Ask the Vet - Dr. Whitehead • Dr. Forsythe


Guess who’s coming to dinner

Dear Dr. Forsythe: I am writing to you is because I wondered if you had any clients who have ever had a dog who insisted on sitting up at the breakfast table with them every morning.  It seems that ever since my husband and I first let “Hank” hop up in between us and sit in one of the chairs at the kitchen table last year, he has wanted to do it ever since.  We really didn’t think it was too strange until one of our grown children was home visiting recently and was very critical about it.  According to her, we have become crazy lunatics who mistakenly think we have another child, not a dog.  She even went so far as to refuse to join us at the dinner table until we made Hank get down and eat below the table.  We’ve enjoyed your question and answers for many years, so we thought this was a good time to ask your opinion.

Bob and Karen

Dear Bob and Karen:  Well if a picture is worth a thousand words, this answer can be sent photographically and should tell you all you need to know.  It is a photo of me and my beloved Twiggy eating out recently at a pet friendly restaurant in Sonoma

What you can’t see in the photo is the fact that Twiggy had been freshly bathed about an hour before, massaged with a peach scented cream rinse leave-in conditioner, and had a dose of Frontline applied.  In addition, I had placed a little napkin under her “bootie” lest any of the less “pet friendly” patio patrons questioned the sanitation of a pet sitting in a chair that could subsequently be occupied by a human.  I took these precautions to prevent friction, hostility and possible confrontation by any other patrons who may have felt that dogs are best left in the back yard and not at places where people break bread or socialize. (yes, it’s hard to believe that in 2013 there are still people who say the words “he’s just a dog!”.

At the risk of sounding critical, your daughter sounds a bit like a sourpuss when it comes to Hank.  I’m not sure why she has such an aversion to your playful love with your pet, but perhaps she has some misplaced jelousy towards him, or more significantly, to the very close and loving relationship you have with him. The fact that she drew a “line in the sand” and refused to sit at the table while he was seated there is a big red flag that an honest, candid discussion between all of you needs to take place.  Judging from your question, in my opinion, Hank is most likely simply the catalyst that is making other, deeper feelings in your daughter boil over. And once the dust settles from that conversation, pull Hank’s chair back up to the table and let him have his food (he will probably deserve it) in thanks and recognition for being another pet that is keeping yet another family together and whole.

Good luck and Happy New Year.  Please let me know how this gets resolved.

Dr. F.

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