I am so mad about the answer Michael Fox provided in his May 31 Animal Doctor column [Style] to the letter by "A.F.I., Winston-Salem, N.C.," 89 and recently widowed, who asked for help in paper training her poodle puppy. Fox recommended that the woman give up her dog and get an "elderly, housetrained cat."

I cannot believe that someone who can be so insensitive to a fellow human being can be at all sensitive to animals. To use his words, "by what twist of fate" did someone so cruel become a veterinarian? I remember years ago my elderly widowed and arthritic grandmother, who lived alone in an apartment in Chicago, had a cockapoo whom she loved and who loved her. This dog was a wonderful companion to her; I think the company gave my grandmother extra time on Earth. Zsa Zsa did not get outside much and was trained to use "the paper." I guess she was just one of those "few dogs [who] accept having to live most of the time indoors and to urinate on a paper pad."

What about all the service dogs who live with homebound and disabled people? My niece lives in New York City, where she has a friend who makes his living as a dog walker, but there are many, many dogs whose owners cannot afford a dog walker and who treat their pooches with love and care even though they live in apartments and use "the paper" during the day. Maybe it's not all about living in suburbia and having the luxury of a large, fenced-in yard. Maybe animals who are loved and cared for by the elderly and who love and care for their seniors in return are much better off than the ones in suburbia who are alone most of the day.

If I am lucky enough to take after my mother and her mother, I will live past 89. I cannot imagine going through the day without my dog, and I am not an "elderly, housetrained cat"-type person.

I really hope that A.F.I. in Winston-Salem finds another vet to ask about paper training, and that she does not give up her poodle.

-- Peggy Nemetz

Upper Marlboro