Ask a Terrier
As a fully qualified terrier, Budleigh is devoted to sorting out your life in much the way he sorts out the lives of rabbits or other small prey.
Submit your questions, thoughts, or challenges by filling out the form below. Your identity will remain confidential, unless you’re a rabbit or other small prey.
Budleigh’s Ask a Terrier column appears below the submission form. (Yes, just scroll down. This isn’t that hard.)
Check back here often. You never know when Budleigh might answer your question. Or steal your shoe. Or dig under your trellis.
Ask a Terrier: It’s In the Bag!
What’s the best bag for a dog? My sweetie Brussels Griffon, Tinker, commutes everywhere with me in her suede faux-fur lined carrier. But she’s an uncompromising fashionista! And a style trendsetter, judging by the head-turning envy her presence evokes.
The problem is that the fringe on her carrier – I call it her runway – is looking a bit ratty. And worse, passé! She deserves better. Well, the best!
I’m desperate for your voguish advice on her replacement carrier. A tote that will part crowds when they see her coming. Something savvy and sassy and cleanly fashion forward. Otherwise we might as well just outfit her in a velour tracksuit and platform pumps and call it 2002.
J. J. and Tinker, #MadShoppingInNY
Dear J. J. and Tinker,
Happy to assist. Fashion is my life! Just after killing chipmunks. Oh, and tug-tug.
Full disclosure, though: With the exception of my collar, I’ve never worn any fashions. Yes, there was a brief afternoon when my Giants and I “discussed” a no-pull dog harness. That didn’t end well. For anyone.
Ask a Terrier: Semper Canis!
How cool is it that a new line of postage stamps will honor the military’s working canines? Have you seen them? They feature four breeds often used as military working dogs: German shepherd, Dutch shepherd, Labrador retriever, and Belgian Malinois.
Sadly, no Chihuahua mix like my Loki. Has the military considered training and deploying Chihuahua mixes? Loki would be ideal for covert missions where concealment and stealth are imperative. Unless it’s against field mice near a bird feeder. Loki gets very emotional.
And what about terriers? Are you jealous?
Kevin B. and West Point Cadet hopeful Loki
Dear Kevin and Loki,
Jealous? More like envious. Proud, brave, and uncomplaining despite having to wear harnesses, our fearless military warriors are trained in narcotics and explosives detection, search and rescue, security, and tracking.
I can steal socks from the laundry basket, but there seems little call for that skill set.
Ask a Terrier: Talkin’ TED
A question for you, Budleigh.
Have you considered giving a TED Talk? You’ve such an essential grasp of the issues and themes that trouble us all. Well, mostly dogs. But I’ve also picked up many useful tips from you. And frankly, you’ve more valuable advice to share than most TED talkers who drone on about saving the environment, or technology that solves world hunger, or extending life through emotional fulfilment. Yawn! We all just want to know the best tug-tug toys.
Well, mostly dogs.
As a loyal reader, I urge you to expand your forum to the TED stage. The world would benefit. Plus, you’d look so adorable wearing one of those headset microphones!
Hoping to Manage Your Career,
Greg P., Buffalo, NY
I’ve thought to give a TED talk. Especially in advance of the release of my self-help book, “How to Be Less Whatever It Is You Are and More Me.” But while I lecture extensively, and often to groups that are feral, TED might not be my ideal forum.
Ask a Terrier: Just How Infra is Our Structure?
So, when the village rebuilt the sidewalk in front of the house, they had to take down my silver maple tree. Or more precisely, Kippy’s silver maple tree, as he has been – how shall I phrase this – nurturing it 2 – 3 times a day for eight years. He’s handled it pretty well, although it’s shaken his faith in government. Now they’ve upended Kippy’s favorite street sign at the end of the block which he’s also nurtured all these years. His world is coming apart. He’s outwardly stoic, but instead of gazing at me with the face of an adoring pup, now he glares with the cold, dead eyes of a mob hit man who’s been double crossed.
Is that normal?
Sleeping with One Eye Open,
Dale, Oak Park, Illinois
Dear Dale and Kippy,
Kippy’s right. Government has failed. So screams my Yelly Giant who throws a lot of stuff at Anderson Cooper.
Ask a Terrier: Not a Black Hole Lot of Excitement for Dogs
I’m filled with awe and wonder that scientists have captured the first images ever of a supermassive black hole. Some describe it as the Eye of Sauron, others as a glowing one-way portal to eternity. Looks like my right eye in junior high after I took a line drive to the face.
