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My Pet World: Giving female dog a male name is no big deal

October 25, 2011|By Steve Dale

Question: On a walk with our dog, Payton (a male shepherd/collie mix), we met two girls with a female miniature schnauzer named Butch.

I realize dogs don't know a male name from a female name, but people laugh at this dog all the time. This is wrong, and I assume the dog has a complex about it. What do you think? — S.H., Chicago.

Answer: Dogs just accept things and move on. I suggest you do the same.

People may smile or chuckle when they realize Butch is a female, but I see no harm in that. Dogs put smiles our faces anyway — one of many ways they're healthful for us.

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Now, I do believe dogs can feel demeaned, so if people truly bully Butch over her name, that would be a problem. My advice would be for the Butch's owners to stay away from those boorish, immature folks. As long as Butch's family is loving and cares for their best friend; I think I get the joke — and I think it's funny!

Q: I'll be attending a Halloween costume contest with our little Japanese Chin, Nancy Oh. I read on a humane website that we shouldn't dress up pets for Halloween because they might feel humiliated. Could this be true? — B.J., New York

A: I agree that some dogs can feel humiliated.

They might stand still as a statue, head down, ears back and tail tucked. Other dogs (they tend to be small breeds like yours), however, seem to eat up all the extra attention they get dolled up as Cinderella or Darth Vader. Thinks about it: The family dresses them up (that's extra attention), then everyone tells the dog how cute she looks. What egocentric pooch wouldn't relish all that praise?

You're the best judge of your pet. For dogs who appear demeaned or want to chew up their costumes, skip the dress-up session; maybe a bandanna will be enough. If your dog appears totally indifferent to the entire affair, or relishes the attention — go for it.

Be sure the costume you pick doesn't limit the dog's mobility or impair its vision. Tight-fighting costumes are not a good idea.

Q: My 1-½-year-old miniature Australian shepherd gets car sick.

I've tried Cerenia (a medication), holistic remedies, the Thundershirt, Dramamine, and a pet-calming tablet. I've tried feeding the dog in the car, and driving without feeding him. He gets anxious and starts to drool when he thinks we're going for a ride.

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