Downeast Dog News

Ask Bammy, an Advice Column for Dogs by a Dog

By Nancy Holmes | Sep 01, 2017

I am a Carolina Dog, a breed that long ago owned Native American people. We were designed by natural selection to be so intelligent and physically superior that we survived without human help. My great-grandfather was caught from the wild. I can offer advice based on the natural instincts and attributes of wild dogs. In addition, my adoptive person and I have had lots of training classes and other experiences. Some humans call themselves Mom or Dad of their dog, but I refer to my human, tongue in cheek, as Boss. Much as I love her, I admit she has many of the same odd notions as most humans, so I can relate to other pet dogs with problem humans. If I can’t help, at least I can offer sympathy, and we can have some fun talking about our amazing humans. Please send your questions! Bammy, 280 Pond Rd. Newcastle, ME 04553, or email:


Dear Bammy,

I thought my Dad and I had a pretty good thing going, but I guess he didn’t think so because he takes me to what he calls “go-to-school.” There are other dogs and humans there and a woman who talks a lot. My Dad seems to be interested in her, but I want to meet the other dogs. Anyway, my problem is that the teacher wants Dad and me to do everything differently that we did before. Dad used to say, “Roxy-sit-Roxy-sit-Roxy-sit.” That makes sense to me. I have time to finish whatever I’m thinking about before I sit, but the teacher had him just say, “Roxy-sit” instead. Roxy-sit doesn’t mean anything special, so I just watch the other dogs. The teacher told him to sweep his hand up in front of my nose. After he did that a few times, I got bored with watching his hand go up and down, so I sat down to be more comfortable. He said, “Good dog,” and gave me a little piece of cheese! We moved on to “Roxy-come-Roxy-come-Roxy-come.” Same thing. “Roxy-come,” just doesn’t get my attention. I go on sniffing around waiting for him to say something important.

I’m so confused! I love it when Dad praises me, but I just can’t figure this out!

Roxy Boxer



Dear Roxy,

I hear your confusion! You and your human had a perfectly good communication system, but now it’s not working – for either of you! I think that might be called throwing the puppy out with the poop. When Boss really needs me to do something quickly, I know by her voice that I’d better do it. But most of the time why can’t we just allow each other some flexibility? I wait while she finishes whatever she’s doing at the stove before she lets me out, and she could allow me to sniff out all the news on a hydrant before I come to her. Of course, I keep my eyes on her, so she knows I’m waiting, and on a walk she watches me, so I know she’s waiting.

However, there are differences in what is urgent for each of us. I bet if you are getting ready to jump up on a lady in a white dress, your dad would say “Roxy-sit” in a different voice than he does at go-to-school. You would know you’d better sit, or at least not jump on her, even if it’s not the right word and he doesn’t have any cheese. Likewise, when I give my sharp alarm bark and then run to Boss looking excited, she quickly obeys my command to go to the door. On the other paw, she doesn’t put her book down and run to the kitchen when I drop my empty dish on her toe!

So what to do about it? I’m afraid this comes back to the ancient history of dog and human. When our ancestors, those Asian desert wolves (Carolina Dogs look somewhat like them, but Boxers?!)… When our ancestors lay down by the campfire, they had to give up some of their rights. If they didn’t cooperate, they were the first into the soup pot in times of famine. You’re not going into the soup pot, Roxy. I bet you can get away with some dawdling.

Happy sniffing,