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Ask Laser Dog about life's problems. For a balanced perspective, occasional responses from "Mr. Bitter", an embittered human, are also included.
Latest Dog Advice.
Q) Dear Laser: I'm a dog of the world, and thought I'd heard just about everything. However, a dog friend said she is having aromatherapy to help her empathize with her owners. That left me totally stumped, standing there motionless with my head tilted and ears raised. Do I want or need aromatherapy, and if so, how would I communicate this to my owner? He only knows how to feed me and let me outside.
Laser replies: You've got me.
Mr. Bitter replies: It's Mister Bitter to the rescue - how often do you hear that? You want the aromatherapy oils that are dissolved in brandy. A couple of shots can help you approach potential mates at a bar, or in your case, at the dog park. A good way to see a dog therapist is to do something dramatically bad, like eating the couch. However, there is a risk that your owner will just put you outside for good.
Q) Dear Laser: I got my dogs in part to keep the pesky squirrels from destroying my back yard. Last week I looked out the window and saw one of dogs laying in the sun and chewing a bone, while a squirrel was doing squirrelly things to my lawn less than two feet away from the dog. How can I convince my dogs that chasing squirrels is part of their job description?
Laser replies: I can't imagine not chasing squirrels - these furry rodent vermin were put on earth to be chased by dogs. You may have to train your dogs, for example by chasing the squirrel yourself. Another approach is to get an accomplice to drag a squirrel toy around the yard while you run after it. Once the squirrels and dogs stop laughing at you, normal chasing service should be resumed. It's also possible that you are overfeeding your dogs, though most dogs would say that this isn't possible.
Mr. Bitter replies: You can also dress up in a squirrel costume, tie a pork chop round your neck, and have the dogs chase you. Try this at a public park, your yard is too small. This is also a good way to get a dog that doesn't really like you to play with you, er, so I've been told.
Q) Dear Laser: We are two beagles living a very good life in Columbus, Ohio. Our three human attendants provide excellent food - no pellets for us - and lots of attention. HOWEVER, we have heard our people talking about becoming "foster parents" for beagles who need a place to stay for a few weeks or months while a permanent family is found. It took us over a year to figure out our dominance hierarchy, what the HECK is having a third beagle around, even if only temporarily, gonna do to our established order around here? Are our people crazy? Or are we being closed-minded?
Laser replies: You might be able to deal with The Third Beagle (which sounds like a good title for a book), but it's the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and additional beagles that are going to cause trouble. Your people aren't crazy yet, but round-the-clock total beagle mayhem might drive them over the edge. It depends if they ever want to do anything but pay attention to beagles while at home. Two extra beagles will enable canines to outnumber humans in your household. Democracy demands that when activities are voted on, the canines will always win. By the way, the permanent family is likely going to be your people, so these temporary beagles may be around for a long time.
Mr. Bitter replies: I tried to volunteer at the humane society once, but was turned away because my demeanor was depressing the animals.
Q) Dear Laser: I'm trying to think of a name for my dog. Here are some suggestions: Moocher, Bounder, Wagger, and Density Functional Theory (because, like a dog, it's difficult to understand). What do you think?
Laser replies: The Humane Society named me Laserington Theodore Dogworthy the First, which is a name that commands respect. My current lazy owners shortened that to Laser The Dog. You should name your dog something impressive, like "His Eminent Canine Quadrupedal Furriness, the Lord Fido", then insist on everyone using the full name and title at all times.
Mr. Bitter replies: My boss calls me "Hey, you", so if I had a dog I'd call it "Hey, dog".
Q) Dear Laser: I'm looking for a new hobby, after getting bored with collecting coat hangers. I'd like something that gets me outdoors, brings me into contact with people, and doesn't cost much.
Laser replies: You should get a dog and visit the Dog Park.
Mr. Bitter replies: You also can also try panhandling. A dog can help you collect more money, so I found out, er, from a friend.
