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Dog keeps family on short leash

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Many people are not taking a vacation this summer. It doesn't have anything to do with the gas prices. They can't leave because of their dogs.

Silk said, "We wanted to go to the Berkshire Mozart Festival in the worst way, but the hotel wouldn't take Moonrock so we canceled."

"Why didn't you put Moonrock in a kennel?"

"We tried to do that last year, and he wouldn't look at us for four weeks. Carrie said she wasn't going to go through that again."

I said, "Has it ever occurred to you that Moonrock is manipulating you and wants to be the center of attention? You should be firm and tell him that you two have a right to a vacation alone."

"You don't know Moonrock. If I told him that, he would be hurt and eat the rug. He doesn't even like it when we leave him at home to go to the movies."

"The dog is running your life," I told Silk. "You should tell him that he either behaves like a grown-up or you'll give him away."

"We couldn't do that."

"Moonrock wouldn't know it was an idle threat. The important thing to understand is that you can have a dog wagging his tail some of the time, and some of the tail wagging a dog all of the time. But you can't have all of the dog wagging his tail all of the time. We once had a dog named Zenith who terrorized us. We couldn't go anywhere without him howling into the night. 'All right,' we told him, 'if you want to go out so badly, you go out and we'll stay at home.' We put Zenith out in the back yard for several nights, and when he realized we were practicing tough love he stopped howling."

"Carrie would never let me do that. She says she knows what is going on in Moonrock's head. He's thinking, 'How much can they love me if they want to put me in a kennel in the summertime?' "

"Some of the best dogs in town go to kennels in July or August."

"And some of the worst ones, too. A dog may be man's best friend, but he is not another dog's best friend. Carrie says she could never enjoy Mozart knowing Moonrock was being fed by a stranger."

I told Silk, "You're good dog owners, but you can't sit at home in the heat because of a pet. You have to think of yourselves and say, 'It isn't as if we haven't done everything in our power to take Moonrock with us. How much more does he want?' "

"That's easy for you to say. But last year we wanted to go to Maine, and Moonrock was so upset he ate two feet of the couch."

"What did you do?"

"We canceled the trip. We felt this was Moonrock's way of telling us that if we left he was going to eat the whole house."

"It's your dog, and you can do what you want."

"We want to go to the Berkshires for the Mozart Festival. The festival is only one week, but we have to live with Moonrock all year long. Maybe you could take him for us."

I was aghast. "You have to be crazy. Who wants to board somebody else's dog?"

"I thought you'd say that. People are always talking about how much they love other people's pets. But when push comes to shove, they won't even give them a bath."

Editor's note: Art Buchwald is reprinting some of his favorite columns, which are distributed through the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.