Still, awe and wonder!
As the darkest entities in the universe, black holes are impossible to see, say astronomers. I totally understand their mathematical reasoning: An intense gravitational field that…something, something. Einstein’s theory…something, something…time and space. Really, really big…something, something…Star Trek.
Despite my excitement, Anka, my Shar Pei, shows no interest in black holes. I’m sure that she understands as I’ve explained their importance. (“Anka! Outer space…something, something…cookies!”) But she just rests her head on my knees and seems bored. Well, not about the cookies.
How can I ignite her scientific curiosity since I’m running low on dog treats?
Sincerely, Miriam and Anka, science geek and disinterested dog, Atlanta, GA
Dear Miriam and Anka,
Which ones are Shar Peis? With the wrinkly faces, right? Maybe Anka’s excited but you can’t tell.
Ask a Terrier: What’s Bugging Budleigh?
In a recent column you mentioned eating spiders, which got me thinking, “Ewwww!”
It also got me thinking about recent video of a spider the size of a dinner plate—a dinner plate!—observed in the Amazon rainforest of Peru. It blatantly killed and ate an opossum as though perfectly aware of YouTube.
Now I’m worried that legions of dinner plate-sized spiders are rapidly reproducing, then headed our way. And frankly, there ain’t a Wall big enough!
As you’re comfortable with a certain level of spiders, any advice on where I should hide?
Cowering Behind the Furnace, Burlington, VT
In typical Giant fashion you’ve reacted to overblown reports of “spiders the size of dinner plates” before asking, “Who’s dinner?”
Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Goes All Scatolog-ICK-al!
Scientists in New Zealand have found a working USB memory stick filled with someone’s vacation photos and videos frozen in a slab of leopard seal poop deposited on a beach.
I don’t know what to do with this story, but I can’t unread it.
Can you help sort it out?
Thanks! Closing My Eyes Just Makes It Worse, Boston, MA
While I sympathize with your trauma, as a dog I just can’t relate. Giants are so reticent to discuss poop. Until they get old. Then that’s all they talk about.
Ask a Terrier: Your Dog or Your Boyfriend. Is That Really a Question?
I came across your column while looking for advice about keeping New Year’s resolutions. So, are you a dog or what? If you are, maybe you can help me with my Resolution No. 4: Train Shanda, my Samoyed, to like my boyfriend. Or maybe just not snap at him so much. He’s a wonderful guy, but he’s never had a dog, so he does things that upset Shanda. Like sitting in her chair. Or at the kitchen table. Or anywhere, really. Also, Shanda barks too much when he’s around. But I think he startles her. He’s very tall.
Any suggestions how to bring these two together? I’d have them hug it out, but Daniel – that’s the boyfriend – doesn’t trust Shanda’s teeth so close to his throat. But she’s such a sweetie!
Best regards, Soon to be Single? Cleveland, Ohio
Yes, I’m a dog. And while it’s reasonable to ask my credentials, perhaps you’re just avoiding the real question: What’s a Samoyed?
Ask A Terrier: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
I read about a new study indicating that dogs may have an inner clock which would explain how Cinnamon, our Cocker Spaniel, always knows exactly when it’s time for meals. However, here in Illinois we just switched from daylight savings time (“Spring forward. Fall back!”), and my little sweetie is annoyed that her food is being served late.
Is there a way to reset a dog’s inner clock? Like a switch or button or something? I’ve scratched that adorable little patch of white on Cinnamon’s muzzle. She loves that, but is still running an hour ahead. An hour behind? Now I’m confused!
How can I adjust Cinnamon from daylight savings time?
Hoping for timely intervention, Claire S., Oak Park, IL
Dear Claire S.,
First, the correct term is daylight saving time. A Giant shouldn’t need a Terrier to tell her that.
Ask a Terrier: Dogs Are A Bargain! Except For The Money
I’m having a disagreement with my Cockapoo, Mighty, and I’m hoping you can straighten one of us out. Maybe both.
According to a recent Cost of Dog Ownership Survey conducted by the website Rover, people drastically underestimate the costs of owning a dog. Most believe a dog costs between $26 and $75 per month. When I stopped crying bitter tears, I read that dog owners spend an average $153 per month.
Mighty, who is 14 years old, considers that reasonable. I say he owes me $137,624. But I’ll settle for $125K. Mighty insists that he’s paid his way in licks and kisses and scaring away squirrels and invisible monsters. He raises a good point. Am I wrong to keep things on a strictly cash basis?