Q) Dear Laser: I want to survey Ann Arbor residents' attitudes towards dogs. How many people should I interview to make a representative survey?
Laser replies: As a dog, I like to extrapolate from a single data point. For example, today I received a dog treat before breakfast, the first time this has ever happened. Extrapolating then, I should receive a dog treat every day before breakfast. So you only need to interview one person. If the person doesn't give the answer you want, keep bothering them until they do.
Q) Dear Laser: I'm planning a round-the-world trip, including Australia, Japan, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, France, and England. The air fare will be high, so should I save money by making my dog slum it at the dirty, run down kennel?
Laser replies: I don't think you are going to enjoy this trip. Australia is full of sand and kangaroos; you've seen hundreds of photos of Mount Fuji and don't need to see it again; just how interesting can a wall be anyway; you can eat at many places called the Taj Mahal; France is full of the French; and England is full of old stuff, which is un-American. So you'll have much more fun on a tour of American dog parks with your dog, and save kennel fees as well.
Q) Dear Laser: You have your own web site, so I figure you must be a dog nerd. How do you spot a dog nerd? They don't wear glasses or hang around in sad laboratories at the weekend. Most don't have web sites.
Laser replies: I'm not a dog nerd, but maybe I'm channeling some of the nerdiness of my biped associates. I think weimeraners are a bit nerdish, they're certainly a lot more serious about caninity than I am.
Mr. Bitter replies: My boss treats me like a dog, so that makes me a dog nerd. Look for a frowning creature with an air of despair.
Q) Dear Laser: I recently started dating this guy, who is OK, I guess. He has a really nice dog, who I love, and his dog and my dog get along extremely well, like a couple of furry siblings. However, I just met this second guy, who I've fallen for in a big way. Should I dump the first guy, or stay with him for the sake of the dogs?
Laser replies: Another one for the book of "Love Tails" that I'm working on. (Send stories to laserlab ["at" symbol] tm.net). Actually, this is very easy. Of course you should stay with the first guy. The second one sounds like big trouble, and you could easily find yourself giving too little attention to your dog in preference to some stupid biped.
Mr. Bitter replies: I'm so sympathetic. Two possible relationships at the same time. Like I have that kind of problem. All I have to choose is which type of pizza to eat on my own in the evening.
Q) Dear Laser: I'm a mixed breed dog. It's no big deal, except for when I go to the park where it's mostly pure bred labs. I'm just not into retrieving balls, yet I want to fit in. Any ideas?
Laser replies: Yes, the robot-like conformity of labs disturbs me as well. There's more to life than "I obey". You should target one lab and try to push it over with a quick two-pawed lunge, accompanied with a barrage of barks. That might distract the dog from ball fetching. Then again, it might not, you never know with labs.
Mr. Bitter replies: Part of my job description is "Fetch things for the boss with retriever-like obedience." That's just after "Maintain high morale", which I got hammered on during my last annual review. Anyway, leave them alone, they're just doing their job. Maybe they are bitter beneath their happy, bounding exterior.
Q) Dear Laser. I'm a fairly active dog, and like a long walk every day. However, my owners recently moved to a grim icy wilderness, and I'm lucky to get a quick march around the block through the snow. The cold doesn't bother me, because I'm furry and brainless. What should I do?
Laser replies: Humans are very strange. You could try chewing up their gloves, coats, and scarves, in the hope that they buy better cold weather clothing, allowing them to stay outside longer. However, this plan might backfire, and they might just start throwing you outdoors on your own. Being brainless, you'll just stand outside looking pitiful, and as a result get no exercise at all.
Mr. Bitter replies: I'm thinking of moving to Minneapolis and getting a short-haired dog. Then we should be equally miserable outside in winter. (Actually, I may be bitter but I'm not crazy enough to live in Minnesota).
