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Ask Laser

Dog advice from Laser. Ask Laser Dog about life's problems. For a balanced perspective, occasional responses from Mr. Bitter, an embittered human, are also included.

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Q) Dear Laser: I'm supposed to be a black lab, but my owner gave me bottle blonde highlights! Does this make me part golden retriever? Am I supposed to obey every command? Is there something I can roll in to get my black labness back?

Ask Laser

Laser replies: Bipeds occasionally dye their own head fur, but a dog's fur is protected by Article 6 of the Canine Constitution - no doggie dye jobs. Maybe you could find the carcass of a black-haired animal to roll in.

Q) Dear Laser: Our yard has a great spot to roll in. However, every time I perfect that unbeatable moldering skunk carcass aroma, my owner washes it off with sickly smelling chemicals. Why is she doing this?

Laser replies: Bipeds are very sensitive to changes in odor. You should aim to increase your personal odor gradually over a few months.

Mr. Bitter replies: You dogs are so lucky. I get hassled mercilessly at work if I don't shower every week.

Q) Dear Laser: Can you train a dog to throw up in the toilet?

Laser replies: This must be my owner. How about some more walks and petting? Anyway, you have no problem cleaning up after me, so what's the problem?

Q) Dear Laser: I'm a smart dog that knows lots of tricks. However, in today's world, I need to back that up with a graduate degree, preferably a C.D. (Canis Doctor). Do you know how I could obtain a Doctor of Caninity?

Laser replies: As it happens, I'm in the process of setting up Laser Canine University (LCU). You need to send in your life credits (such as descriptions of complicated dog tricks) and a large check, and you will receive a degree certificate in return.

Mr. Bitter replies: I sent a description of my life and a check to the University of Central Lake Michigan, but all I got in return was a Certificate of Ineptitude. I tried to get a refund, but wasn't able to figure out how.

Dear Laser, My parents live a long way off. It would be nice if they had an Internet connection, so we could exchange e-mails. However, they don't seem interested at the moment. Is there any kind of photograph I could put on my website to make them think about getting web access?

Laser replies: Yes. You should go to the Humane Society, and adopt an absolutely adorable dog. Then put pictures of him up on your website. Who could resist that?

Ask Laser

Mr. Bitter replies: Laser - you are deluding yourself. Who wants to see dog photos on the web? You can see real dogs at the local park easily enough.

Laser re-replies: In fact, over five people have looked at this website in the last year.

Dear Laser, I've decided that my dog is a companion animal, not a pet, so it would be disrespectful to pet him. However, my dog isn't buying in to this no-petting, species equality paradigm. What should I do?

Laser replies: Your fundamental, profound, misguided, and erroneous mistake is to believe that petting your dog lowers his status. In fact, you are acting as the dog's servant by providing him with frequent belly rubs.

Dear Laser, Is there a good place for a dog to go swimming close to Ann Arbor? I'm an old dog with hip problems, so it would be nice if the water were not too cold.

Laser replies: These questions are easier when we make them up ourselves. I'll go wading until my belly gets wet, then that's far enough for me. If there's anyone out there who can help, please let me know.

Dear Laser, We are three beagles living at the International House of Beagles in Columbus, Ohio. Our owners have gone and had three children, so now we feel outnumbered by bipeds. How can we persuade them to adopt another beagle or two?

Laser replies: Your owners would be mad to adopt more beagles.

Mr. Bitter replies: There are no other living beings in my life, just consumer electronics, empty pizza boxes, uncomfortable furniture, an unreliable car, and a cloud of despair that follows me around. I tried to adopt a dog from the Humane Society, but it didn't want to go with me. Apparently, that was the first time a dog had refused to leave.

Dear Laser, I chewed on a wasps nest and now my nose is swollen. Do you think I should do it again?
P.S. My owners want to know if you have any swollen nose remedies. Molly, Crazy Dog in NY

Swollen Nose

Laser replies: That's the pitiful look I aim for when begging for extra food or a dog treat. Hopefully, your owners will be sympathetic enough to keep extra treats coming your way.

I recommend ice cream for a swollen nose. Even after the swelling has gone down, a daily scoop of ice cream on top of your pellets should prevent a relapse.

Mr. Bitter replies: I looked like that after my last annual review. I was demoted yet again, and ended up reporting to a nitrogen cylinder.

Q) Dear Laser, I don't know whether to sign up for cable TV or satellite. What do you recommend?

Laser replies: You are barking up the wrong tree. What you need is a Canine Home Interactive Entertainment Facility (CHIEF). Install the CHIEF on a dog bed in the center of your living room. It's worth getting a larger size, as the smaller units suffer from sound quality problems (yapping).

