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The politics of barking – Dog Abby

The politics of barking – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

Last year, I fell in love with a great guy. We are flying out to his parents’ house this summer. It will be my first time meeting them, and I want to leave a good impression. The challenge is, their political views are almost the exact opposite of mine, and they have been known to talk about them a lot. I don’t want to get into a debate with them right off the bat; I want to get us to know each other as people. What do you suggest?

Nervous in Nebraska

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Nervous:

When I was a puppy, mom taught me all kinds of things. Some she taught me for my own safety, like sit and stay and how to not pull on the leash. She taught me to wait and come and how to obey both vocal and sign language commands. She was proud of me, too, because I also learned to heal and wait when not on the leash at all. Other tricks she taught me were to be nice to people, especially kids. She taught me to shake paws and say, “please” and “thank you” in several languages. (Although, most humans say it just sounds like, “woof” because of my accent.) She even taught me fun things to make people laugh, like roll over, dive into water, bow, and other tricks. I get really excited when meeting new people, and I want to show them all of the things I know. The hardest thing mom has ever had to try to teach me (I am a pretty old doggy, and she is still working on it) is when to be quiet.

When I meet new people, most are nice to me, which makes me happy. Sometimes when I am happy, I want to show them all of my tricks at once, and my barking — even if I am just saying “please” or “hello” — sometimes scares them away. Mom tells me to use my inside voice. Other times, mom tells me to be quiet altogether.

The thing is, when I am in a new situation with new people, I learn a lot by just listening. I also make a good impression on them. One time I learned that the people we were visiting had kids that really liked dogs, but one of the kids could not hear. I got to show off my sign language skills and we became best friends. If I had been the one “talking” the whole time, I never would have learned something new.

Another time, we were at the park and a lady said that her son was terrified of dogs and we had to leave. Mom did not think this was fair, and she told the lady so. She asked why her son was so afraid of dogs and the lady said that her son was bitten by a dog when he was young. Mom was nice to the lady and told her that not all dogs bite, in fact, more people bite than dogs do. They talked for a while and the lady no longer wanted us to leave. Mom had told me to be little, so I had lain down flat in the grass and stayed there the entire time. Mom showed the lady that she could stick her hand in my mouth and I would not even try to bite. The lady thought for a moment, then asked her son, who had crept up behind her, if he wanted to touch me. The brave little boy nodded and I let him pat me on the head. We both learned that just because you believe something, does not mean it is true. Sometimes, if you listen to a different opinion and allow some grace, you will learn something wonderful. That little boy is still afraid of most dogs, but not all, and certainly not me. That was a big step!

You may have very different ideas about things, but you will never learn about anything at all if you are the one talking. Sometimes, being the one listening makes you the stronger one. It also shows that you respect others. If you disagree with someone, it is often better to ask yourself why, and then ask the others questions, too, so that you may both learn more. This can only happen if you are calm and quiet. If you are upset and loud, it will only sound like, “WOOF” to the rest.

Much love,

Abby

Be her Valentine – Dog Abby

by Mélanie Hope 0 Comments
Be her Valentine – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

I had a very nasty breakup and divorce a couple of years ago with a woman who I thought would be my partner for life. I have been keeping to myself ever since. A few weeks ago, I met a lovely woman at a church function. She was new to town and looking for people to connect with. Last week she indicated that she would like to have dinner with me sometime and said she was free for Valentine’s Day.

Abby, I really like this girl, and she has all but asked me out on a date for Valentine’s, but I am very nervous about doing this because the day is still emotionally charged for me based on my failed marriage. Should I give myself more time or should I call and make those dinner reservations?

Vexed in Vermont

Dog Abby paw print

Dear Vexed:

By the way you put the question, I think I know which way you are leaning. But since you seem to need that final nudge…have I got a story for you!

