Downeast Dog News

Ask Bammy, an Advice Column for Dogs by a Dog

By Nancy Holmes | Apr 01, 2019

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 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 don’t think my human knows how much I love her, and sometimes I don’t know if she loves me at all. I’m a Golden Retriever, so I’m tall enough to push my head under her elbow to lick her hand and remind her how much I love her. When I do that, sometimes she pets me and says she loves me. But sometimes she splashes coffee on me and looks at me with hard eyes and growls.

It’s even worse in the kitchen. She must like me lying right in front of the stove because she drops bits of food for me. Sometimes she trips over me. Once when she stepped on me, I yelped and jumped up. She yelped too and dropped a whole dish of people-food for me to eat. But then she got really aggressive and chased me out of the kitchen. Why, Bammy?

When she pours coffee on me and growls or sends me away, it breaks my heart. I can’t help pressing against her, looking up with all my love and grief in my eyes. Then she orders me away again, so I lie down with a moan, facing away from her with my head on my paws. If she would just let me lick her face to tell her I’m so sorry…

When she is nice, it’s wonderful! She hugs me and kisses the top of my head, and we go on lots of walks and rides in the car. She even asks me to lie on the sofa with her watching that box with live people and things in its window.

Then why is she so mean other times?

Can you help me, Bammy?

Golden Lovey


Dear Lovey,

You are breaking MY heart! But I know what you are talking about because my best dog-friend is a retriever. She took care of me when I was a tiny puppy missing my mother. She stays with me when her humans are away. I love her so much that I sometimes howl when she leaves. But she can be a pest!

When she wants attention, she doesn’t notice if I’m chewing a bone or having a nap. She walks around and around me and licks me and sticks her nose in my ear. I turn away from her and look hard at my bone to ask her to go away. Then she tries even harder to get my attention. We never quarrel, even about bones. I get up and walk away. With my bone, of course.

I think it may be hard for retrievers to understand other animals’ talk. Try to notice what Mom is doing. If she has her back to you and is paying a lot of attention to something else, she is saying that she doesn’t want cuddles. When she is playing with food in the kitchen, it’s as if she’s chewing her bone. She doesn’t want to pet you. Of course she still loves you! But there are times for snuggles and other times for food.

Listen to what your Mom says when she drops food on the floor. Boss does that sometimes. I always think she means to feed me, so I rush in to eat. Sometimes she yaps, “Leave it!” and I back off and beg. Other times, she may even call me to eat up something on the floor. Like a broken egg. YUM!

Don’t worry about her loving you. I’m sure they would howl if we went away,