Mr. Bitter replies: Another alternative is to create a home video library. You can save money by inviting a romantic prospect home to see a DVD, rather than taking her to the movies. I tried that last week, but she walked out shortly into one of my favorites, Twelve Step Loser Recovery Program.

Q) Dear Laser, I'd like to get a dog, but am reluctant because they often smell bad. What should I do?

Laser replies: You are suffering from odorism, an irrational prejudice against animals because of their smell. You need to put these biases behind you. Anyway, once you have owned a large dog for a year or so, the dog won't smell much different from the rest of your house.

Mr. Bitter replies: Laser suffers from malodorism, particularly after a wade in the Saline River.

Q) Dear Laser, A local deli sells good bread, but it goes dry and stale too quickly. How can I stop this?

Laser replies: One approach is to leave any unused loaf on a kitchen counter. A passing large dog can then thoughtfully reach up, grab it, and trot around the house holding the bread in its mouth. The dog's moist breath will keep the bread feeling fresh for another day. If you don't have a large dog, contact the Humane Society.

Q) Dear Laser, Do you support leash laws for cats?

Laser replies: The sight of an unleashed cat might well upset the local bipeds, as representing a gratuitous and disturbing freedom from rules and regulations. Ann Arbor is like that, the more rules the better. But, caninely, I don't wish leash laws on cats. At least, not unless we get a dog park and they get a cat park.

By the way, it's a common specist stereotype that dogs hate cats, but cats don't bother me. Squirrels, on the other paw, should be chased on sight. I'd support leash laws for rodents, where the rodent is leashed to a rock to slow it down, allowing me to catch it.

Q) Dear Laser, I'm a very good dog, or so I'm told all the time. However, my attendant biped has recently turned into the World's Most Boring Human. He mostly sits around reading large and dull looking tomes. What have I done wrong?

Laser replies: Bipeds have two concepts alien to the average pet dog - work and study. Fortunately, both of these can be disrupted by constant whimpering, pawing, nose nudges, whining, scratching at the door, barking to come in and then not coming in (message - time for a walk), barking at invisible things outside, incessant trotting around, sitting and beaming at the biped for long periods, engaging in noisy food stealing raids on the kitchen, and other canine pawnipulations. All you lack is imagination and persistence, like my colleague Mr. Bitter. You must try harder.

Mr. Bitter replies: That was harsh. I was just basking in the glory of being promoted to second most boring human.

Q) Dear Laser, My dog is looking sick. How do I choose a vet?

Laser replies: Try to find one that your dog can tow across the room when you hand the leash over. A bout of vigorous vet-towing always makes me feel better.

Q) Dear Laser, I'd like to give blood. How do I go about it?

Laser replies: It's part of the Canine Code to resist that kind of thing.

Mr. Bitter replies: Try mowing a lawn at dusk on a Michigan summer evening. Try not to donate more than one pint to the local biting insect community at one time.

Q) Dear Laser, A colleague at work returned from a meeting looking happy, saying there had been a lot of yapping but not much yipping. Apparently this was a good thing. But what did he mean?

Laser replies: I don't really know, perhaps one of our readers (or maybe the other one) could answer this. In general, yapping and yipping are both undesirable. What you really need is a dog that goes RUFFF.

Q) Dear Laser, I'm currently working as a greyhound, but am thinking of retiring. Will I enjoy being adopted?

Laser replies: The last thing I want is another retired greyhound at the local park. As for adoption, it may take a little time to get used to. Eventually, you may grow to like lying around, being taken on walks, being driven to the park, and having your ears rubbed. Hard to say. Who am I kidding? You're going to love it.

Mr. Bitter replies: Your making me jealous. There's no market for retired embittered seethers like me.

Q) Dear Laser, We recently saw an ad on TV for an expensive SUV that featured a beagle. How does a dog get to do exciting stuff like star in a car commercial instead of just lying around the house chewing on bones? -Three bored beagles in Ohio.

Laser replies: It's not easy to become a canine media celebrity. If it were decided on merit, I'd have my own evening show. You might try -

Failing that, you could console yourself by lying around the house chewing on bones - which doesn't sound so bad to me.

Mr. Bitter replies: You beagles live a life of idle luxury, and you still complain. I've worked hard to become an abject failure, so it's annoying to hear of dogs that don't even have to lift a paw unless it suits them.

Q) Dear Laser, my owner seems upset that I eat mice. She also didn't like it when I ate a frog (the other white meat). Doesn't she realize that dogs are carnivores? Molly the Dog, NY

Laser replies: Humans are strange, but they eat better food than you're describing. Maybe you should concentrate on stealing human food. Rodents should be chased, but not eaten.