My mom met the man who is now my dad 8 years ago in January. Up until that point, Mom had had a long series of very bad Valentine’s Days. She had been broken up with, had friends and relatives die, and even had her cat set its tail on fire while her date was waiting for her! On top of all that, she had gotten a divorce from my first daddy, who left her on Valentine’s Day, so she did not really consider it a real holiday anymore. After first daddy, mom would just hang out with me on Valentine’s Day and not pay any attention to anything else outside of a wine bottle.

Even though dad had only known mom for a few weeks, dad decided to try and change her mind about Valentine’s Day. He even told her (and me) that he wanted her to have the Best Valentine’s Day Ever! He made dinner reservations at one of the best restaurants in town. Auntie Felicity did mom’s hair and makeup, and mom put on a beautiful dress and drove out to the restaurant. She says that when dad saw her walk in the door, he dropped his jaw AND his fork! Dad had bought her flowers, and surprised her with a heart-shaped diamond necklace which she still wears almost every day after all of these years.

It was the true beginning of their relationship, and it happened because they took a chance on each other. Maybe you will find something special with this lady, maybe not. But as my mom likes to say, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You will not have to be alone on Valentine’s Day, and you will have a fun time with a lady you like, even if it does not work out. The best that could happen? You will begin a new part of your life that will make you both very happy.

Pick up your phone and make that reservation. Good luck — we are all rooting for you.

Love,

Abby

It’s OK to step down – Dog Abby

by Abigail Hope 0 Comments
It’s OK to step down – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

My wife was promoted to a managerial position 6 months ago. I was so excited for her, as I knew it would give her a chance to shine. The fact that it would bring in extra money was an added bonus. Six months later, she is tired and disillusioned. She has been working 10 hour days, often going over a week without a day off. The owners have been piling on so much work that when she does take time off, she is still worried about her unfinished work. As a result, she never truly has time off to recharge, and it is affecting her health. And let’s not even talk about the team she supervises!

Abby, she is not the kind of person to step down from a job. She feels it would be a failure on her part if she did. But I know how miserable she is, and want to tell her that I think she should go back to her previous position or find work elsewhere. The extra money is no longer worth it. How do I approach this?

Concerned in Connecticut

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Concerned:

As I have often said, I like to play in the park next to our home. Recently I was chasing a ball, and I ran from the grass to a rocky area, and broke one of my claws really bad. I was unable to walk properly for a while and I certainly could not run! Mom slowly nursed my paw back to health and I am as good as new, but it took quite a while to get that way.

While I was getting better, I had a chance to relax and enjoy other things. I still got belly rubs and songs sung to me by my dad, I still got to cuddle my kitties Max and Phrytzie, and I still got fed good dog food and doggie bones when mom or dad came back after being away.

If I did not take the time off to get better, I would not have been able to take mom on walks this week or play with my kitties like before. Sometimes, in order to help others, you have to help yourself.

Daddy says work is important, but not as important as health. If you are not healthy, you aren’t going to be able to do things as well for yourself, your family, or your job. Maybe your wife can talk to her bosses and explain that the work load is more than she can handle, and ask them for help. If that’s not possible, tell her that it is important to give time and energy to other things in her life, especially the things that she enjoys. Offer to help her find other work, or simply tell her that it really is okay to go back to what she was doing before. My mom likes to sing the song “Accentuate the Positive.” I think that would be a good idea when discussing this, too.

Mom added that in her book, The Sniper’s Guide to Leadership, she discusses the importance of delegating. I do not know what that means, but it might have something to do with how Max would yell at mom if she forgot to give us our come-home treats. Usually I meet mom and dad at the door, but since I was not able to walk for a while, Max did it for me. It gave me the time I needed to get better and Max was more than happy to have such an important job. Maybe your wife could do this delegating thing with parts of her team so that she can focus on the more important things.

When your wife realizes that you are really looking out for her, I think she will do the right thing. Good luck!

Love, Abby

Left behind – Dog Abby

by Abigail Hope 0 Comments
Left behind – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

My son is stationed in the military. He called me before the holidays and said he would be unable to make it to my house for our annual Christmas dinner because he was working on a special project. Through a family member, I just found out that he instead wanted to spend Christmas with his dad, whom I divorced many years ago.

