Here Comes Summer (06/13/07)

Dear Zelda,
While I'm big-boned and busty, I still want to look good in a bathing suit this summer. You're big-boned and sort of busty, but you're also a supermodel. Can you share your tricks with a small town girl who wants to flaunt what nature has given her?

Big-Boned, Busty and Beautiful

Dear Big-Boned, Busty and Beautiful,

You sound like a gal after my own heart! Heck yes, get out your sun-screen, grab your beach towel, find a sexy suit, and get ready to head for the beach!

First, however, let me say that being big-boned, especially as a supermodel, doesn't mean you can't also be fit. I'm big and I'm proud, but I also try to stay healthy. For me, that means running laps (okay, one lap) on a nearby track to trim off some of that winter insulation that seems to gather around my waist. So start by taking a good look in the mirror.  If you see 'love handles,' you can begin by making them look less like 'handles' and more like something to love. My real trick for staying buff, though, is to always keep moving.  Walk everywhere you can.  Climb stairs instead of taking the elevator.  Bicycle rather than take the bus. Walk in circles if there's nowhere else to go. Move move move. When you're feeling a bit more fit from all your movin' and groovin', it's time for my next piece of advice, which takes place in the dressing room.

Remember when you're trying on swimsuits, don't ask the sales person's opinion of how the hot pink thong bikini looks... ask yourself.  Only if YOU feel good flaunting what nature has given you should you buy that pink thong. And if you do feel comfortable wearing it, and have that much nature to flaunt, more power to you! As for the busty part, use good judgment. As I've said in the past, "all you need is a great set of coconuts." But understated is never underrated. Trust me, a great one-piece black swimsuit can look stylish, sophisticated, and sexy... just ask Audrey Hepburn. So buy the swimsuit that makes YOU feel good.  

The secret to balancing fitness and happiness is to be proud of what nature gave you, but still committed to taking good care of the wonderful body you've got, whatever its size and shape. Stay active, stay positive, and find yourself a knockout suit, and I guarantee it'll be a long, VERY hot summer.

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. 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?


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