Dear Zelda Wisdom Fear Factor bulldog humor advice therapy dog advice column

Problems (3/8/06)

Dear Zelda,

I'm engaged to a great guy who I have been seeing for the last eight years. He proposed last year and I wasn't expecting it. I thought we were going to just do the "Hollywood" thing and live together forever. We had both agreed we didn't need a piece of paper to prove that we belonged together. I do love him and want to stay together forever, but the actual "marriage" part of it is making me very nervous.

Should I take my nervousness as a sign?


By the way, I saw your Martha Stewart segment, you were awesome!

Dear Yield,

You know, there are tens of thousands of women out there who would love to be in your situation. Eight years of courtship without a proposal would leave most women feeling like they were eternally stuck in stop-and-go traffic, and conventional wisdom would say that you were just asked to join the carpool lane. Congrats! (On a side note, your dog does NOT qualify you to ride in the car pool lane...we found this out the hard way.) But then, who cares about conventional wisdom? The question is, are you ready to be driving at those higher speeds?

Nervousness is a common occurrence with any situation that involves commitment. Heck, getting cold feet is practically a national pastime for the male half of the population. But then again, you love him, he loves you and you've been together longer than most marriages last; all he wants is to make it official. Sure Hollywood romances are soooooo 2006, but you and I live in the real world, and in the real world a marriage solidifies that two people have committed something to each other that extends beyond splitting the grocery bill. He wants everyone to know that he's in love, he's found his soul mate, and he wants to make it official that, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in joy as well as sorrow, he promises to love you unconditionally for as long as you both shall live. That's a pretty good thing.

Do you really need the piece of paper? Probably not. True love will withstand the test of time, and with eight years already on your "odometer" you could very well continue down the road you're on, if you're both reading the same roadmap. But the fact that he wants to tie the knot suggests that any reluctance on your part may weigh heavily on him, no matter what he says. If you truly mean what you say, that you "want to stay together forever," then I'd say it's time to face whatever issues you have about marriage, discuss them openly with him, and then get past it. If, however, you are having genuine doubts about the relationship, now is the time to figure out what those doubts are, where they come from, and if they are serious enough to make you want to pull the car over and get out, or at least take a little roadside break.

Good luck, and always remember to check your blind spots,


Dear Zelda,

A girl in my office is telling some of our coworkers that I'm gay. She asked me out when I first started working with her and I said no. Although I'm not the type to file any type of lawsuit, I feel like I need to do something. I don't care whether someone is gay or not, but I do care if people think I am. Is that shallow? Should I go to human resources? I don't really like her, but don't want to be enemies either.

Straight Nate

Dear Straight Nate,

You're not shallow. It's natural to feel hurt when someone is spreading lies about you. Although name-calling should be left on the playground, it seems that some adults just can't help but make themselves feel better by putting others down. What your coworker doesn't realize is that by spreading rumors, she's the one coming off as shallow, superficial, and insecure.

Since this is a "private" matter, I wouldn't recommend going to human resources or your boss as a first recourse. If anything, your boss will appreciate you handling the issue on your own, which shows self-control and the ability to manage complex workplace issues. The way I see it, you have two options. First, you can take the high road and ignore her, make your friends elsewhere in the office, and hope it will eventually go away. (This is a no-bull choice, but believe me, it may be harder to say nothing than to have just one spoonful of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk.)

Or, you can take matters into your own hands and talk straight with her. Sit her down and let her know you're aware of her gossip and that it's not true (don't spend too much time trying to convince her you're not gay or she might think you're overcompensating). Tell her that while you're sorry you hurt her by saying no to a date, it is inappropriate and immature of her to spread personal rumors around the workplace. Remind her that you're both adults, and that you're hopeful this conversation will solve the problem. Be kind, be firm. . . and then move on. Chances are, she'll be embarrassed once confronted, and even if her reaction is one of surprise, anger, or denial, at some level she'll have to realize how childish her actions are. If she's smart, she'll come to the conclusion that it was pretty darn nice of you to talk to her first, and will hopefully retire her slanderous forked tongue.

Don't let the rumor mill grind you down!


Dear Zelda,

I have a problem with my eight-year-old yellow lab, Blondie.  Every spring she loses patches of fur.  I've taken her to several veterinarians and they all diagnose it as "seasonal alopecia."  One prescribed melatonin but it didn't work and every year the problem returns.  Have you heard of any other cures for this problem?

Clueless and Hairless

Dear Clueless and Hairless,

For those who are unaware, seasonal alopecia is a form of hair loss that occurs during certain times of the year, usually winter and spring, and its cause is not known although some believe it is due to a melatonin deficiency caused by lack of sunlight. The disease is only cosmetic, and usually occurs when a dog lives in an area, like the Pacific Northwest, where rain rules and the sun goes south for the winter. Cosmetic though it may be, you and your poor pooch have every reason to be a little disconcerted when patches of hair start falling out. You could always pull a Donald Trump and try to do the big comb-over, but you're going to need good bone structure, or at least billions of dollars, to pull that one off.

Although most veterinarians will recommend melatonin as the main source for fighting seasonal alopecia, as you know, it unfortunately doesn't work for every dog. Before you go join the hair club for dogs or start taking Rogaine baths, consider some more natural options. One potential treatment is called "light therapy." This doesn't mean "just a little therapy," instead, it involves exposing your Blondie to large doses of light for extended periods of time (up to 16 hrs at a time). Using basic 100-200 watt standard incandescent light bulbs for 15-16 hours a day during the seasonal time of hair loss is supposed to help restore the areas where the hair loss occurred. Think of it as a big ol' tanning booth where Blondie can slap on that sexy bikini of hers and lounge the day away dreaming of far off and exotic places, all the while promoting hair regrowth.

If all this tanning-booth time sounds a little intense, you could also just try to expose Blondie to a few more natural rays during the winter. Both Zoe and I suffered from seasonal alopecia one year, so the next year we went outside in the winter whenever the sun came out. I think that was only twice, but then, we do live in Oregon, and even that much seemed to help. If worse comes to worst, you can always get Blondie a gorgeous faux fur jacket (we love you PETA!), or sprinkle some grass seeds on those bald spots and water with care, and in no time flat you'll have your very own...Chia Pet!

Hair's to You,