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ASK MAX

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Archive for September, 2006

September 29, 2006 Edition

Friday, September 29th, 2006

questionDear Max,

Hi Max, We are new puppies, not that smart, and trying to learn how to “go” outside…. we forget, and it seems much more comfortable to go inside on a nice warm floor or rug than out on the cold cement…. How did you do it??

Bess and Lady Mary

Hey Max, my name is Mickey I’m 6 months and well i have little bit of a problem. well you see i would hang outside of my house the WHOLE day and finally when i get in i accidently use the bathroom inside. my family isn’t sooo happy about that. i dont think it’s normal. what can i do to stop these incidents?

Mickey

How can u get an 8 year old Pomerainian dog to stop peeing on the floor every night? I can really use the help.

Christopher

pawDear Pee Pee People,

I feel your bladder pain, my brothers and sisters. Attention parents of pee-pee-prone pets: please permit us to perambulate periodically and predictably, to prevent premature purgation!

And buy my Mom’s book, Stupid and Contagious (available now through amazon.com (click here), bn.com, and fine booksellers everywhere)!

Well, that was fun. Puppies can be forgiven their innocent mistakes. With persistence, they develop good habits. (And believe me, the casual approach to dog training — hoping we little hounds just figure it all out by ourselves — is a recipe for chewed-up Manolos.) But the bottom line is the same: we’re small-minded (with the possible exception of a dog I saw on TV who could nearly articulate “I love you!” in a howl — I mean, we all *feel* it, but that guy blew me away with his powers of expression) creatures of habit. We like schedules, routines. If a dog pees inside, it’s either because he wasn’t given the chance to go outside or doesn’t have a strong reinforcement that it’s not okay to go *inside*. So regular walks help, and so does strong praise when he does the right thing — and strong disapproval when he doesn’t. Some experts recommend crate training. The dog is in jail until it’s time to walk or play or eat. And then, because we typically don’t like to mess in our own crib, we quickly learn that walk time is release time. After a while, the association is so strong that we connect walk time with “going,” and you can set us free indoors without worrying. There’s a veritable s***load of advice on this topic on the Web, from bigger minds than mine, so search it up — “housebreaking dogs” or “house training dogs” or whatever (click here for a good one). I find that it all comes down to the parental commitment. We’re even easier to program than TIVO — and we don’t spend all day hunting up reruns.

questionDear Max:

How can i learn to communicate better with my pets? I have a lhasa apso and a kitten. sometimes i have such a hard time trying to figure out what the heck they want. sometimes my dog will bark and bark and i know he doesnt need food or water and i have played with him, but it seems he is trying to tell me something. same goes with my cat, she meows but then when i go to pet her she runs away?….awwhhh, please help me fig. out my pets!

PPV

pawDear PPV:

Here’s the translation:

Lhasa: MOM! The cat is evil! It’s crapping in that plastic box and then hiding the evidence under the gravel!

Kitten: Like she’s gonna give a ding dong damn. At least I don’t eat garbage.

Lhasa: Further establishing your lack of judgment. Waste not, want—

Door: knock knock knock

Lhasa: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??!! MOMMM! MOMMMMMMM! THERE’S SOMETHING AT THE DOOR! CALL THE POLICE!! SET UP A PERIMITER! SET UP— oh. It’s him.

Kitten: Moron. Watch this… Awww, Mommy, I so wonewy! So wonewy! Won’t someone come and give wittle me a wittle nummy jummy? That’s it… come closer…

Lhasa: You rat.

Kitten: BAM. Psych. Cold shoulder. Total indifference.

Lhasa: I don’t like you, you don’t like me. I can keep up the mutual non-aggression pact just as well as you can.

Kitten: Really? What if I give you a little right jab to the chops … like this.

Lhasa: I’LL TEAR YOUR !*&%$ WHISKERS OUT OF YOUR FACE AND KNIT YOU A MUZZLE WITH THEM! I’LL JAM MY FOOT SO FAR UP YOUR A** YOUR BREATH WILL SMELL LIKE SHOE POLISH!!!

Kitten: Told you. Hot head.

Lhasa: I’m just spirited. I have personality. I have—

Stapler: clatter clatter

Lhasa: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??!! MOMMM! MO-O-OMMMMMM!

Kitten: The stapler fell, kitty litter for brains.

