Ask Dog Lady: Should I pretend I don't have a dog?

Monica Collins

Dear Dog Lady,

I got divorced a couple of years ago. My two kids are off living their own lives. I’m home with the dog, which is fine because I love my dog, Scruffy. He’s a great companion. But even you would agree that dogs are no substitute. I can’t imagine that I’ll never be in love again.

I was pretty shattered after my marriage broke up, but now I want to meet people. I’ve asked friends to fix me up and I have been going out. So far, it’s been pretty discouraging. My date’s face glazes over whenever I talk about the dog. I’m wondering if these men imagine I’m a lonely, eccentric “dog lady” (sorry). In the dating game, should I pretend I don’t have a dog?

Bella

Dear Bella, faking is no way to win a fella. You want someone to fall for you because of who you are and not because of who you are not. It makes no difference what glazed-over strangers think about you. What matters most is how you think of yourself.

You have nothing to hide, and Dog Lady (Mr. Dog Lady thinks she’s wonderful) encourages you to speak openly about Scruffy. If you want to share your heart with someone, the dog occupies an important chamber. But you shouldn’t wax too rhapsodic about your pet. Similarly, you shouldn’t brag too much about your kids, or over-analyze your childhood traumas, or bad-mouth your ex-husband. Keep the sharing violations to a minimum.

In the primary stage of dating, you want to be yourself but you also want to keep a dignified distance. Remember, you’re the one who should be impressed and wooed. If you figure out that someone doesn’t like animals, this pet-less person might not be the man for you.

Middle-aged dating can be a drag, but don’t let it drag you down. As long as you keep moving, you leave all the indignities behind. The rewards for slogging are many. Just one healthy spark in the eyes of a man who’s genuinely interested and all struggles subside.

Dear Dog Lady,

I have Sadie, a border collie mix. I’ve heard border collies need a lot of exercise or a job. What does it mean to give her a job?

Judy

Dear Judy, if you have rolling acres and a flock of sheep, it’s a cinch to find a herding gig for your border collie mix. Without these, the task is somewhat more challenging, although domestic dogs adapt remarkably well to various jobs, including Frisbee catcher, agility course runner, squeaky toy chaser, and ball jumper.

Giving jobs to dogs simply means to train them for gainful employment in pursuits that pique their interest. What is Sadie’s passion – beside eating and sleeping? Sporting with squirrels, galloping after rubber balls, or playing games of their own design, dogs inevitably craft careers based on their temperaments. Do you want Sadie to fetch your slippers? You merely have to train her, and reward her again and again for a job well done (liver chunks are big paychecks in a dog’s world). Voila! She’s a working girl.

Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her Web site is www.askdoglady.com. Contact her at askdoglady@gmail.com.