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Stop love from going to the dogs

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My girlfriend, who's been on her own for six years since her divorce, has a five-year-old black poodle who's strange. I usually like dogs, but he does things like knocking over the laundry hamper and carrying her clothing around in his teeth, which I think is weird. It seems like the dog is "in love" with her. I have a nice old Labrador of my own who's well-behaved, not like this one. Her dog is so spoiled, he'll go get her car keys and she'll drop everything and take him for a ride. If we're reading the paper together, the dog will smash the paper with his feet and jump right in the middle and start "kissing" her face. If she tries to push him off, he growls at her, and she relents and lets him stay. We are a new couple of three months and the honeymoon stage is already over. There is nothing wrong with her except for the damn dog. I hate to give an ultimatum like "me or the dog" and I don't really want to lose her. She's the best girlfriend I have ever had. -- Second Fiddle to a Dog, Tuxedo

Dear Second Fiddle: Both of you have been kowtowing to her dog. Often, bad canine behaviour is the fault of the owner. Dogs need boundaries and training, and this dog clearly hasn't had any. He was the substitute boyfriend and he was indulged and treated like her one and only love, until you came along. But you're not setting any boundaries with the dog or the girlfriend, just complaining. So why are you still sitting there on the sofa when this happens? You should get up with her, break up the scene, and request that she put the dog in another room. Then sit down together again. As for letting the dog carry clothes around, a bag on the back of the door hook would end that nonsense. Take a big breath and tell her she needs to get obedience training for the dog, and reading a book about it isn't enough. You might want to go too, and help pay, if this is going to be a serious relationship for you two. She may be angry for a short time, but there is power in a truth for rational people. She might simmer down and go for the lessons. This may be the first time she's had complaints about her relationship with the dog, if she's been totally alone.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My girlfriend bites my chest like a vampire wannabe. We are both 18 and into vampire movies. At first it really turned me on, but now it seems to me she's just marking territory. I mean, would another girl come after me if they saw that? I told her to stop doing it and she was really hurt and cried and said, "You don't love me." I don't know why she cried. I do tell her I love her but I'm tired of being bitten by a vampire. -- Bitten Too Much, St. James

Dear Bitten: She cried because she wants you to belong to her, and feels she needs to ward off competition. If she has reason to be insecure -- you don't love her and she adores you -- then it's time to say goodbye and set her free to find someone who really loves her. Even if you do love her, think twice about attaching yourself to an insecure and possessive girlfriend. These could be the first signs you'd be in for a difficult long-term relationship. A partner who questions your love and wonders if you're cheating on her when you're out of sight can grow into a huge problem.

Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email lovecoach@hotmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2011 D4

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