Hope you can settle this while I’m out taking Mighty for his walk.
Best, Sam and Mighty the Cockapoo, Illinois
Dear Sam & Mighty,
To be honest, Giant money confuses me. What is it, one dollar equals seven dog years or something like that? I have a Giant Intern to deal with all that.
Ask a Terrier: Destroy All Monsters!
Poolie eats cicadas. A lot of cicadas! Like more cicadas than any dog in the world. I’ve tried to stop her but she’s fast. And a lot closer to the ground than me. Are cicadas bad for her? I can’t stand them, they’re so ugly and loud. Not that I’m profiling. I just worry that they’ll make her sick. What’s the appeal and what should I do?
Yuck! Jacob, Northfield, IL
There’s a lot to unpack here, Jacob. First, your claim that Poolie eats more cicadas than any other dog.
You may be a Giant, sir, but how dare you! I’ve eaten nearly all the cicadas, so your bragging is like a gauntlet across my muzzle. Were you here and not Northfield, whatever that is, you’d leave me little recourse but to ask you and Poolie to step outside. Which is where I keep my cicadas.
Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Reminds Vacationers, “Hey, Ya’ Got this Dog Here!”
I’m really looking forward to a summer getaway, but am worried about Hanover, our mixed breed “guilt hound,” who can’t come with us. She was a shelter dog, so I worry about boarding her in case she suffers flashbacks. But what if I hire a pet sitter who, it turns out, is a Satanist looking for a sacrifice? Whatever I do, Hanover’s going to give me “the look” – Where do dogs learn that? – which says that somehow I’ve let her down? Again! Maybe instead of traveling we should just stick with another stay-cation, and movie marathon-cation, and tub-of- Ben-&-Jerry’s…cation. Any advice would be appreciated?
Hoping to get the Hell out of Dodge, Janelle, Chicago
Separation from their dogs can be a very emotional issue for Giants. The best approach is first to ask yourself, “Just how many Satanists live in the neighborhood?”
For me, I suspect two, those Giants who own the black dog with the pointy ears who pees – and I’ve witnessed this! – on my hydrangea shrubs. Tell me that isn’t the act of Lucifer’s hellhound.
Ask a Terrier: Cloning Has Budleigh Seeing Double
So Barbra Streisand cloned her dog? Seriously? They can do that? Does it cost a lot? How much lightning is involved? Is the clone exactly like the original dog or more of a sequel, like Funny Lady vs. Funny Girl? Could you explain the scientific process, the ethical and moral implications, and whether Barbra will come do the procedure? ‘Cause I’m big fan! So’s Chip, who’s a hound mix and very musical.
T.W. and Chip
Dear T.W. & Chip,
It will come as no surprise to longtime readers that I have a very strong opinion on this issue, which is “What’s cloning?”
Usually when faced with a controversial topic I’m not familiar with, my Giants research it by watching MSNBC then yelling at each other until I find clarity. Since they were busy binge watching The Crown, I explored the issue using SIRI. He’s this Airedale I know from the dog park.
Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Takes a Walk on the Wild Side
How worried should I be about my dog versus wild animals? Our big backyard is right next to a forest preserve. Sometimes Nanook , our tough guy, zooms out the back door and charges all the way to the rear fence, barking wildly. The trees are pretty thick, so I can’t tell what’s there. But I’ve seen enough horror movies to suspect it’s something terrible. Nanook returns when called, but he’s not happy about it. I want him to be careful, but I don’t want him doubting his manhood. Doghood. You know what I mean.
Thanks for your advice. Larry, Sheboygan, WI
OK, let’s all stop ignoring the touchy issue of wild animals and squarely address what I call the “coyote in the dog park.”
That is to say, Oh m’God, there is a Coyote in the Dog Park!
Recently I was walking my Giant through the neighborhood and was examining a particularly interesting pile of leaves when he shrieked like a chew toy, then yanked uncomfortably on our lifeline.
And just a quick word to Giants about the lifeline: Don’t call it a “leash”. That’s offensive. It’s like calling your dog a “mutt” instead of a “genetically diverse fur-enhanced co-worker.”
Sorry, but it had to be said.
Ask a Terrier: Dogs and Children – When Species Collide
Do you get along with kids? My toddler is infatuated with dogs. She won’t go anywhere without her toy “Fooby”. But somehow she’s detached both of Fooby’s ears and split a seam where he once had a tail. Could that behavior be a problem someday? How can I prepare her for a world full of canines?