Abby, I would have been disappointed if he had told me his real plans up front, but I would have at least understood. If he was trying to protect my feelings by lying to me, he failed. I want to confront him about this, but don’t know how to proceed. Do you have any advice for me?

Mad in Madison

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Mad,

Back when we lived in Washington, we had a chain-link fence that I could see through easily. When mom and dad would leave without me, I would run out the doggy door and to the fence where it was closest to the carport. I would press my nose against the fence so that they could see they forgot me. When they would tell me that I had to stay and protect the house, I would give them my best sad eyes so they would change their mind about leaving me behind. This only worked once.

One time, I actually caught mom and dad trying to sneak out the front door after distracting me in the kitchen! They got all the way out to the car before I realized what they had done, so I gave them the saddest eyes ever. They still talk about how guilty they felt to this day.

I think that they were trying to do their best to make me feel better about them leaving me behind, even when it was in my best interest. Mom once explained that, most of the time, where they were going did not allow dogs, so I would just be stuck in the car alone not having any fun.

I think that my making mom and dad feel bad about leaving me made them feel they had to be deceptive, and that was kind of my fault. Now, mom and dad just tell me to stay and be a good girl. I do get disappointed, but they always come back, my cats and I always get come-home treats, and often we get to do walkies, too!

Maybe you pressed your nose against the fence too many times and your son is trying to make you feel better, just like mom and dad used to for me.

My cat Max likes to spend time with dad when he is home. He likes follow dad around the house, to sleep on the futon in dad’s office while he is writing, or to rest on the bed near dad when he is taking a nap. When mom is home and working, Max will hang out near her. Well…usually ON her…but that is another story… Neither mom nor dad feels jealous or hurt when Max is spending time with the other. They know that Max loves them both and will split his time fairly with them. Max gets upset, though, when his sister Phrytzie is taking his spot. But again, that is another story for another letter.

It sounds like you are not used to sharing your boy with your ex-husband. If he is as close to both of you as Max is to our parents, it is only fair to let him split time with you. Of course, I know that is not the big issue here. Being a dog, I am a very honest creature, and I am appreciated for it. I know that you appreciate your son when he is honest, and I can understand your being hurt and angry that he was not honest with you. The best thing I can recommend is that you are honest and direct with him, and let him know that it is okay to tell you anything — even if he is afraid it would hurt your feelings. Then, you must stay and be a good girl and do not make him feel bad when he takes you at your word.

You might want to arrange with him and your ex to alternate holiday celebrations with you, or to split them up, like Max does. This way, everybody wins.

All the best,

Abby

It’s just a job – Dog Abby

by Abigail Hope 0 Comments
It’s just a job – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

I was just offered a great new job closer to my home. When I gave my boss notice, I was expecting her to be disappointed. What I didn’t expect was for her to get genuinely upset. She insinuated (no, she flat out said) that I lacked loyalty to the company and to her. She’s a career woman, while I have always thought of my job as a just a means to keep a roof over my head. Her overreaction upset me to the point where we barely speak to each other. This is not how I wanted to spend my last week at the job. How do I make things smoother…or should I bother?

Flustered in Fullerton

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Flustered:

I know Mom and Dad have changed jobs before.  Every time they have, it was to make a better life for themselves and the family — the family meaning me and my kitties. That is more important than anything!  Even bosses they have left are generally happy for them. Even when mom is the boss and her employees leave, she is happy for them, too. It is part of being a grown-up human.

I’m sorry your boss is taking it so personally, because it really is not personal. Maybe you could tell her that. Maybe even tell her that you could still be friends after you leave. If you plan to continue a friendship with your boss after you leave, show her some act of kindness to indicate that it’s nothing personal. Maybe take her out to a thank you dinner or give her a plant or a thoughtful gift card.