Mr. Bitter replies: Laser, that's because you are too fat and slow to catch those squirrels.

Q) Dear Laser, I'm tired of the television being the focus of my living room. I want to throw it out, and replace it with a fish tank. What do you think?

Laser replies: Here's what you should do. Throw out the TV, then arrange the furniture in a rough circle around a large dog bed. Obviously, you'll then need a large dog to lie on the dog bed, the Humane Society can help you out with that. Your room now has its focus. The large dog will also be more interactive than the average TV. Also, it's unhealthy to sit and eat snacks while watching TV. It's much better to sit and watch a dog eat snacks.

Dear Laser. My parents won't let me get a second dog, even if I pay for him myself. I found the perfect little boy beagle. I have a huge golden retriever that my sister wanted when we were about 7 years old and now she's off to school and my parents think I will leave them to take care of the dog for the next 15 years like my oldest sister did with her cat. How can I convince them that the two non-loving animals we already have are not mine and that I can take care of my own pet? Thanks, Companion seeker.

Laser replies: Your parents' concerns are valid - they could well end up looking after your dog in a few years. However, everyone likes beagles (don't they?) - they are small dogs with big dog personalities. You should take your parents to see the beagle you want to adopt, or bring the beagle home for an afternoon to let the parents see him for themselves. The famous beagle charm will quickly undermine their resistance. If that fails - use the Laser Dog Treat Getting Technique - bother them mercilessly until they give in.

Q) Dear Laser, I recently bought a new house. The living room has an orange-brown plaid shag carpet, which my dog likes to lie on. Underneath the carpet is a solid maple hardwood floor, which looks beautiful. I'm planning to pull up the carpet, refinish the floor, and maybe put down a rug for the dog. What kind of rug do you suggest?

Laser replies: Here's what you should do. Pull up the carpet, cover the wood floor with a thick foam underlay, then re-install the carpet. This will turn your living room into a wall-to-wall dog bed. There's no more beautiful sight than that.

Mr. Bitter replies: I used to own an orange plaid suit, but traded it in for something more stylish - a rayon paisley open-necked shirt and medallion, white polyester bell-bottom trousers, and cowboy boots. It makes quite an impression on a first date, but not quite enough to get a second date. Women are so demanding.

Q) Dear Laser, We have a serious problem of moles in our yard. What should we do?


Laser replies: All rodent harassing is best done by a canine individual such as myself. Go to the Humane Society and pick out a houndy-looking dog.

Q) Dear Laser, I decided the feathers just weren't me so I traded my boa for an Elizabethan collar. My question is, how do I drink from the toilet? Samantha the Cat, NY


Laser replies: You'll have to give up the fresh, frequently changed toilet water for the stale stuff that sits around in a bowl on the kitchen floor. Look on the bright side, at least you'll be able to hear mice from miles away.

Mr. Bitter replies: I always wondered what a CATV antenna looked like.

Q) Hey, Laser, I am all dressed up with no place to go. What should a cat do for a little excitement? Samantha the Cat, NY


Laser replies: Dogs don't have the exciting night-life of the average feline individual. Once it gets dark, I just like to lie around and chew the hide.

Q) Dear Laser: Why are they called dog biscuits, and not dog cookies?

Laser replies: I'm not entirely sure. However, I am prepared to engage in extensive taste testing to investigate this question.

Q) Dear Laser: I recently took a job with the Dark Side. The pay and benefits are excellent, so is it OK to stay?

Laser replies: More money means more dog treats. You should stay with your evil employer as long as the hours aren't too long, as this might reduce dog walking times.

Mr. Bitter replies: If you're as useless as me, you are doing society a favor by working for the forces of evil.

Q) Dear Laser: I'm clearly a dog, but am I a pet or a companion animal?

Laser replies: I prefer "Semi-Autonomous Mammal" (SAM), or Large Autonomous Biped-Responsive Animal Designed for Outdoor Recreation (LABRADOR), but my ears enjoy being rubbed so much that "pet" is fairly accurate.

Q) Dear Laser: I want to redecorate my house in a light green color. Unfortunately, my brown dog will not match the new color scheme. Can I dye my dog?

Laser replies: Forget it. Take your dog to the hardware store and get paint color matched to your dog. It doesn't matter about any new furniture, as it will soon be covered with dog hair.

Q) Dear Laser: I just read in the paper that cats have less medical problems than dogs. Can I save money by getting a species change for my dog?

Laser replies: The dog would also need dramatic personality reduction to be like a cat, or like you for that matter.

Mr. Bitter replies: A friend once gave me some personality doubling tablets. I didn't notice any change at all, but apparently that meant they worked perfectly.

