DEAR OLD TRAINER: Betsy, our 5-year old Beagle/Schnauzer mix looks heartbroken when we leave the house. We work long hours and I feel bad leaving her alone that long. We are thinking of getting a second dog to keep her company. Will that keep her from being lonely?
Neva and Ryan, San Jose, Calif.
A: Yes. Canines are pack animals and the bigger the pack, the happier the dog. You are right when you say Betsy is the saddest dog in the world when you leave. You are the only thing in the world that matters to her.
She will get several benefits if you add another dog. For one, a canine companion will give her company and a sense of security while you are gone.
For another — more exercise. It’s hard for any working owner to give a dog enough exercise and Betsy will burn more energy in five minutes playing with a second dog than she does walking a mile on a leash.
Adding a second dog doubles your enjoyment — few things are more fun than watching your dogs play and seeing the endless games they invent to get your attention — but your work load only increases one percent. That’s because the old dog shows the new arrival the ropes, shows her how to behave. A new dog picks up the commands as you give them to Betsy. All you do is make sure she has them correct.
When it comes to dogs, I agree with Texas blues man and guitar whiz Robert Earl Keen, who said, “A man needs all the dogs and all the guitars he can get.” I have two guitars, but I have eight dogs. I could get by with just one guitar, but I can’t make it with just one dog.
Of course, dogs are master manipulators so when you add a second dog they will both look heartbroken when you leave, but you can always add a third dog.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: We have Tank, a 3-year old English Bulldog, we just adopted. We like to take him with us when we run errands, but it’s hot here from May to November. What are the guidelines for taking a dog in the car when it’s hot?
Jessica, Denton, Texas
A: There is only one rule for taking a dog in the car in the summertime — don’t do it. No dog can survive in a hot car in North Texas, and Bulldogs are more susceptible to heat than most breeds.
Some people claim it’s fine to take a dog in a car in the heat if you are going to be in the car and you have a good air conditioner, but your dog is still in danger. What if the air conditioner fails? What if the motor dies? What if you have a fender bender on the freeway and wait an hour for a tow truck? All those things are possible, and in each case it can cost the life of your dog.
And don’t ever leave a dog alone in the car with the air condition running in summer heat. The temperature in a car parked in the sun will be hotter than the temperature outside in three minutes if the engine dies.
Don’t take a chance. Tell Tank he can go on trips when winter comes back to town.
A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.