When mom and dad moved to Las Vegas, everyone in Seattle was sad, but they still loved us. We were not moving away because we were disloyal or leaving anyone, we went because there were so many great things we were moving toward. All of our real friends still talk with us and sometimes even visit us! I get really excited when my friends and family come to my house, and no one is upset that we left, although we do miss each other. Those that did not care much for us, they do not call us, and we have forgotten them as much as they have forgotten us. That is OK, because we have made a whole bunch of new friends, too many to count.

If you think of your boss as “just a boss” like you consider your job “just a job,” I would not worry too much about how she is acting. After you leave, she will forget you and fade from your memory, too. Do not let her attitude affect yours or what should be a happy and exciting time for you. Congratulations on your new job, and good luck!

Love,

Abby

Pedestal pushing

Pedestal pushing

Dog Abby,

Why do we as people put others on pedestals then get all jealous because of what they have and we don’t?

Khristina in Kent

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Khristina,

We dogs tend to put ALL of our humans on pedestals, but that is just because they are so wonderful. There is nothing wrong with looking up to people, as long as they are worthy of being looked up to. If you are looking up to someone because you think they are wonderful, then you may aspire to be more like them, and this is a good thing. But, if you are looking up to them because they have something you want — and you just keep looking and never do any aspiring, then that is a bad thing.

I would like to say that jealousy is a strictly human characteristic, but I understand it all too well. Most of the jealousy I have experienced is brief — like when my cat Max is getting the tuna juice and I am not, or when another dog has a ball and I forgot mine at home. I usually forget about it right away and go on to other things. Maybe this is where humans and dogs are the most different.

I have learned that people are not good at living in the moment. Sometimes I will look in my mom’s eyes, and I know that she is thinking about her best friend, Lexy, whom we lost a long time ago. This makes her sad. Other times, I look in her eyes and can tell she is worrying about what might be coming. This can make her sad, too. I do not understand why she does this, though, when we could be having a happy moment. If she would just be there with me in the moment, everything would be fine.

Take it from an old dog who is recovering from a painful surgery and has to wear the cone of shame for the next few days: you will never forget the very bad things, and you will never recognize the very good things while you are experiencing them. If you could swap those two things, life would be a lot more fulfilling.

Maybe if you really thought about people that you put above yourself, you would realize a couple of things about yourself. One, they do not have anything that you cannot have. That is all up to you. Be happy that they are where they are and appreciate the moment that you are in. When you are ready, you can be more like the good things that those people are and have those same things, also. It will look different because nobody is exactly the same, and that is a good thing, too!

The second thing to realize is that to someone else, YOU are the one up on a pedestal. YOU are the one they are watching and want to be like, so you must the absolute best person you can be.

With love,

Abby

Golden Retriever in the cone of shame

 

Happy; Not Gay – Dog Abby

by Abigail Hope 0 Comments
Happy; Not Gay – Dog Abby

Dog Abby:

I was recently invited to a girl’s night out with a couple of co-workers. During the course of the evening, a co-worker blurted out that a rumor had been going around that I was gay. I was floored at hearing this, and managed to simply state that am straight. I held it together long enough to say goodbye, but I drove home in a rage. I realize that I am not the most feminine woman in the office, but this is ridiculous! I try to keep my personal life separate from my work life, and frankly, none of that is anyone’s business anyway! Do these people not have enough work to do? Or am I overreacting?

Angry in Altoona

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Angry:

I am always really happy when friends come to visit. When I get this happy, I get really close to them so they can pet my head and give me belly rubs. Dad calls this “getting up in their grill,” but I am not sure what he means. (I have heard them say they have dogs on the grill, but they have never put ME up there.) One thing Mom taught me when I was a puppy is to respect it when people say, “back off.” If someone does not want me that close to them, all they have to do is say, “back off” — they don’t even have to yell or explain why. I will then back to a respectable distance so my friend is no longer uncomfortable.