Q) Dear Laser: My dog is insanely happy one moment, then pitifully unhappy the next. I think he is a manic depressive. What should I do?

Laser replies: Another term describes those symptoms: canine.

Mr. Bitter replies: I'm half-way to manic depression, as I'm never anything but depressed. Actually, one of the most depressing things about dogs is that they are so much happier than you are, well, than I am. You could try reducing the dog's happiness by, for example, taking the leash for a walk and leaving the dog at home.

Q) Dear Laser: I've got electrically heated seats in my car, but can't find heated seats for indoor use. How can I sit on a pre-heated couch first thing in the morning?

Laser replies: First you should head over to the Humane Society and get yourself a dog, the bigger the better. The dog will loyally keep one cushion of your couch warm all night, then make way when you decide to get up.

Q) Dear Laser: I've been hearing a lot about the proposed tax cuts - some say they will only help the rich. How can I tell if I am a rich dog who will be helped - and what kind of help can I expect?

Laser replies: Look at your last tax form.

Q) Dear Laser: I'm normally a fairly active dog, but have spent the last few weeks in a peaceful, tranquil state. Now I find out that I was Dog of the Month all this time. Am I psychic? RTR, Ann Arbor

Laser replies: No, but your canine aura is tuned to the Internet.

Mr. Bitter replies: Canine aura? You dogs must eat granola for breakfast and have crystals hanging from your collars.

Q) Dear Laser: My girlfriend says I drive too aggressively. She seems really annoyed, probably because of the vomiting. How can I learn to drive more considerately?

Laser replies: First, you should head over to the Humane Society and get yourself a dog. Put the dog on the back seat, then pay attention to the following signs:

If that doesn't help, having a dog will cushion the blow of being dumped.

Mr. Bitter replies: I drive a 1978 Chevy Nova, so hard acceleration is the least of my many problems.

Q) Dear Laser: I'm a growing puppy who enjoys going to the Dog Park. I get along well with my big brother at home. But at the Dog Park he acts like he doesn't even know me unless there aren't any other dogs around, then we play great. I'm a cool dog and I'm getting bigger so what's the problem?

Laser replies: Your furry sibling may prefer to wrestle with dogs his own size, so you'll have to wait until you're bigger.

Mr. Bitter replies: Being a dog, you can follow any other dog as persistently as you like. We humans, on the other hand, get hit with a restraining order for just trying too hard to be friendly. Anyway, stay with him, and he'll have to notice you sometime.

Q) Dear Laser: I have a new little brother that follows me all around the dog park and when I want to play with my dog friends, he always wants to butt in. Why can't he find dog friends of his own?

Laser replies: If you are playing properly with another dog, you won't notice him. Maybe you spend too long aimlessly trotting around.

Mr. Bitter replies: Maybe he has Socialization Absence Disorder (SAD). A friend once told me that I had a bad case of SAD, and not to visit any more because it might be "contagious or something".

Q) Dear Laser: My dogs smell like French toast, should I put syrup on them?

Laser replies: Dogs prefer butter to syrup.

Mr. Bitter replies: This is the kind of thing that happens when we take real questions from readers, rather than just making the questions up. I've got no idea what you're talking about. I've had syrup poured over me at my favorite local diner. The waitress hates me. But I'm hardly going to start tipping after that.

Q) Dear Laser: Should I wash dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher? I always do, but friends tell me this is a waste of time.

Laser replies: Make sure your dishwasher comes with a remote cleaning mechanism, as shown below.

Remote cleaning mechanism

Q) Dear Laser: I need to buy a dishwasher. What type do you recommend?

Laser replies: Make sure you get one with a good pre-cycle cleaning mechanism, as shown below. Get the dishwasher from a discount store and the additional cleaning mechanism from the Humane Society.

Cleaning mechanism

Mr. Bitter replies: One benefit of my sad and lonely existence is not having to wash the pizza boxes or take out carriers.

Q) Dear Laser, There are supposed to 17 year cicadas everywhere at the moment, part of Brood X. I haven't seen one yet. A friend said it was because local cicadas changed to a 20 year cycle following the 1995 GATT treaty. What on earth is he talking about?

Laser replies: What on earth are you talking about?

Q) Dear Laser: I'm an old dog. How do I persuade my owners it's time to clone me?

Laser replies: My dream is a machine that can produce a dog clone from a single dog hair. Then the world would be full of Lasers. Until then, I don't know.

Mr. Bitter replies: I'd pay to clone the one woman in the world who might be interested in me, though I guess I have to find her first. Anyway, there are enough dogs around already, so you don't need cloning.

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