on the job, and wants to hear from you. Email askstrider@ashland.news.

Picture of Tod

Tod

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