Competition (9/14/05)

Dear Zelda,

My high school football team is the Bulldogs so I'm guessing you might have some good advice for me.  I am a high school senior this year and pretty good at football.  My best friend is also on the football team and when we're not playing football we have a great time, but when we are on the field he turns into a different person.  He gets all mean and talks about how great it is to hurt players on the other team bragging about "almost biting the guy's ear off." He’s a really cool guy but I don't know what to do about the mean guy he turns into on the field. Should I talk to the coach and hope he doesn’t find out or just keep quiet and hope he’ll change?

Team Player

Dear Team Player-

Now I’m all about being an athletic supporter (something sounds a little funny there, doesn't it?) but that type of behavior...Puhleeeze!

Before we go any further, though, I want to say that it’s incredibly mature of you to realize how ridiculous your friend’s behavior is. Men twice and three times your age are still doing the same thing at their league sporting venues, and haven’t yet woken up and smelled the testosterone. It’s all driven by that archaic, hormone-fueled trait we call: Alpha Dog-ism.

Your buddy’s need to express his dominance is one to which us dog folk can definitely relate. It’s not unusual that in a pack of aggressive dogs, one will be vying for the title of “alpha dog.” The alpha dog is the one that shows the most aggression, has the loudest bark, and is so ignited with hormones that he makes sure everyone around him knows he’s not to be messed with, or ears might be bitten! Your buddy is doing the same thing, vying for the role of alpha dog on a daily basis, but he’s choosing to do it in a particularly rabid way.

All of you are at that age where your testosterone levels are off the charts, but your friend’s behavior is turning him from Bulldog into Mad Dog! It’s unfortunate that some people consider this accept-a-bull behavior, because your friend is giving us bulldogs a bad name! You can always go to your coach and hope that he can kennel some of your friend’s aggressive behavior, but to do so would violate some trust between the two of you, and it might end up hurting your otherwise great friendship. You wouldn’t want to be banished from the pack for “unsportsman-like” conduct, but more importantly, it would put something between the two of you that you couldn’t be honest with him about.

If you really like your friend at all other times except on the field, maybe the best thing to do is just ignore him.  Showing a complete lack of interest in his teeth-baring antics may help cool the flames of his ridiculous behavior. If you do want to broach the subject with him, first reinforce the fact that you think he’s a great guy, and throw in a “’re an awesome ball player, but what’s with the ‘Mad Dog’ routine when we’re out on the field?” If you do it in a cool, calm and collected way, it shows that you’re just curious, and that it doesn’t really bother you... you were just wondering. Too much attention to the problem could just add fuel to his fire.

Sometimes bad temperament is an animal instinct that can’t be leashed or muzzled, and only leaves the rest of us wishing that “that animal” would get a good dose of obedience training. For your sake and the sake of the team, everyone here at “Team Zelda” is routin’ for ya.


Coach Zelda

Dear Zelda-

There is a co-worker in my office who seems to always get the attention from my boss and the men in the office.  She is VERY attractive and whenever I’m around her, I feel less-than-secure in myself.  I just think I can never be as “wonderful, beautiful, smart and sexy” as little “miss perfect.”  It’s just so frustrating. How do I work with her without feeling like the ugly stepsister? (By the way, I’m fit, fun and not so bad to look at.)

Miss Not-So-Perfect

Dear Miss Not-So-Perfect,

You feel like an ugly stepsister...yet you yourself say: “By the way, I’m fit, fun and not so bad to look at.”

Hate to say it girl, but you're sounding less like an “ugly step-sister” and more like a “glaring contradiction-sister.”

Now you seem to have a lot going for you… the trick is to realize it! Being jealous of a co-worker because she’s beautiful and gets a lot of attention is a little too “sibling rivalry” for the workplace, but it’s an incredibly common sentiment. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel attractive to the people around you, but if you want to compete with this boardroom bombshell, you need to work on impressing your colleagues with your skills as a professional, not just with your assets… elsewhere.

Now, take this girl who’s “fit, fun, and not so bad to look at” (ahem...I’m talkin’ about you), build up her confidence in both herself and her work, and in no time at all she’ll go from middle-management Miss Not-So-Perfect to Martha Stewart-esque multinational media maven (without the insider trading, of course). Sure a tight sweater with large ‘embellishments’ gets attention, and a bouncy hair flip with an idle giggle can garner a few groupies, but those qualities will look like window-dressing the day you score the big account for your company, cut expenses by half, or come up with that fabulous new marketing idea that grabs the boss’s attention.

