Dear Zelda Wisdom Fear Factor bulldog humor advice therapy dog advice column

Rejection (1/25/06)

Dearest Zelda,

I have a friend who is chronically single. She's a great girl with good "everything." Good body, personality, career, house - she has it all. I've been trying to get a date with her for the last year. We play this game where she flirts ferociously with me yet she never accepts an invite to go anywhere. I'm ready, willing, and able at anytime, but all this rejection is wearing me down. Sometimes I think it's just a game and she's just playing me for a fool.

Am I nothing but a bench-warmer to her?

Time Out

Dear Time Out,

I think it's time for a huddle, and I'm calling a "flirting foul!"

In case you haven't read the whole playbook, let me clue you in about something that holds true for both dogs and people: when it comes to love, some of them can't resist a game of chase. Of course, chase is no different from any other game you've ever played. One person wins... and one person loses. That's why it's a game. Unfortunately, unlike most games, which end when the buzzer sounds, this one can go on endlessly with the winner manipulating the other poor, unsuspecting players with only the slightest effort. In this game, a simple "hello," a hug, or even a tilt of the head, delivered in just the right manner, can shatter the other player, rendering him or her defenseless.

It should be clear by this point that this is not a fun game to play. Swallowing rejections and evasions for an entire year is reason enough to find a new "team mate" and leave that "player" for some new, unsuspecting opponent. As you begin to pursue free-agent status, however, beware. Girls like your “friend” may thrive off your attention, and as she feels your flame beginning to cool, her flirtation may climb to new heights in an attempt to lure you back into your dependent puppy-dog status. Keep your guard up... it's the oldest play in the book.

You deserve better, and it will come. And you've answered your own question: "Time Out" is the perfect name... and the perfect plan.


Dear Zelda,

I have all your books and really enjoy them. I especially enjoyed the Blooper book. I could really relate to that one. This last year I wrote a children's book and would like to get it published. I went to a local bookstore and found the names of several children's book publishers. I've sent them copies of my book and all I've received back have been letters of rejection.  How did you get your books published? Should I self-publish? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I don't aspire to sell like Harry Potter, but I'd like to see my book in print.

Poised to Publish

Dear Poised to Publish,

Way to go! Just being able to actually COMPLETE a book is a huge accomplishment. Trust me, you're a lot further along than many people with plans to write a book. Often there's an abundance of aspiration and a dearth of dedication.

As for the letters of rejection, this is just part of the process. Getting my books published was made a little easier by the fact that my love-a-bull mug had already appeared on some greeting cards. But a first book by a new author definitely faces some hurdles, and it can take countless hours and many letters of rejection before you find your place. But there is a method THROUGH the madness, and it starts with some simple research.

Try visiting the Children's Book Council at This website can help to answer many common questions regarding how to go about getting your book published, as well as show you examples from authors and illustrators currently working in the field. It may also help you re-examine your book, in the event that it could use some minor "tweaking" and editing. This leads us to two very real considerations: whether to pursue the help of a professional editor, and whether to use an agent. There are some excellent children's book editors out there, and if you find a good one, they can be invaluable. Also, you have a better chance of getting your book noticed if it's presented by an agent who has established some rapport with publishers. Although agents receive a percentage, a good agent can definitely speed up the application process, and can be worth their weight in gold. Regarding both agents and editors, they're ultimately worth the time and expense only if you find someone you respect AND trust.

As for self-publishing, that is certainly a viable option. By self-publishing, you get your book out there without facing any nasty rejection letters or pesky "no thank you's." However, there are risks and drawbacks, most notably that you'll bear the sole burden of publishing, marketing, and distributing your book, both in terms of money and time. No easy task! But it is definitely done, and sometimes it's done very successfully. And, if time and money are not in short supply, this can be a very attractive option.

Don't be discouraged, you're on the right track, and from where I'm sitting, you're definitely poised to BE published.


Dear Zelda,

I'm writing you because my owner's boyfriend doesn't like me.  I hear him telling her that she should get rid of me. How can I make him like me? I'm a six-year-old male French Bulldog and I've been with my owner for five and a half of them. I think I'm charming but "the boyfriend" doesn't seem to think so.

Prince Charming

Dear Prince Charming,

What an un-charming predicament for a prince! I continue to wonder how people who are DEVOTED dog lovers manage to date people who are ADAMANTLY NOT dog lovers. I'm all for opposites attracting, but this has all the markings of a story bound to end in "happily never after."

So, what to do? For better or worse, Prince Charming, there really isn't anything you can do, as you are a dog. You are who you are, and that's that. But that's your charm! You just need to be patient with your owner and her boyfriend, and let your winning personality work its magic. Your owner is clearly very attached to you, and if "the boyfriend" has any sense about him, he'll realize that every time he tries to push you out the doggy door, he pushes himself a little further out the regular one! Congrats to your owner for sticking by you and resisting her boyfriend's pernicious pooch-pitching petitions!

So is there any hope for reconciliation? I say yes! Most guys are basically dog-lovers at heart, and your owner just needs to try and get past her man's obvious mental block. She should try to think about some activities that could bring the two of you closer together, even if these requests initially elicit groans from the significant other. Get her to get him to take you out on a walk by himself, or even go stay with him for a day when your owner is gone (as long as you trust him to treat you well!). Once you and he develop a bond of your own, you stop being just "my girlfriend's dog" to him, and I think he'll find it impossible not to fall head-over-heels for you.

Finally, tell your owner that the best thing she can do for you is stand firm in her commitment to keeping you, and express that clearly to her beau. Let him know that you're not going anywhere, that the conversation is getting old fast, and that this Prince can only deal with so much hassle in his castle. Once he realizes it's simply not an issue for debate, he's likely to accept it, and may even warm up to you a bit. It’s your kingdom so be yourself, and the man will come around.