Dear Matthew: I enjoy your column. I am very impressed!
My husband and I have no children. Unfortunately, our previous dog, which was a black Labrador named Licorice, had a heart condition and passed away. We live in a small ranch house and are looking for any recommendations you have for what type of dog to purchase.We would prefer a small, but not hyper dog. My husband is 50 years old, I am 40, and my husband has been diagnosed with cancer. Any response would be greatly appreciated.
- Chris in Cincinnati, Ohio
Dear Chris: Sorry to hear of your husband's condition. Oftentimes, having a pet around the house can be a great source of happiness and entertainment for those with health difficulties.
As for suggestions on what kind of dog to get, a lot depends on the individual animal you pick out. While the breed does make a difference, there is still a great amount of variety from one dog to another.
Having said that, some small dog breeds you should probably avoid are Jack Russell terriers and beagles. In fact, I probably wouldn't recommend any member of the terrier family. Dachshunds, Welsh corgis and basset hounds are definitely worth a closer look.
Dear Matthew: Recently, I accidentally closed a door on my cat's tail. I felt really bad about the whole thing and wanted to make my cat feel better.
I remembered that when my cat had surgery last year, the veterinarian gave me some aspirin to give the cat to ease his pain. When I suggested that we give the cat a small bit of aspirin out of our medicine cabinet after this latest incident, my husband said it wasn't a good idea. We ended up doing nothing, and I don't think my cat has forgiven me yet. What should I have done?
- Dorothy in Huntsville, Ala.
Dear Dorothy: If you had given your cat aspirin after the accident, chances are you would have made him feel worse. When your veterinarian prescribed the drug, it was in a very small, measured dose - which you wouldn't have been able to duplicate out of your bathroom cabinet. And if you had accidentally given him Tylenol, instead, it would have killed him.
Dear Matthew: I had recently owned an Anatolian shepherd whom I loved dearly. Mayo was 6 months old and had been through a local obedience training course and completed it successfully.
My problem is that Mayo has bitten me in a very aggressive manner. When I returned him, the breeder made me feel real guilty and that it was somewhat my fault. I know this breed is not all that common and I have had a hard time finding anyone who can give me advice on him, so I did lots of research on my own.
I did learn a great deal about them and put much time, money and effort into Mayo and thought I was doing everything well with him. If not for the fact that I have a 2-year-old daughter, I would have kept him and worked with him on his aggression, but felt as if I couldn't ever trust him again, especially around her.
Did I do the right thing by giving him up? Or did I quit too soon?
- Ralph in Hicksville, N.Y.
Dear Ralph: It sounds to me like you did the right thing in giving up your dog after he began showing signs of aggression toward you. Although your dog might have become less dominant with training, there's no guarantee that an accident wouldn't happen involving your dog and your daughter.
Although I can't say for certain since I don't know all the details of your situation, it also seems like your breeder was being unnecessarily harsh on you when you returned the dog. As long as you were training your dog with love and compassion, it wasn't your fault he became aggressive on you. It could have been poor breeding or some other factor outside your control.
As for what to do now, perhaps you should consider finding a smaller, more docile breed to have around the house with your daughter. Or perhaps you should wait until your child grows a little older before bringing another pet into the house.