Lhasa: CALL THE FBI! EMPANEL A GRAND JURY!!

Kitten: Well, this is all very amusing, but I’m outtie.

Point being, do you really want to know what they’re getting at? It’s like most conference calls. Best to just tune them out, and occasionally throw out a “Yeah, good point” or “We should look into that.”

September 20, 2006 Edition

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

questionHi Max,

Hey, Max! My human would like to know the process you used to get your book published. Did you need an agent, or what? She has hundreds of things her patients have said to her, and people always say it would make a good book! Don’t know if she’ll pull it together, but perhaps with a little directions, I could kick her the rest of the way! Thanks. We’re enjoying your column tremendously; so nice to see something well written, both with spelling and grammar, on the net (not to mention, witty as well)!

Jackson

pawDear Jackson,

Thank you very much for the compliments, and especially for noticing the self-regulation evident in the spelling and grammar.

Now, if you’re related to some Jacksons I’ve read about and you’re seeking notoriety, you should be fine. Unless you’re not Janet. Then it’s a little less certain that you’ll ever surface again. Which is fine: fame is overrated. I can barely go outside anymore. So I go inside.

But to your point: book sales don’t always depend on having an agent. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, and none of those people had an agent. Though maybe they should have: did you ever check inside the nightstand of a hotel room? It would be like having a cut of every copy of the phone book. And talk about efficient distribution! Those guys should be put in charge of clean-towel supply. By “my book,” I assume you’re referring to my Mom’s book (Stupid and Contagious, available now through amazon.com (click here), bn.com, and fine booksellers everywhere), because my book is still germinating, as we writers who aren’t presently writing like to say. But something in your question gives me paws – namely, the suggestion that your owner/operator’s book will reveal “hundreds of things her patients have said to her.” If she’s a vet, *that’s* a winning book concept, and you won’t have to work hard to find an agent to push it. But if she’s a doctor, wouldn’t that violate doctor-patient confidentiality? I mean, I get as big a kick as the next guy out of zany remarks uttered by those under sedation, but I’ve been on the other side of that needle, and I’d hate to have my secrets revealed. (Apparently, while recovering from a minor surgery, I once told my vet‘s assistant I wanted her to reverse the procedure so I could make her my bitch, a story I consider apocryphal and opportunistic.) If she’s driven to write it – and that’s the key, get it written, even a few chapters – and if it doesn’t involve defamation lawsuits, then by all means, pitch it to agents and publishers.

questionDear Max:

Hello, it’s your friend Nicole on MySpace. Anyway, my momma feeds me bread. Is it ok? Will i die?

Nicole

pawDear Nicole:

Jesus told Satan, man shall not live by bread alone. And today, that holds just as true for Max. I need variety. No, some bread won’t kill you. Crackers are a perfectly acceptable accoutrement to an otherwise balanced diet of stuff you find on the floor, in the garbage, or in the hands of people careless enough to hold food in their hands. And hot cross buns look good on more than just an angry counter girl at the local Dairy Queen (which also has food on the floor, to bring the reference full circle).

So, yes to bread – but yes to other healthy foods, too (don’t read the side of the dog food can, though; it’s a downer.) In fact, I’m surprised to see your problem phrased that way – i.e., with caution about eating something, rather than reckless abandon as you wolf it, or even stinging regret as the chicken wire you’ve just eaten is working its way back out of you to where the sun do shine.

Confucius (another great man with an enormous prophet motive) urged moderation, but then again, that was before Denny’s Original, All-American and Lumberjack Slams (now *that’s* a name for a meal – not like that sissy “tea”). To each his own, I guess.

As for me, I’d never Ask Max in advance – dogs have the ability to do things and *then* ask whether it was okay. Better known as “20-20 houndsight.”

questionHey Max:

My mom and dad got me to love but also to give them grandpuppies but I cant get pregnant. It seems me and my partner have a hard time “connecting”. Any advice for my mom and dad?

Elsa

pawDear Elsa:

Have you tried calling a furtility clinic?

Find a trusted group of friends to review and comment; get input from a good editor. Keep track of who’s received it, and have an orderly plan for exposing it. And when they say no, try again. But remember that people who tell you your life would make a good book are about as hard to find as things they charge you for on a plane. Be open to advice and criticism. And be encouraged! They publish all those books by the former presidents, and her book can’t be any worse than those.

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