Q) Dear Laser. I find it difficult to concentrate at work, and find myself reading all kinds of stuff on the Internet, such as advice columns written by dogs. What should I do?
Laser replies: Maybe you should polish up that resume and apply for a more interesting job.
Mr. Bitter replies: My manager suspended several of my work privileges, including web-surfing, coffee-drinking, using the bathroom, and smiling. So I'm not the person to ask.
Q) Dear Laser. I'd like a dog, but aren't sure I can really be bothered with it, what with all the walks, stupid belly rubbing, etc. Is there some kind of very low maintenance dog you can recommend?
Laser replies: If you can't be bothered with a real pet, then get a cat.
Mr. Bitter replies: The lowest maintenance animals are inflatable, but as I found out, people will gossip if you own several of them.
Q) Dear Laser. My dog has a birthday tomorrow. What should I do?
Laser replies: Start off with some buttered pancakes for breakfast, two for you and ten for the dog. Let the dog lick the butter off your two. When the pet store opens, drive over with the dog (all car windows open), grab a trolley and load up with anything the dog sniffs, except other customers. With a bit of luck, you should escape with a bill under 200 dollars. Then, spend the rest of the day at your favorite dog park.
Mr. Bitter replies: Nobody sends me birthday cards, so I ignore everyone else's birthday. Ask yourself, what did the dog buy you for your birthday? Nothing.
Q) Dear Laser. I'm thinking of buying a car. What should I consider?
Laser replies: A car is more than just a contraption for getting a dog from A to B. The dog should also travel in comfort, and have a back window to look out of. Two of my friends have a Volvo station wagon, which seems OK as dogmobiles go.
Mr. Bitter replies: A dog's nose can make nose-prints on a car window for ever. You should look for a car with an internal washer-wiper system.
Q) Dear Laser. I am over-weight. What should I do?
Laser replies: IMMO (in my mooching opinion) You should get a .....dog! A dog would take you on lots of walks. Or would get so fat you will look thin by comparison.
Mr. Bitter replies: If you order a lot of pizza, the dog can help you lose weight by eating the last few slices. You won't have to eat them with your cornflakes the next morning. However, cold pizza in the morning is one of the few joys of my life, so I wouldn't want to give that up.
Q) Dear Laser. Nobody understands me. What should I do?
Laser replies: IMTWO (in my tail-wagging opinion), you should get a dog. You and the dog can then spend many years in mutual incomprehension.
Q) Dear Laser. I can't get a date. What should I do?
Laser replies: IMBO (in my bouncy opinion), a dog can help! Train your dog to introduce itself to potential dates. There are several advantages to this approach:
Mr. Bitter replies: I can really relate to this question, as I haven't had a date in weeks, well, er, years. I like to stay in and watch Star Trek re-runs, but can't really recommend this as it doesn't seem to work.
Q) Dear Laser. My owners are thinking of buying a house. What should they look for?
Laser replies: IMCO (in my canine opinion), a house should have a ten acre fenced lot, deep shag pile wall-to-wall carpets (so everywhere is a dog bed), sun spots suitable for sleeping, and squirrels to chase.
Q) Dear Laser. I feed my dog a bowl of pellets twice a day. Recently, he has been off his food. What should I do?
Laser replies: IMFO (in my furry opinion) it's all about presentation. You should fry up the pellets with steak in butter, sprinkle cheese over them, and then pour gravy over the lot.
Mr. Bitter replies: A dog's job description is to eat and sleep. If he can't even manage eating, he should be demoted to a Large Rodent. That happened to me when I messed up at work recently.
Q) Dear Laser: We skated pretty well, and would have got a gold medal if the judging had been fair. What should we do?
Laser replies: If you want something badly enough, you have to be persistent. Either you or your supporters need to keep complaining, moaning, and begging until you get your way. I once secured a second dog treat after four hours of relentless whining.