With thread in hand, Jan W.
Dear Jan W.,
Just so we’re all on the same page, Fooby’s a stuffed dog, right? And he’s always been stuffed?
If so, it’s not too late for your toddler to be rehabilitated.
Although unavoidable, mixing dogs and little Giants can be tricky. As Fooby learned to his sorrow, little Giants view dogs as a collection of removable parts in a Fisher-Price “My First Mammal” play set.
Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Analyzes Therapy
I think that I’d make a good therapy dog. Is it hard to become one? I have my own harness. It has a pocket. Are there any further requirements? FYI, my fur is soft.
Respectfully yours, Baldur (as dictated to my Giant Mitch)
My Yelly Giant often remarks that, “The best therapy dog comes in little, blue pills!” Then, he laughs. A lot! Sometimes cries.
He means, I assume, that to pursue this higher calling, canines must understand the difference between being a therapy dog, trained to provide comfort and affection, and a service dog, permitted to carry a concealed firearm.
Ask a Terrier: Hero or Hungry?
Did you see this video on social media where a Golden Retriever called Storm drags a drowning baby deer from the ocean? Then Storm nuzzles and paws it, and probably would have attached a defibrillator if he was vocally able to shout, “Clear!” Dogs are awesome! Do you think I can train Millie, my Rat Terrier, to be that cool or has that ship sailed?
Love your column! Michael M., Madison, WI
Dear Michael M.,
I’ve heard about Storm’s dramatic rescue, but not seen it because I can’t access social media due to paws.
However, my Giants seemed quite taken with the story, watching it repeated on the news shows, praising Storm with teary eyes, then sighing at me.
OK, Giants, message received!
The Latest Dirt on Dog Germs
Should I be worried about germs tracked in by my dirty dog? A recent story in the New York Times cites research that dogs bring an array of micro-organisms into our overly-scrubbed homes that may actually be salutary to helping us stave off a number of illnesses by strengthening our autoimmune system. If true, our Newfoundland, Greta, will be much relieved! She worries so.
Thanks for your thoughts. Ingrid G.
Dear Ingrid G.
“Salutary”? Don’t know that word, but if it means “with sauce”, then I agree!
My Giants are avid readers of the New York Times, and, of course, as a puppy I often peed on it. So I’m well familiar with the high quality and absorbency of that paper’s content. And their story spotlights a major controversy: Should a travel ban be placed on micro-organisms seeking to enter our homes?
Budleigh Offers Food for Thought
So what is the best dog food? I feed Roscoe, my beagle, a nutritious mixture of dry and canned food that the vet recommended. Roscoe seems satisfied since he eats it all in four seconds. And he’s healthy. But I wonder if he’s really enjoying his meals? I’d really appreciate an average dog’s perspective. No offense.
Jacob, of Roscoe&Jacob
On advice of counsel, I’ve been told not to recommend specific brands of dog food until such time as they pay my Giant.
However, since I’m a terrier rules don’t apply to me. So I’m not afraid to name names. The best tasting, most nutritious and economical dry food for Roscoe comes in that big bag with a picture of a dog on it.
It’s also available in a smaller bag that features a picture of a dog. Only a smaller dog.
There! Now I’ve done it. Let the law suits begin!
Washing Machines of Mass Destruction
Oh great Dr. Budleigh,
My sweet golden retriever heard the sounds of an unbalanced washing machine (loud banging) and the fearless Lily is shaking and quaking at the thought of entering that hallway. I’ve tried a trail of treats, a heap of food and nothing has cured her. She eats her meals close to said washing machine, now dubbed the Great and Powerful Oz, so any thoughts on a cure?
Eternally grateful to ya! Lisa H.
To be clear, I’m not a doctor, although I do have a license. Also a microchip in my neck.
However, I often counsel fearful dogs – usually while cowering under the bed with them – to help them face their issues, confront their anxieties, and, ideally, share those trails of treats you mentioned.
The Veterinarian is In! Budleigh Offers Advice on Not Swallowing Pills
Daisy, my labradoodle, has a skin rash and she has to take pills. She really hates that and tries to spit them out. Also, she tries to hide under things that are way too small for her, like an antique end table.
I don’t want her to be so anxious. Could you, maybe, talk to her?
Thank you! Carla H., Seattle, Washington
Labradoodle? Really? That’s a thing now? OK, no judgments.
