Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Keep Kids Cell-Free While on the Road

DEAR HARRIETTE: My dog is a small Chihuahua mix and hates being outside in this winter weather. People think I torture her when I take her on walks because she shakes and looks petrified. I make her wear a coat, but I still get judgmental looks and comments from strangers in my dog-loving city. She can't do her business in the house. How do I defend myself when my dog looks tortured in temperatures below 40 degrees? -- Walking in the Snow, Boston

DEAR WALKING IN THE SNOW: One of the challenges that owners of exotic dogs have is getting them acclimated to the climate in which they live. This can be tricky in a case like yours. Chihuahuas are native to Mexico, a country that is typically tropical in climate, or at least very warm. Chihuahuas are typically very small dogs with little body weight, so it is unsurprising that they would be cold walking outside in inclement, cold weather. This is why many Chihuahua owners (as well as owners of other small, short-haired dogs) buy doggy gloves and coats to help protect them from the elements. You say you already do put a coat on your dog. Consider a heavier one -- for the dog’s sake, not for the onlookers. In some instances, dog owners carry the dogs to the park or wherever they take them to relieve themselves and put them on the ground to do their business.

When it’s really cold, you may want to put a pad outside your home so that the dog can relieve itself without a true walk. You can also check with your dog’s veterinarian to learn the best recommendations for protecting the dog in the winter months. After you have done what is suggested, feel confident that you can walk with conviction, knowing that you are properly caring for your dog. If others give you the side eye, ignore them.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)