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



Any Questions...? (12/20/06)

Dear Zelda

I recently lost my twelve-year-old Golden Retriever and the house simply isn't the same without him. I am considering getting another dog, but don't want a puppy. I would love to give a 'lost' or abandoned animal a loving home, but don't know how to find one. Do you have any suggestions?
 
Empty-Nester
 
Dear Empty-Nester,
 
You're hearing this straight from the dog's mouth: Canine adoption is a great option! I personally love groups like the Humane Society, the SPCA, and rescue organizations that save the lives of millions of adopt-a-bull dogs, cats and other animals. These guys do really great work, and anything we can do to support them... from adoption, to volunteering, to donation... we should. Let me tell you about one organization I really like
 
In 1996 Betsy and Jared Saul came up with the idea of Petfinder.com as a means to do something for homeless animals and to pull together animal shelters around the world. Betsy and Jared weren't active in the animal shelter community, but they did know about computers and graphic design. Petfinder.com is the result of their hard work... an online database of homeless pets in the care of about 10,000 animal welfare organizations in the US, Canada and beyond.  In its first ten years, the site has facilitated more than ten MILLION adoptions! And at any one time, around 200,000 pets are listed. Several of the animal welfare groups that post their rescued, lost or abandoned animals on Petfinder.com say they have more than doubled their adoptions as a result of the service.
 
So, in order to fill your empty nest with the very best, why don't you check out Petfinder.com? You can search for another Golden Retriever if you want, or browse the various breeds, mixed and otherwise. The site will search by kind of animal, breed, gender, size and age, and the results of your search will be ranked in proximity to your Zip Code. When you register with Petfinder.com they will e-mail you with updates that match your search.  Each shelter and rescue group listed has its own home page and pet list on the site, and the animals also have their own home pages with a description and, in most cases, a photograph. Pricing for the animals varies, and is designated by the shelter organizations.
 
Incidentally I have a human friend who adopted a wonderful dog, Lily, through Petfinder.com. According to her,  the process was easy. Lily is the perfect dog and a wonderful companion, and now she has a new canine friend for life. Lucky her, and lucky Lily!
 
What a great idea the Sauls had way back in 1996, and what a great impact it's had on thousands of people and pets around the world! Petfinder.com receives my official nomination for this year's 2006 No-Bull Peace Prize!
 
Zelda
 
Dear Zelda,
 
My boyfriend and I broke up and I don't know how to get over him! What should I do?
 
Desperate
 
Dear Desperate,
 
I've found there's only one remedy that dependably works to cure a broken heart.  Take a full glass of tomato juice, add a tablespoon of honey and two dried herring, a dollop of pickle relish and two scoops of hot chocolate mix, add a squirt of Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of melted butter, finish it off with a pinch of dog fur (bulldog, preferably) and drink it upside down in the snow. Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? But you know what? If we could actually cure the pain and suffering of heartbreak so quickly, we'd all be outside chugging, no matter how foul the brew!
 
Heartbreak is hard. We've all been there, and if you could find such a magic cure, even one as gross as my horrible heartbreak homebrew above, you'd get rich selling it. Of course love isn't easy, and love-loss is even harder, but at some point you have to recognize that YOU have choices to make as to how you’re going to  live with this suffering. You can cry because he's gone, but you can also smile because of the times you shared together. You can look back and be sad that he is no longer with you, or you can look back and be happy with your memories. You can curse and close your mind to tomorrow, or you can smile now and then, be open to love, and get yourself ready to move on. In reality, of course, you'll have to do all these things in order to move on. But you've loved once, and you can love again. It may not happen soon, and you may first need some time and space to digest your emotions, but the time will come when the hurt starts to hurt not-quite-so-much as before. In the meantime, you can help this process along by finding something to do with your time other than pine over your loss: get involved in a school group, wrap yourself up in a project at work, or join a sports team, to name a few. None of this stuff may sound very fun right now, but trust me, you'll be happier in the long run if you force yourself to engage with the world without spending too much time alone in the doldrums. Just remember, life is long, and it's a privilege to have the chance to love another person at all. All loves end at some point, and for this love, it sounds like its time had come. There'll be plenty more chances in the future. Until then, you can always count on plenty of licks and hugs from team Zelda.
 
To borrow one of my quotes from Zelda Rules on Love, "Don't cry because it's over. Grin because it was so good."
 
Zelda
 
Dear Zelda,
 
Please help!! We have an English bulldog - eleven months old. He has had several health issues - cherry eyes, umbilical hernia, soft palate surgery, etc. He was a very loving puppy in the beginning of our ownership, but now, within the last six weeks, he has become very jealous. When I get close to my husband he snaps and bites at my feet. When my husband is not in the same room as I am with the dog, he makes no attempt to bite or become aggressive. What can we do to correct this problem? We love him very much, but this is frustrating!! Thank you so much,
 
Bitten but still Smitten
 
Dear Bitten but still Smitten,
 
It sounds as if your precious puppy hasn't had an easy start in life, and in the process he may have developed some very deep and very real insecurities... just like humans who are frightened when they don't understand why bad things are happening to them. Love helps the healing process, and my first suggestion is that you spend some one-on-one time with your puppy taking walks, snuggling and playing.  Also, makes sure your husband does the same, both together with you and by himself. This will teach your pup to trust both of you, and that he doesn't need to attack you in order to get your attention. When dogs trust you, they listen to you and obey you.
 
By the same token, however, you also need to use a little of the hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you. Now I'm not suggesting that when your puppy starts snapping you turn around and bite him! But you need to let him know that his behavior is definitely unaccept-a-bull, and that YOU are the leader of the pack. When he starts biting or snapping at your feet, tell him "NO" with a very firm voice and make him "lay down" and "stay." Most importantly, you need to be consistent at this. I repeat, it is very, very important that you demonstrate to your dog that you are in charge. Once he "lays and stays" you can release him and reward him with lots of praise and attention.
 
Of course at only eleven months your dog is still a puppy, and puppies in general have a very strong need to chew, and a not-very-strong need to listen to commands. Also, it's worth remembering that biting is part of chewing. So make sure you fill that need to chew in other positive ways, and that especially when you and your husband are in the same room, your puppy has several chew toys to distract him. My favorite chew toys, as many of you know, are the ones you can stuff with something tasty like peanut butter and blue cheese. Fill a couple of these chewies and your puppy probably won't even notice that the two of you are in the room!
 
My last bit of advice is that you enroll your little ankle-biter in an obedience class designed especially for young puppies. Together with other puppies, your pooch will learn to become better socialized.  A good trainer will also teach him when chewing is acceptable and when it isn't. Pretty soon, even your tendon-tenderizing terror will realize it's just not right to bite!
 
Zelda