Dog Lady offers advice about "Bark Mitzvahs," and how to deal with a hairy dog while in a new relationship.

Dear Dog Lady,


Ever hear of a Bark Mitzvah? My friend Marge is throwing one for her dog, Biscuit. Her invitation promises plenty of food, a “coming of age ceremony,” games and “other surprises.” I can’t imagine what other surprises; “Bark Mitzvah” alone took my breath away. Frankly, the whole thing offends me, even though Marge has always seemed like a reasonably sane person. What’s your take?


Warren


Dear Warren,


In Marge’s life, Biscuit is her blessing -- her “mitzvah.” She seeks a reason to celebrate her dog. You may find it offensive, but Bark Mitzvahs have become an accepted rover ritual, according to Forward, a Jewish journal. Reporter Rachel Zuckerman wrote that Bark Mitzvahs offer an excuse to celebrate canine family members, and for temples to raise money in a wholesome way through outdoor activities.


Our dogs may not be conscientiously spiritual beings, but they do have a paw in the divine. Pets are the focus of other church marketing efforts. Attendance doubled at an Episcopal church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after the invitation went out for pets to participate once a month at Sunday services. Another Episcopal church in Connecticut offers Holy Communion to pets. Outside houses of worship, some priests and rabbis now say prayers at animal burials. They also accompany grieving owners when pets are euthanized.


Don’t be turned off by Marge’s unorthodox invitation. Dog Lady encourages you to accept graciously, buy a small gift, and go in the spirit of l’chaim – to life!


Dear Dog Lady,


I have a wonderful boyfriend who owns a wonderful golden retriever. I love the boy and the dog, but she sheds a lot and I find it unclean to have her in our bed. My boyfriend is used to sleeping with the dog, and he’s become accustomed to having her fur all over the place. I just can’t stand it. I always wake up with dog hair in my mouth. Is it unsanitary? Or should I shut up and stop complaining?


Jocelyn


Dear Jocelyn,


Obviously, you’re not wild about hairy. Fur from the dog is not unsanitary -- except to those who are allergy-prone or in fledgling relationships. You should speak up. Cottonmouth is annoying enough without throwing in a dollop of dog dander.


If your boyfriend is as wonderful as you say, he will understand. And don’t mount a campaign to ban the dog completely. Perhaps you could suggest canine crib visiting hours. Spin it positively. Stress how you don’t want to interfere with his relationship with the dog but speak up about how you need your private space with him.


You might also mention that dog hair in the sheets bothers you. He could have no clue about your discomfort. Your attentive boyfriend can put a dog bed nearby so his pet will be close but not intrusive.


Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. The Dog Writers Association of America recently gave Monica a 2009 Maxwell Award for excellence in newspaper essay. The Maxwell medal is named for Maxwell Biddle, who wrote about dogs for more than 50 years. Monica's Web site is www.askdoglady.com. Contact her at askdoglady@gmail.com.