Dear Annie: I am having an issue with our 13-year-old bichon frise and am hoping that you can point me in the right direction. We adopted our dog when he was 1 year old, and he was house-trained. Until recently, our work schedule allowed us to walk him three times a day. Midsummer, my husband changed jobs, and we now are able to walk him only twice a day. It had not been an issue until recently. For the past two months, he has been going in the house nearly every day while we are at work. We have consulted the vet, and our dog was medically cleared. The vet suggested we sedate him during the day with a mild sedative, saying that should decrease the accidents.
I have a few issues. I do not believe that it's right to sedate our dog just because he cannot hold it any longer. Also, I am feeling that his quality of life is pretty miserable at this point because we have to lock him in the bathroom (or else, obviously, he would destroy our house). At the moment, I am considering re-homing him with someone who could be home with him and let him out more often than we can and give him more attention. I am at a complete loss as to what to do. We have considered all of the options, including a doggy door and doggy diapers. Day care, at $25 per day, is a little out of our comfort zone. I'm sure we are not the only ones who have dealt with this issue. A couple of people we have talked to are fine with their dogs using their home as a restroom. But we aren't. — Help
Dear Help: You're the only family your dog knows. It would be a shame to re-home him in his twilight years. You don't have to choose between giving up your dog and giving up your clean home. You could pay a responsible young person in the neighborhood a weekly fee to take your bichon around the block. Ask your neighbors for recommendations, or post about it on Nextdoor. (Nextdoor is a great resource for finding dog walkers, last-minute baby sitters, etc., and for staying informed about what's happening in your immediate community: https://nextdoor.com.)
You could also try an indoor potty solution, such as the PetZoom Pet Park, the BrilliantPad or even a litter box. Canine Journal outlines those and other options in an article titled "Dog Toilet 101: Why Your Dog May Need One," available on its website.
It also would be worth seeing another vet for a second opinion to fully rule out all medical issues and learn how to best accommodate your little friend as he ages.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Wondering Woman," who was wondering why men spit on the ground. I work as a union plumber in New York City building high-rises, and yes, I'm a man.
Working in such a dirty atmosphere for eight hours a day, I am constantly spitting to rid myself of some of the pollutants I breathe in on a regular basis, which will no doubt wind up ultimately killing me. I have a buildup of mucus because of the myriad pollutants in dust form I breathe into my lungs. "Yeah, yeah, then wear a dust mask," you'll say. No one on a construction site wears a mask for eight hours a day. My point is, don't be so quick to judge us.
Now, I can't explain why the men in fancy suits spit. Maybe they're emulating their heroes in Major League Baseball. — Charles
Dear Charles: If spitting helps prevent your ingesting dirt and pollutants, please, expectorate away. (But also, please be safe and talk to your doctor about your long-term health concerns.)
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]