I worry about the puppy, Blarney, that lives next door. He belongs to an elderly woman who would otherwise live alone. This dog never gets out for a walk. His leash is hooked on at the top of the stairs, and there is barely enough rope for him to get all the way down the stairs. The dog is approximately 1 year old and has never been bathed, groomed or on a vet visit. I want to help this puppy, but I'm not sure of the best way to approach the situation. Please help.

Gather your courage and have a little chat with the elderly woman about Blarney's care. Express your worry in a comforting tone. Offer to take the dog out for a walk. See how the woman reacts to your kindness. She needs a helping hand. She might also be grateful. Having this puppy is probably too much for her.

You are not being a meddler to fear for the fate of the next-door puppy. The woman needs companionship and she did the best thing by getting a dog. However, a puppy requires lots of exercise. A young dog was a poor choice.

Dog Lady feels hopeful for Blarney because the dog has you, a concerned guardian angel neighbor. You might offer to put the woman in touch with a humane society or shelter.

Maybe you could engineer a switch and rescue the puppy while finding an older, calmer shelter dog for your neighbor.

All of this sounds like a lot of volunteer work on your part, but if your efforts are successful, the rewards will be great for all concerned — especially Blarney.

Because of my neighbor and his dog Cassius, I am eager to close up our summer home and move back to our regular place. Cassius is a Portuguese water dog and unfixed. My neighbor keeps the dog expertly groomed and shaved. I once asked about the haircut and he explained the breed has a modified poodle cut. The backside is bald and so are the hind legs and nearly the whole tail. Having to look at Cassius' shaved behind is not pretty.

Real men fix their dogs. They do this because the neutering procedure makes sense for a dog's health and well-being in our overpopulated world. Your neighbor sounds as if he has some issues of his own to work through.

A neutered dog is a calmer dog and is less likely to respond to the call of the wild — and impregnate a neighbor cur in heat, which could produce unwanted puppies to fill up the straining animal shelters.

You can politely suggest your neighbor fix Cassius (how you start this conversation is beyond Dog Lady's powers of social discourse).

Otherwise, smile and move on with the hope that someone in a position of authority (Cassius' veterinarian?) speaks up.

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