Downeast Dog News

Ask Bammy, an Advice Column for Dogs by a Dog

Nancy Holmes
Oct 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! N. Holmes, 280 Pond Rd., Newcastle, ME 04553, or email: askbammy@tidewater.


Dear Bammy,

Why do my humans keep whacking me on the head?? They were smart enough to find that I existed. They were smart enough to get into their big crate-on-wheels and make it zoom along some roads to me. They looked at all my brothers and sisters and were terribly clever to choose me – the best of the litter. They find food and water for me, take me for walks, help me learn how to please them, but still, they whack me on the head! Since they are so smart, why can’t they see that I don’t like head pats? I say whack because even if they really don’t pat very hard, having a hand fly over your head and land on you, is not a nice thing. They have been doing it for three years. That’s how old I am.

I’ve tried ducking or even backing away when I see the hand coming. That’s hard for a Golden Retriever to do, because we love being rubbed and petted. Just thinking about it makes my tail wag. I love my family so much – how can I let them know that I don’t like hands landing on my head?

Thank you for all your help for us dogs,



Dear Jenny,

You are an angel for putting up with that for three years! I know how hard it is because I have had hands landing on my head for – well, let’s just say lots of years. Boss finally seems to be catching on, but she still falls back to the old pat-pat habit. I don’t growl or snap because people talk nicely and smile while they do it. But even with Boss, who should have gotten over it by now, I duck or back away when that hand comes flying toward my head. WHY – Jenny – is it so hard for humans to notice that we don’t like it?

Sometimes dogs reach out a paw toward another dog’s head when they are playing. It feels to me like an insult or a challenge, so I charge the patter and try to knock her over. But you can’t do that with full sized humans, and you’d better not do it to human puppies because they squeal and their parents growl at you.

Pup, I really wish I could think of a quick solution! Just keep ducking and backing away. I know it’s almost impossible because petting feels so good – in the right places at the right times.

Gotta love those humans!