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Doberman keeps out a watchful eye

Updated: May 2, 2012 3:17PM

Q. My mom’s gentleman friend has a Doberman pinscher. When my mom was there visiting, the Doberman slept outside her room every night and even followed her if she went to the bathroom. The dog was very loving and friendly. My mom wonders if the dog was protecting her or if he was protecting the owner from my mom.

A. The doting Doberman pinscher chaperones both parties, with a particular allegiance to your mom’s gentleman friend. How thoughtful for the dog to escort your mother to the bathroom in the middle of the night. But let’s not kid ourselves; the dog stands sentry on the home front lest your mom make any tricky moves.

In this case, the Doberman has a clear indication from its human that your mom is welcome. However, the dog knows its duties and has sharp instincts to guard and protect. Mom has every right to feel protected — and warned not to try any funny business.

Q. Bear, my daughter’s 16-year-old Lhaso Apso, is almost completely blind and deaf. Since my daughter travels frequently, my husband and I often care for Bear.

He has a wonderful disposition, but when we have to leave him alone in the house, he howls. Is there something we can do to make him more comfortable? He has never used a crate, but would it be good to try that?

A. At his age and stage, a crate might be too much for Bear to bear. Instead, get him a plush, comfortable bed. Place the small divan in a spot where Bear will have no trouble plunking himself down. The first time you introduce the bed, don’t make a big deal of it. Put down the bed and lard the pillows with pieces of cooked chicken, freeze-dried liver chunks or other treats. Any time you go out, make sure Bear’s bed is covered with treats, and then walk out without a word, leaving him to sniff out the goodies.

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