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

Losing (6/28/06)

Dear Zelda,

Last month I was selected as Employee of the Month by the big retail company where I work. The problem I'm having is that the other two employees who were nominated have turned against me and are saying negative things about me.  When I was selected as employee of the month I felt like a winner and was proud and happy.  Now I'm feeling like the real loser. Any advice?

Winner or Loser?

Dear Winner or Loser,

There is no question that you're a winner; clearly you're the Best of Show all the way around. But as you have learned, every win comes with its share of loss. Here, the problem isn't you, it's the two other employees. Obviously they do NOT know how to lose graciously. No one likes to lose, and being a good loser takes character, which is something your coworkers seem to lack. But you know what takes even more character than being a good loser? Being a good winner. Being a good winner means not just being humble and gracious in victory, but also being forgiving to those who are jealous of your success. That doesn't mean you should just accept your co-workers' bad behavior and silently take their abuse, but it does mean understanding why they might be so jealous of you in the first place... after all, they've got a lot to be jealous of! Keep doing that fabulous work on the job that won you the accolades in the first place, and be professional in the workplace, even when dealing with your sniping coworkers. If it becomes a problem, talk to them about it directly. Sometimes all it takes is confronting the issue directly to clear the air and move on. If that doesn't work, and they continue to slander you, then it's appropriate to talk to your boss. You may lose those coworkers as friends, but with those kind of friends, who needs enemies?

In John McCain's recent book, Character is Destiny, he talks about how many of our heroes had to lose before they won. Think Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, or Nelson Mandela. They all had to do what they thought was right, and these heroes all lost many times, but when they lost, they learned from it, they stuck to their beliefs, and they moved on to win. It sounds like you've done your share of both winning and losing in this past month, and now it's time to learn from the experience, grow beyond it, and come out happy, healthy, loving your job, and still radiating that Employee-of-the-Month glow. Go get 'em!


Dear Zelda,

My husband and I are in our 50's and are semi-retired.  While I get my exercise hiking, my husband loves golf.  He wants me to take up golf, but every time I've tried, I am terrible.  I can't imagine spending my time playing a game where I will always be the loser.  By the way he doesn't like to hike and tells me that golf is a good compromise. Any ideas?

No Green Thumb

Dear No Green Thumb,

Golf is a great game, and I know many obsessed golfers.  But as you point out, it's a lot easier to love golf when you're good at it.  For the rest of us, the game can be an enigma at best, and a day-long exercise in self-punishment at worst. But never fear, I have a solution for you that should satisfy your need to hike and your husband's need to be on the green.  

Your problem, it appears, is that you're not good at the game, but you still want to be competitive. The ball goes too far, it doesn't go far enough, it goes to the left, it goes to the right, it goes in the water, or it goes in the sand. Basically, it goes anywhere it's not supposed to, and it definitely doesn't go in the hole. So, if your goal is to play a great golf game, get rid of the problem... the ball.  My owner has played "no balls golf" for years, and she loves the game. It's just as easy as it sounds... go play golf with your husband. Take a wood, an iron and a putter. Go out to win, and bring all your gear, just leave the balls at home.  You'll  get the exercise, and you'll be able to spend time together. Let your husband play with the balls...that's just par for the course. Meanwhile you can be content to walk, swing as you please, and end up with whatever 'winning ' score you want. Then, if you decide along the way you'd like to start taking a few shots with a ball, go right ahead! With "no balls golf" you have nothing to lose, and you can just go out and enjoy the game.


Dear Zelda,

July 4th is quickly approaching. Although I am a mature and intelligent seven-year-old Boston Terrier, it shames me to admit I am terribly afraid of loud noises created by FIREWORKS. I feel the same way about THUNDERSTORMS. Furthermore, I am totally petrified of LIGHTNING. I cannot recall an incident from my early puppy hood that would have instilled such an onerous fear in me. I shake and shiver, and my prominent brown eyes feel as if they are going to pop right out of my head from fear. I refuse to go out for a walk, or eat food until the noise has abated.  Meanwhile, I pace and pant, and lose lots of my fur.

This behavior has my human very upset, and she tries to soothe me and talk to me rationally, but logic goes out the window when it comes to fireworks, lightning and thunder. Can you advise my human and myself how best to cope with this situation?

'Fraid of Fireworks

Dear 'Fraid of Fireworks,

Hot dogs and fireworks make a great combination on the Fourth of July, but that doesn't mean that real dogs and fireworks were ever meant to mix. You, my friend, are not alone.  Every year many dogs (and cats, and birds, and any other animals with any sense about them) experience fear and confusion on this holiday. Seriously, who wants to be surprised by bright lights and loud explosions when no one even bothered to tell us what was going on in the first place? Well it may be a little late this year, but your owner can still try to prepare you for the fireworks on the Fourth, as well as help you manage your phobia problems with thunderstorms and lightning.

For one, there are specially made recordings of fireworks and thunder that can be used to train you not to react to the noises. A CD with instructions can be obtained from You need to start the CD quietly, and gradually increase the volume over the course of a few months. It may take from three to six months to complete this kind of training, and you may need to continue the desensitization indefinitely. However, this kind of treatment can be very successful when used over time.

But the Fourth of July is just around the corner, so here are some other short-term tips to help ensure that you get through this year's fireworks without too much hair loss. First, stay indoors during the fireworks. We dogs have such acute hearing that fireworks sound like volcanoes exploding to us. Second, get your owner or someone in the family to stay with you during the fireworks. It's best if she remains cheerful and in control. Tell her that soothing and comforting you will only increase the problem. It will either make you feel like she's scared too, or you might interpret her soothing as a reward for your behavior. Third, stay in a room where you feel safe.  A crate is a good place because it feels like a den. If you have your favorite toys and a Kong filled with something yummy, all the better. It's always best to have the windows and curtains closed as well. Fourth, I always like the TV tuned to the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, which distracts me from the loud noises outside. If Bach suits you better, go for it. Finally, be sure that you are wearing identification. Many pets have run away from home and become lost during firework displays. Not that you'd do this, you picture of calm and composure, but it's a good idea to be prepared in case the spirit moves you.

So my friend, get out there and celebrate the 4th of July, canine style. Picnics at the park, long before dark, are a lark with a bark! Did I really just say that?