Dear Dog Lady,
I have a 4-year-old amazing dog, Wyatt. I have had him since he was a puppy. I got him with my ex as our second dog. We just split up, and I got Wyatt. My ex got our other dog, Hank.
Wyatt has anxiety, and we’ve always had to make special accommodations to leave him at home. He had never been left alone for more than 10 minutes, and any time I left him, he’d go crazy barking and howling. He did fine when my ex left him for a little longer.
I’m bringing him to day care, which I can’t afford but am putting on my credit card. I can’t ever leave to run errands or do anything without either bringing him or dropping him off at my ex’s or day care. My ex brings Hank over a few times a week to stay with Wyatt to help out, which is wonderful. However, this isn’t a long-term solution.
I’ve never thought it would come to this, but I’m starting to wonder if I am the best home for him.
I’ve started him on some Prozac, but I’m having to really think about what happens if I can’t train him to stay home alone in the near future. I have JUST enough money right now to pay bills and stay fed. The idea of giving him up seems awful, and I don’t know that I could forgive myself, but I also can’t not have a life outside of being at home with my dog.
A: This letter is rather painful to read. In writing this column and hearing of people’s life problems — breakups and bankruptcy are the most severe — Dog Lady aches for the dog in the middle. And, clearly, your “amazing” dog is caught in the middle of your breakup and money woes.
Seems you’re flailing, and “some Prozac” is not a sensible solution. Why not talk it over with your ex honestly and openly? You adopted the dog together, and even though you got custody after the breakup, your ex still has a measure of responsibility.
Maybe your ex will decide to take Wyatt — a good solution. Maybe you will discuss putting the dog up for adoption, in which case you can research the best shelter together. Or maybe your ex will volunteer to help you out more.
In any case, find a solution because the more this goes on, the more you will resent and fear Wyatt, which is not fair to you or the dog.
Dear Dog Lady,
I just moved into a new house with my mom. Her boyfriend comes to visit with his dog, a big 109-pound German shepherd. When I went to pick up the dog’s toy, he barked and tried to bite me.
I’m afraid I will have to live in fear! I really don’t want to get bitten. Is there something I can do to have him trust me?
A: Yes, ignore him. Don’t feed him, walk him, try to grab his toys or worry the big German shepherd doesn’t like you. Talk to your mother and her boyfriend about the dog, and let them know what happened. Tell them you feel unsafe in your own home with the big dog.
If the boyfriend is half the man your mother thinks he is, he will handle the situation. He’s the one responsible for his dog, and he should be the one to help you learn to trust the animal.
Monica Collins offers advice on pets, life and love. Ask a question or make a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.