My column about Laura of Oakland, who feared no dog could take the place of the beloved dog she lost, generated a lot of mail.
Dear Old Trainer: Buck, our 18-month old Husky, stayed in our room last winter as a puppy, but stayed outside during the summer. Now winter is here, but he still wants to stay outside. It gets cold at Dunsmuir, and snow is on the ground most of the winter, but he insists on going out at night. He has a doghouse, but I worry about him. Will he be OK staying out?
Dear Old Trainer: I lost my pug, Angie, last spring. She was my constant companion for 15 years and my life is so lonely without her. Your column brings tears to my eyes when you talk about the love dogs give us. It reminds me of her. I want another dog to love me and to love, but losing Angie hurt so much I don't know if it is fair to get another dog. I know I will compare it to her. What should I do?
Dear Old Trainer: My family has never had a dog, but my 7-year-old daughter, Laura, begs me for one every day. We have decided to adopt one, but I need advice. Is she too young to have a dog, and what breed do you recommend for young children?
Dear Old Trainer: I just adopted my first dog, Rico.
Dear Old Trainer: My 3-year old Pug, Frosty, is a dynamo, and lately has developed a strange habit. As soon as we get to the dog park he makes a mad dash across the park and around a big oak tree, then races back and stands there looking at me. He does this every time. What is going on?
Dear Old Trainer: Sam, a 9-month-old mixed breed I adopted, is smart as a whip. I use your column to teach the basics and he learns instantly. I took him to obedience school because I thought we would both learn something useful, but when anyone asked the guy running the class how to solve a problem, he always had the same answer, "put the dog in a crate." I found it insulting. Are all obedience classes that bad?
Dear Old Trainer: Bentley, my 1-year-old English sheepdog, is happy all the time but has developed a habit. Every night he comes into the living room and starts growling. He spreads his front legs and drops down and bangs his chest on the floor. He looks right at me while he is doing it.
Dear Old Trainer: I have been without a dog since I lost Alfie the Beagle 10 years ago. Your writing brought back memories of how wonderful the love of a dog can be, so I adopted Annie, a 4-year-old heeler. I pick her up in two weeks. How do I make an older dog feel at home?
Dear Old Trainer: Thank you so much for the advice on the "hold" command. Charlie, our 2-year-old mixed breed learned it like magic. It is amazing to give the command and see him stop and freeze. Any other tricks that easy to teach?
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.
Dear Old Trainer: I have a problem with my two dachshunds, Maxx, 8, and Sophie, 7. When I put their dinner down they wait until I offer them bites and then they may eat or they may ignore the food. They are not thin and they are seen by their vet regularly. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Old Trainer: We just adopted Eli, a 2-year old Doberman. He is trained and knows "sit" and "stay." His only fault is he pulls so hard on the leash when we walk it is hard to control him. Why does he do it and how do we stop him?
Dear Old Trainer: We just got Layla, a 12-week-old golden retriever puppy. The breeder told us we should wait until she is a year old to start training her. My father said that was nonsense, so we are turning to you. Who is right?
Dear Old Trainer: We just got a 6-week-old mixed breed puppy. Flaco has some Lab in him and has short hair. I was surprised to see he has a lot of fleas. Is it OK to use flea medicine on him?
Dear Old Trainer: Sharpy, our 3-year-old Shar-Pei, has always been well-behaved and obedient. She obeys most of the time, but when we are at the park, there are times when she just ignores me and does what she wants. She will look at me when I call her, but then go back to what she was doing. When she finally comes, she behaves like an angel again. What is going on?
Dear Old Trainer: My husband and I have a wonderful 6-year-old boxer named Champ. He comes in the house anytime he wants and stays in at night. I am having my first child this fall and I am worried about whether having a dog in close proximity to an infant presents a health risk. Also, does Champ need any training to learn how to deal with the baby?
Dear Old Trainer: My 2½-year-old German shepherd, Ali, is calm and gentle with our family and pets. He learned "sit" easily, and goes into his kennel on command. He behaves on walks most of the time, but sometimes, we never know when, he barks and lunges at people and dogs we meet on the walk. He weighs 85 pounds and I weigh only 120, so it is hard to control him. Your advice is always so encouraging. Please help. -- Carolyn, Irvine
MERCED I am 13 and I love dogs. I read your column every week and I have taught my Beagle, Sally, a lot of commands. I want to be a dog trainer when I grow up.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: I have a 2-year old Huskie-Beagle mix named Jesse. I love her, but she is really difficult to train. I have followed the advice in your column and we have made some progress. At times she follows orders, then she will just totally ignore me. What should I do?
Dear Old Trainer: My wife and I just rescued Sal, a one-year old female Lab, from the local shelter. I am in love with her already and I am willing to spend the time to make sure she is well trained. How long does it take and where do I start?
Dear Old Trainer: My boyfriend and I have a wonderful Samoyed, Smiley, who is 15 months old. Last winter we kept her in the house because she was just a puppy, but this winter she has a dog house and she wants to stay there every night. Lately it has been so cold that I am worried for her, but every night she insists on going out. Should we allow it?
Dear Old Trainer: Bo, my Boxer puppy, chewed up my shoe the other day. When I scolded him he acted like his paw was hurt. A few weeks ago he got his paw caught in the leash and I petted him when he held it up for me. I had no idea he remembered and that he had such acting ability. Is this unusual?
Dear Old Trainer: I have a 3-year-old German shorthaired pointer, Fritz, who is trained for quail and pheasant hunting. The trainer I hired told me to keep him locked in his 20-foot run except when I take him out to hunt. When I do, he runs wild for about 15 minutes, and then is so tired out that he can barely work and wears out in half an hour or so. What is wrong with him?
Dear Old Trainer: I want to get a family dog. I prefer one from the pound but my wife wants one that has papers. What is your opinion? -- Unsure, San Francisco
DEAR OLD TRAINER: I have a working dog that I treat as a pet and give a lot of affection.