The difference between big and little dogs is much more than just size its also attitude
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By Mickey Zeldes  January 25, 2013 12:00 am

My husband and I dog-sat our friend’s Maltese-x, Jazz, while she was away for a few days. We’ve never had a dog this small, and that’s been a conscious choice. My husband calls little dogs “litter-box dogs” because it’s pretty hard to keep them out. All the dog proofing we’ve done in our house for our sheltie (about 30 pounds) and our Golden Retriever (about 65 pounds) is proving worthless on Jazz, who only weighs in at 5 pounds.

Jazz just laughed as she walked through our expandable baby gates we have up to block certain rooms from the dogs. She’s less than half the size of our biggest cat, so anywhere that Pashmina can fit, so can Jazz. The only difference is the dog can’t climb (at least she hasn’t discovered that yet), so we put the cats’ food dish up high and kept it out of her reach.

It’s amazing how easy it is to lose track of a tiny dog – until you walk and accidentally punt the little one. Why they like to walk directly under you is a mystery. You would think after getting stepped on once or twice they would stay a healthy distance away from feet. Maybe Jazz’s mom is more careful – we were wondering if she would learn anything during the week with us.

Fortunately, Jazz is used to cats, so moving in with four felines was no big deal to her. My cats, on the other hand, have never seen something quite this small that’s not another kitty. They alternated between staring at her fascinated and growling as she came near. No chasing or barking, though, thank goodness.

But when we went on our walk in the morning, I was stunned to see this little white fluff ball turn into a ferocious beast whenever another dog (especially big ones) walked by. What was she thinking barking hysterically at a dog that easily outweighed her by at least 10 times? Did she think her new “pack” would back her up? They were staring at her as if she’d lost her mind. Do all small dogs have that ‘Napoleon’ complex? It was so ridiculous you just had to laugh. Fortunately, the dogs didn’t take her too seriously either, and no one got hurt. I’m used to allowing my dogs to greet others as they walk by, and it was odd to be holding back a tiny, barking little dog while people walked by laughing. Obviously this is an area to concentrate training on (think my friend will appreciate hearing that?).

The best thing, I’ve come to realize about a small dog is you can easily scoop them up whenever they are not paying enough attention or are about to get into trouble. Not an option with the golden retriever. It’s also easier to take them places with you, although why people can’t shop without their pets is beyond me. It’s a new thing to see everyone walking the outdoor malls with their dogs (even more prevalent down south in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas). So, there are definite pros and cons to living with a small dog. Maybe when I’m older I’ll downsize – for now, I still enjoy walking what I call a “real” dog.

Upcoming events: Free microchips extended until we do 500 animals. Come in during any of our open hours (Wednesday from 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4:30 p.m.) with your dogs and cats. No appointment necessary. The offer is for residents of Rohnert Park and the City of Cotati only (proof of residency required).

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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