Much of the blame for Daisy’s – and all dogs’ – reluctance to swallow pills can be laid at the feet of Giant Veterinarians who routinely treat illnesses with medicines rather than exploring alternative cures, like bacon. I may have had no formal education beyond Basic Obedience and Leash Etiquette, (instructor’s critique: “Budleigh doesn’t heel up to potential.”) but if bacon is “cured” and an illness needs a “cure”, well, you do the math, since I can’t.
So, we’re stuck with pills.
Ask a Terrier: The Giant as Emoticon
I’m really asking this question on behalf of my Giants. It must be really important, because they ask me ALL THE TIME!!!!
“Who’s a good dog?”
Careful here, dear! Because Giants are so adorable, it’s easy to forget that they’re only capable of the most basic feelings and emotions like joy, fear, and overdrawn.
Giants that excitedly ask, “Who’s a good dog”, especially while repeatedly slapping their thighs and comically widening their eyes, are revealing more about themselves that about you. “Who’s a good dog” is simply a reliable indicator of your Giant’s good health, especially when their nose is moist and their coat glossy and lustrous.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
I am a miniature poodle. I want to be friends with other dogs, but I lunge at them barking ferociously. How can I curb this behavior?
Thank you! Pebbles
I feel your pain. Or might, if you’re biting, too.
You’re being far too hard on yourself when, of course, Society is to blame. I’m not sure who “Society” is, but my yelly Giant blames Society a lot. I think Society is that Giant, Steve, down the street who doesn’t return power tools.
Pebbles, you ask how to curb this behavior. I ask you, “Why?” Lunging and barking ferociously is just one dog’s way of saying to another, “Can I give you my business card?”
Is it a terrier world? Is it?
Dear Budleigh, ( I don’t believe that is your real name!)
Explain to me why on Earth a terrier is better than a noble black lab who happens to have the name Louie, weighs 67 pounds, loves to watch baseball and Seinfeld, is a good bromance buddy, lives in Michigan, makes a wicked rice pilaf, does my taxes (all forms and schedules), avoids polarizing political discussions, and generally brings peace and joy to our household?
Go ahead, make my day and explain that to me, brillo boy!
Yours, Minnesota Twins Fan Theatre Guy
Labs are nice, too.
Oh, Great…Another New Collar
Dear Mr. Budleigh,
For a Christmas stocking stuffer, I’m thinking of buying a new collar. Any advice?
Carrie, South Bend, Indiana
Dear Ms Bend-Indiana,
Is the collar for you or a dog? That’s not clear. If it’s for a dog, then yes, I can advise. If it’s for you, seek professional help immediately! But I’m guessing it’s for a dog, right?
Giants love to buy collars for their dogs, especially during the holidays. I heard that in the weekend following Thanksgimme Day, more than 154 million Giants went shopping. I don’t know if they all got me new collars or just chipped in for one really, really nice one. But I wish they’d asked me first. I don’t want a new collar. No dogs do.
Sorry I said “dog do”, but this issue is that important.
What is “dog” backwards, again?
I recently attended a Blessing of the Animals at a nearby church with my basset, Grimace. My wife is Catholic, I was raised Jewish, my son says he’s an atheist, and my daughter just insists she’s for Bernie Sanders.
So what religion are dogs? Did we only confuse Grimace? He seemed to enjoy the service, except for a parrot that scared him. Appreciate your thoughts!
Best, Religiously Challenged
What religion are dogs? That’s a question I get a lot.
I’ve been told – and firmly believe – that “dog” backwards is “god”. I’ve also heard that “terrier” backwards is “god”. Oh, and “cheese” backwards? Also “god”.
I have faith that these are all true, because I can’t spell. Not even sure what “spell” is. But I do know this: parrots are nuts! And scary!
Don’t worry about Grimace. He seems spiritually grounded. I’m a bit concerned about your family, though.
Why? What are you?
Hi Budleigh. You’re so cute! What are you, and are other dogs and their giants jealous of your good looks?
Denise S., Deerfield, Illinois
Thank you, Denise S Deerfield Illinois,
I’m probably a cross between a terrier and terrier, although not the same terrier. I’ll never know. I was a shelter dog, but I’m not bitter about that. And yes, everyone is jealous of me except the chipmunks in the Giants’ garden who know only fear.
Winnin’ and waggin’!
How about them Cubs? Do you think you’d like to be their new mascot?
Yay Cubs! Yay Budleigh! Donna
My Giants would like that. They’ve been waiting to win a championship for 756 dog years. Me? I’m not sure. I’m good at chasing balls. Just not so much at giving them back. Is that gonna be a problem?