Dear Old Trainer: I look forward to your column every week. Your love for dogs shows in everything you write. It always reminds me of my dogs and how much love they gave me. I miss my dogs every day and dream about them at night. It is hard to not have a dog, but I am 82 and I don't want to die and leave the dog alone.
-- Harvey, Las Vegas, Nevada
A: One of A. E. Houseman's greatest poems begins, "With rue my heart is laden, for golden friends I had ... " Those beautiful words describe the sadness we feel when we lose a beloved pet.
There is no reason for anyone who loves and understands dogs like you do to ever be without one, Harvey. There are too many dogs out there that need a good home. True, you may be too old to start with a puppy, but there are excellent options for you and any other senior citizen to bring the love of a dog into your life.
One option is to foster a dog for a local rescue group. You have the dog a short time, but the dog gives unconditional love and affection while it is with you.
Or you can visit your local shelter on a regular basis. All shelters need volunteers to work with lonely dogs. It is as rewarding as anything you can do. I know. I do it all the time.
It only takes a couple of days for the dogs to understand you are going to be there on a regular basis. They watch for you and shower you with love when you arrive.
The best solution is to adopt an older dog. All rescue organizations have older dogs that need a home. They are there only because their owner has died or become incapacitated.
These are wonderful dogs, full of love and already trained. They are as lonely for a human to love as you are for a dog.
One of these older dogs is perfect for any senior citizen. Contact your local shelters and explain your situation. I guarantee you will find a dog that is perfect for you.
If not, send me another email, and we will talk about what you want. I will find the perfect dog for you and fly it to you in Las Vegas.
Dear Old Trainer: War Paint, my 5-year old Aussie, is already growing her winter coat. Why is she doing it when it is still hot outside?
-- Jake, Reno, Nevada
A: Dogs do not decide when to grow their winter fur, Jake. It is in involuntary act, triggered by the changing angle of the sun. War Paint's wolf DNA monitors the days getting shorter and the sun dropping in the autumn sky and warns her to prepare for winter.
Dogs living at high altitude, where the dip of the sun to its winter path is more pronounced, get the signal in mid-summer, a reminder that winter comes early in the high country.
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org