By STEVE DALE
Tribune Media Services
I answer your pet questions every week, but you ought to have your turn, as well. Today, I offer some of your comments on recent columns and my responses.
YOUR TURN: A friend was staying in my home who was familiar with my 11-year-old dog, Duke. At bedtime, she went over to where Duke was sleeping on the couch, bent over and gently touched him to get him to go to another room for the night. He was startled and snapped at her. He didn't bite her; just grazed her. When I was sure she was OK, I asked her if she'd ever heard the saying, "Let sleeping dogs lie." She got the point.
The very next week, I wasn't thinking, did the same thing, and Duke snapped at me. My friend was there to witness it and reminded me of the saying. Children and adults need to learn a lesson when it comes to sleeping dogs: Don't touch them or put your face close to them. Just say their name or say "cookies" to wake up dogs. -- K.M., Pompano Beach, FL
MY TURN: "Let sleeping dogs lie" is indeed an appropriate saying. Most dog bites could have been avoided. You're right that saying the dog's name or saying "cookies" is OK -- but unfair if your dog expects a treat but is denied. If you gave your dog cookies every time you awakened him, he'd need to go on a diet. Older dogs are more likely to snap when pushed while sleeping. They may have less patience, and they may be in pain. Also, some older dogs don't hear well, so nudging them and then backing off may be the only way to get their attention. -- Steve Dale
YOUR TURN: I'm one of those people you think are too fervent in supporting the no kill movement because I do blame shelters that continue to kill. I have the evidence to back up my position. There are 38 no-kill communities I've identified. Notice that I said, 'no-kill communities,' not 'no-kill shelters.' The reason for that is that there are entire communities going no kill.
My research has convinced me that the key to no kill is a good shelter director. Municipal animal shelters originally came into being because people perceived a need for control of nuisance animals. This law enforcement mentality still prevails in many places. And many cities have used the local shelter as a dumping ground for problem employees, where they think they can keep them out of sight (Memphis is notorious for this). All that's changing as people are demanding better management at shelters. -- S.H., Silver Spring, MD
MY TURN: I don't know anything about Memphis employees. One issue on which we disagree is that I believe most shelter workers care (including those at municipal facilities) a great deal about animals -- hence the reportedly high suicide rate. I don't believe anyone wants to kill unwanted pets, most of which have done nothing wrong. It's a national tragedy.
It's true that one shelter touting a no-kill attitude isn't effective; the entire community must be engaged in the effort. However, for starters, some facilities which claim to be "no kill" define the term as they like. Are they truly no kill? It depends who you ask.
Meanwhile, the no kill contingent -- because they have an upbeat story to tell -- raises big bucks. And local no-kill leaders may attack shelters that routinely euthanize (often municipal facilities). It's great that shelter A is not killing, but unless the community gives up fewer pets, that merely means shelter B (typically a municipal facility with far less public support and fewer resources) is forced to the do more of the "dirty work."
I agree with your basic premise; The goal is that fewer animals needlessly die in shelters. However, some national animal welfare leaders fan the flames between the "no kill" and the "kill" factions, sometimes to sell books or raise money for organizations. This bickering benefits no one (except for book sales and fundraising) and doesn't achieve the end-goal to save more animals. -- Steve Dale
YOUR TURN: Thank you! I recently saw your tweet about (TV personality) Cesar Millan. I've long been concerned about his (dog training) methods; they are sensationalized for TV, and star-struck people have latched onto the pinning down dog, the use of spiked collars and domination. Dogs need someone they can count on; someone to trust, respect and love. You don't get that by being unkind. -- C.S., Cyberspace
MY TURN: I agree that aversive training is a bad idea. Also, I'm glad you're checking out my Twitter feed. The handle is SteveDalePets. -- Steve Dale
YOUR TURN: We've been following your column forever. When we tried to get our kids to read the paper, it was one of the few columns that attracted them. But with all your good advice, why aren't you writing books? -- B.T., Henderson, NV
MY TURN: While I'm grateful that you read my columns, I'm even more gratified if I had a small role in encouraging a new generation to read newspapers (online or in print).
I do have some books out. "Good Dog!" and "Good Cat!", my two ebooks, are compilations of column questions on pet behavior problems. Each book is $3.99, available wherever ebooks are sold. In addition, I edited a dog behavior book (still untitled) produced by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists that will published in late 2013. -- Steve Dale
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.
(c) 2011 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.