Ultimately, results speak louder than looks.

The secret to getting from here to there is: seek out opportunities to shine in the office, and in the meantime, don’t be threatened by someone else’s qualities, least of all their looks. Your comely counterpart is not to blame for what the good Lord gave her. Just like you, she’s using what she’s got to the best of her ability, and despite the veneer of success, she is probably just as insecure as you are. Don’t be fooled; if something looks natural, it probably took some work. You might even take a few memos on the things you DO like about her, and try to incorporate some of those traits into your own style. (Just don’t go overboard… it can get creepy quickly, and we’ve all seen Jennifer Jason Leigh do the Single White Female thing!)

Bottom line: do your best to see people as people. It helps to break those invisible barriers that keep us from realizing our OWN strengths. Once you let your guard down, and gain some confidence in your own ability, you may find that this brainy beauty becomes the office “sister you never had.”


Dear Zelda,

What can you tell me about entering my dog in dog shows?  I have a gorgeous Afghan who everyone tells me should compete in dog shows. Yet, I don't have a lot of money and don't have any idea where to start. Have you been in any dog shows and what can you tell me about them?

“Best in Show?”

Dear “Best in Show?”

Afghan… now there’s a dog that was meant for show. Long, flowing hair, graceful gait, and gorgeous eyes that hypnotize. Heck, aside from the hair length, we could be twins! (Is that laughter I hear?)

“Best in Show” is one of those terms that has become a standard by which all other canines are measured. It’s the crème de la crème of the dog aristocracy and not something you “just do” on a whim. But you don’t have to make it to the very top in order to have fun showing your dog, and in fact, you may have more fun if you keep it simple and small, and just enjoy learning about the process and meeting other great people! In most shows, pedigree is the name of the game, and A-K-C are still the infallible initials that stamp your dog’s seal of approval (as well as adorning all of your new luggage, linens, and pillow cases…). Distance from ears to nose, muscle mass of a hind quarter, coat color, tail length, and the like remain the basis for deciding your doggie’s fate, while you try not to pass out in anticipation waiting for the judges to finish scrutinizing the nooks and crannies of your new “life’s ambition.” (That’s right...they even look at your dog’s crannies.) You’ll find yourself polishing things on your dog you didn’t even know existed.

My only question is why they can’t base it on the good stuff like hole-digging, ball-fetching, or my personal favorite, nap-taking! And give me one of those tasteless, tacky, and tattered rope things and I’ll go toe-to-toe in a tug-of-war competition with any blue-ribbon dog in the country. I’m sorry, but primpin’ me up in curlers and pins just to prod and poke at my belly and my chin(s)... I don’t think so. But keep in mind, I'm not your typical “prima dogga,” and some dogs really love to show.

No mater what, it can be a lot of fun, and it’s a great chance for you to really bond with your dog.Under ideal circumstances it’s advised that you start to prepare your dog while he or she is a puppy, between 8-10 weeks of age, to get them used to being around other dogs, being handled, and being groomed, all the while teaching them to keep their composure and “showy” demeanor. Special handlers, groomers, dieticians, and trainers can also be hired to ensure that your pageant pooch becomes a doggie dynamo. But wait, can you say KA-CHING? This little hobby can quickly become a runaway train of wallet- and life-consuming proportions when mixed with a little dose of ego, a dash of stage fright, and a pinch of threatening competition. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a college fund.

My advice is to start with a local show where you can have fun, learn the ropes a bit, and enter your beautiful Afghan without too much expense or expectation. To find out more about the whole process without spending too much money, you can order one of the many books that have been published for dog show beginners, including Show Me! A Dog Showing Primer by D. Caroline Coile. To get a glimpse of the upper echelons of dog showing, you can even order the 2005 DVD of the 129th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from Need more specific information? To find out more about dog shows for Afghans, check out the Afghan section of the AKC website at

Ultimately, remember to have fun with your dog, and try not to forget they were always “Best in Show” to you.

Good Luck Gorgeous!