Because I am very red for a Golden Retriever, people often ask my mom if I am an Irish Setter. While I was born on St. Patrick’s Day, so mom says I am an honorary Irish, I am not a Setter, I am a Retriever. Mom lets them know and they usually just nod and smile, and we can still be nice to each other. I don’t get upset that they got their Setters and Retrievers mixed up, because we are just acquaintances and it was an honest mistake. If we were to become friends, then they would know me better, and it would not be an issue at all. As a dog, we get called “boy” all the time, even if we are not boys. I don’t get upset about that, either, because these are people who don’t know me yet.

It looks like your coworker got a little too close, and it is okay to say, “back off.” You do not need to be angry, though, because you already said you do not consider them friends. Friends would not spread rumors, so I recommend you don’t become friends, either. You do not need those type of people in your life. As far as protecting your reputation — who cares if people you don’t really know or care about are sure whether you are a Setter or a Retriever. When they matter to you, then it will matter to them.

Love, Abby

2018 Woofolutions – Dog Abby

by Abigail Hope 0 Comments
2018 Woofolutions – Dog Abby

In 2017, I took more than 200 car rides, almost 300 walkies, and even mom cannot count how many balls I have brought home. I got to play in my pool almost every day, I got to welcome a huge lot of guests to our home, and I’m still mom’s favorite model. And I got my very own advice segment on a real radio show! Overall, it was a very good year.

Mom asked me to write some resolutions that I might share for 2018, but dogs don’t resolve much further than what they can see in the moment (right now, I’m resolving on the ball that rolled under the couch). Still, I think the best advice I could give as a Golden Retriever might just be some good resolutions for human people, so here you go.

Golden Retriever and orange tabby hanging out at the pool

Hanging by the pool with my cat, Max

Don’t bite people or cats. They don’t like it, and most people don’t taste that great. Cats bite back.

When someone you love comes home, meet them at the door and let them know you missed them. It will make them happy they came home, and they’ll give you treats.

Walkies are the most excellent part of life. It doesn’t matter where you start or where you go, as long as go for walkies every day. Even little ones make you feel better. Plus, you get treats when you get back.

When you are happy, don’t hold it in. Dance, bark, wag, and wiggle. It makes everyone around you happy, too.

People love to touch you. Let them. There’s nothing more reassuring than a pat on the shoulder, a hug, or a rub behind the ears.

When people ask you to speak up, do it! There are always treats afterwards.

If someone is scared or sad, just be with them. Sometimes that is all you can do, and most of the time, that is all they need.

I hope this New Year is amazing for you! See you at the pool…

-Abby

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Dog Abby

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Dog Abby

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through my home

The cats hogged the bed while I wrote this poem.

The stockings were hung by the upside-down tree

Which was decorated with an ornament that looked just like me!

 

The house was all quiet, and I ran the show —

Not that anyone sleeping would know.

Dad snored away, like a hurt angry moose

Mom cuddled pillows in hopes of a truce.

 

When out on the carport I heard such a loud noise

It stopped me from yanking the stuffing from my toys.

I ran barking to the door in a frenzied hot rush

And barked until mom and dad both yelled out, “HUSH!”

 

So I turned and ran out the doggy door flap

Where the back yard was completely full of my…

Tennis balls…

The rotating light from the airport glowed bright

I sensed there was something strange going on that night.

 

I felt an odd presence, my hackles stood high

I looked on the roof and saw a strange guy.

He was dressed all in red; his hair was whiter than dad

He smiled down at me, so he could not have been bad.

 

In true Golden fashion, I invited him in

He said, ‘’what a guard-dog” with a big, goofy grin.

He said he was sorry for waking me up

I saw in his arms that he held a small pup.

 

I had heard of a Santa that came on this eve

And, as a dog, I did not know what to believe.

He didn’t have a sack full of candy and toys,

His sleigh had no bells and did not make much noise.

 

I didn’t smell reindeer (though how they smell, I’m not sure)

But he had the eye-twinkle and a heart that was pure.

The pup in his arms looked hungry and cold

I realized it wasn’t a pup, but a dog that was old.

 

“I’m looking for homes,” he said with a sad smile

“This dog has no family, and has been alone for a while.