Mr. Bitter replies: Few people know this, but I won a gold medal in the 1998 Bitter Olympics. It was held in Toledo, Ohio, the location is never any fun. I won in the "Downhill Career" event, after being demoted to Lab Assistant Fourth Class, reporting to a magnetic stirrer.
Q) Dear Laser. I like to go for a walk early in the morning, but my owner likes to sleep in, particularly on weekends. What should I do?
Laser replies: I used to wonder about that, until I realized that most humans need quiet to sleep. Barking is effective but unoriginal, so I prefer to produce disconcerting noises. This morning I spent several minutes scrabbling at the carpet in the living room, and a biped appeared soon afterwards.
Mr. Bitter replies: I used to live next to an old guy like that - he would mow the lawn at 6 am. Not sure why - I wasn't going to get up and rub his belly.
Q) Dear Laser. I'm a judge on the Florida Supreme Court. How do I decide which votes to count, and which to throw out?
Laser replies: No one has addressed the problem of Florida's 100,000 or so disenfranchised dogs. Every dog should be given a ballot to chew on, and the results hand counted by tomorrow. Obviously, there will be small technical issues concerning masticated chads, chewed chads, licked chads, multiple bite holes, shredded ballots, and the exact intention of the canine voter, but I'm sure you guys can figure it out.
Mr. Bitter replies: I can't help, but I'm sure the loser will be as bitter as I am.
Q) Dear Laser. I'm running for President, but it looks like a lot of trouble ahead. What should I do?
Laser replies: I'm putting myself forward as a compromise candidate, a dog that everyone can get behind. I have balanced opinions - recession is bad because it means less disposable income for dog treats, but good because unemployed people have more time to spend with their dog. I'm also willing to extend a paw of friendship to cat people, no matter how poor their judgment is.
Mr. Bitter replies: I used to count sheep to put myself to sleep, but now I count chads.
Q) Dear Laser. I'm running for President, but it looks like I'll be a few votes short. What should I do?
Laser replies: Concede the election, then get yourself nine or so dogs to form a Canine Cabinet. You could have Secretaries of Tail Wagging, Demented Bouncing, Mastication, Sleeping, Walking, Pulling on A Leash, Running Around, Barking, and Whining. Good dog names include Bungle, Miscount, Chad, Holepunch, Irregularity, Apathy, Torpor, Mandate, and What Mandate.
Mr. Bitter replies: I've always dreamed that one of my many bungles at work would somehow change the leadership of the free world. Looks like I should have gone in for ballot design.
Q) Dear Laser. I am stuck in a job that I don't like. There seems no point in going on, the despair is overwhelming. What should I do?
Laser replies: Get a dog. The dog will give you several clear purposes in life, such as walking the dog, petting the dog, buying nice dog treats, and rubbing the dog's belly. As long as you can manage those duties, who cares about the job?
Mr. Bitter replies: I've spent most of my life in your situation. You could always take evening classes, I suppose. I took a web design class, but a golden co-worker was given the job of webmaster by the boss. The memo justifying his rapid promotion made a big deal of his web design skills, most of them learned from me.
Q) My boss has favorites, but not me. I'll never be a golden person. What should I do?
Laser replies: Try owning a dog. You'll be the dog's favorite person, and to the dog, you'll be always be golden.
Mr. Bitter replies: I can well relate to your problem. Try setting aside a small period of time each day, for example 3 hours every evening, to wallow in self-pity. That's what I do. Not sure it will help, though.
Q) I recently adopted a dog. The dog is nice, but barks a lot and won't obey commands. What should I do?
Laser replies: It's typical specist nonsense to assume you have to be boss. Maybe you are meant to be the dog's pet. Try to figure out what the various barks mean, and jump to it.
Mr. Bitter replies: Yes, that's typical. You try to do something and it goes horribly wrong. I owned a hamster as a kid, but had to take it back to the pet store because it kept nipping at me. They didn't tell me it was a Mexican Biting Hamster until after I returned it.
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