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Little car’s a big adjustment for golden retriever

Updated: October 16, 2012 9:14AM

Q. Tye, a 2-year-old golden retriever, arrived from Michigan about a month ago. Tye had been used as a stud for a breeder. When he was neutered, the breeder’s family took him in for a few months before offering him for sale.

He is a wonderful dog but has one problem: Although the previous owners assured me Tye loves getting up and riding in the car, he will not jump into my car. I have to sit in the back seat and coax him.

One guy at the dog park suggests Tye is a Michigan-bred dog, raised with big American cars and my little Toyota Prius hybrid unnerves him. Could this be true?

A. Your dog park pal has a point, a very good one. If Tye was brought up riding around in ginormous vehicles, the confused dog must indeed be nervous confronting the miniscule back seat of a Prius. Dogs are such creatures of habit. And what is imprinted on them as pupsters lasts a long time.

Tempt Tye with high-test treats (such as dried liver chunks or pieces of boiled chicken) placed prominently on the back seat and always take him to a fun place. You can keep getting into the back seat and luring him thither but you don’t know if this was the car behavior of his previous family, which is why it resonates with him. So stay out the back seat, try treats, your best coaxing voice and, please, don’t expect instant miracles.

Q. Here are two things not to say to anyone who has just lost a beloved pet. Number one: “So, are you going to get another one?” Every pet has its own personality and has worked its way into your heart. It can’t be “replaced” like a light bulb.

The other offensive remark is, “How old was it?” Well, sure, your passed pet may have had a long life, but are they ever really “old enough” when you love them so much?

A. You make good sense, although you should understand people always fumble for the right words. Many are not so enlightened as to know what to say.

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