It’s hard to find homes for pets that are older

And I’m worried as the nights are growing much colder.”

 

I told him about my friend who lived near

Her dog, Millie, had crossed over last year.

She’d be a good mom, and could use a new pet

But she had not brought herself to find one just yet.

 

He thanked me, then hopped back into his sleigh.

He said, “This will make two souls happier today!”

“What we need are more families with more love to give.

I’ll keep searching and matching for as long as I live.”

 

As he faded to a dot I could no longer see

I remembered how my mom had once rescued me.

This year for Christmas, don’t go into debt

Instead, use your blessings to rescue a pet.

Dog Abby paw print

 

Merry Christmas!

Love, Abby

 

The Presidential Pet Museum website has a fabulous list of dog rescue organizations by breed.

Clock Time vs. Friend Time – Dog Abby

by Abigail Hope 0 Comments
Clock Time vs. Friend Time – Dog Abby

Dog Abby,

I have a friend who is always late. I mean literally always. She isn’t just a few minutes late all of the time, she is sometimes half an hour or more, and sometimes she will call an hour or so after we were supposed to meet to say she is not coming at all. I have brought this up with her on several occasions, mainly because we also work together and it affects her job. She recently got fired for being late so often, and she wants me to stick up for her. I can’t. I believe she deserved it, frankly, and I was really hoping this would be an eye-opener for her. Since she is blaming everyone else for her firing, and refuses to admit that being 25-45 minutes late every day is an issue, I have a feeling that this may end our friendship, too. What should I do?

Always Waiting in Allentown

Dog Abby paw print

 

Dear Waiting,

Mom made a promise when she first adopted me that we would do walkies almost every day. She said there would be some times when she would be out of town or on something called a deadline, but she would do her best to toss balls or go swimming with me at least once a day. Mom has been super good at this, but the busier she gets, it seems the more difficult it is for her to keep her promise. I don’t think it is because she does not love me, but she has been really busy sometimes. Mom never made a clock promise to me, so our walkies can happen any time of the day or even the night. When she can tell I’m bored, she will sometimes say she is going to take me on a walk in an hour or a few minutes. Dogs can’t tell time, so hours and minutes are the same thing to us. It is only when we do not go at all that I get worried.

I sometimes will make my presence known by peeking into mom’s office, just in case she forgot. When I have waited a really long time, I remind mom about her promise by finding every tennis ball in the house and lining them up across the doorway so that she has to step over them when she gets up. Mom uses words like, “subtle” and “effective,” and I am not sure what they mean, but they typically lead to her closing her laptop long enough to take me to the park.

If it starts getting dark and looks like mom will not have time after all, I take my tennis balls to dad. If he’s busy, he may tell me to wait, but usually he will at least toss them down the hallway for me so that I get some fetching in. The noise and commotion is typically enough to get mom involved and we then all go for a walk together.

Walkies are different, though, than when mom makes an actual clock promise to someone. As I said, I do not understand time, but mom and her clients and her friends sure do. When she says she is going to be on the clock at a certain number, she will do that for them because she respects them. She expects the same out of them. When her friends or her clients say they will be there on a certain number of the clock, and they are not, mom gets frustrated because she has lots to do and waiting for someone to be late makes it hard for her to get not only their things done but all the other things she has to do. One of those things she has to do is go on walkies, so this affects me, too, and I do not like it. I will forgive them, of course, because that is what dogs do. Mom forgives a lot, too, but she also gets to a point where she does not trust that person and will no longer work with them. That makes sense. I mean, if you cannot trust someone to respect your time or their own promises, then what kind of relationship will you have?

You have tried being subtle, and it was not effective. Your friend has already heard a commotion even louder than tossing tennis balls down a hallway. They know how important this is to you and to everyone they work with, but they do not care. I do not think your friend is going to change, so I suggest making a new friend who respects the clock, respects themselves, and respects you.

Much love,

Abby

Buying Time

Time is money, but I’d rather have tennis balls.