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

Petty Things (3/22/06)

Dear Zelda,

My boyfriend and I do this thing where we both will refuse, until the last minute, to empty our trash can in the kitchen. It becomes a waiting game that turns into mounding garbage that turns into an argument. Every time! He thinks he always empties it...I think that I always empty it (and I do). The bizarre thing is, we share all the rest of the housework, but emptying the garbage becomes a test of wills. It takes 5 minutes to empty the stupid garbage...why is he so stubborn????

This Stinks!

Dear This Stinks,

That Stinks!

It sounds to me like you shouldn't be asking, "Why is he so stubborn," but "Why are we so stubborn?" You manage to cooperate on all the rest of the chores, but taking out the trash has become a real "stinking point" in your relationship! For whatever reason, this has become a contest of wills between the two of you; fortunately, there's a simple solution. Start by printing out a sheet that has both of your names on it, alternating back and forth, all the way down the sheet. Post the sheet on the side of the fridge and keep a pen close by, and make a rule that the trash has to be taken out at least once a week. You can flip a coin to see who goes first, and that person will be the lucky dog who gets to empty the first round of garbage. From that day forward it's just a matter of empty and cross, empty and cross. You eliminate your pet peeve, and you eliminate the argument of who empties the garbage most (we really do believe it was you).

Assuming you trust your boyfriend not to cross his name out prematurely when you’re not looking (and if you don't, then we have some more serious problems to talk about!), this should be a pretty easy fix to a pretty petty problem. After all, it takes about five minutes to empty the garbage, and let's just say that you have to empty it once a week; there are 10,080 minutes in a week, meaning it takes up less than 0.005% of your time. Although we all value our time, anyone would agree that's really a small price to pay for a fresher-smelling relationship.

Don't refuse the refuse!


Dear Zelda,

My pet peeve has to do with pets. I'm a dog owner, but this one just irritates me to no end. Why do people think they need to walk their dogs in places like Home Depot? I love my dog, but isn't there a proper time and place to walk your dog (i.e. PetSmart)? I actually watched one pee on a box of light bulbs at Home Depot.


Peeved All Right.

Dear Peeved All Right,

Isn't that how Benjamin Franklin's dog discovered electricity? My knowledge of history is a little fuzzy, I'll admit. But as a dog lover, you can understand why other dog lovers may want to keep their "best friends" with them even when they're shopping. In our busy work-a-day world, many pet owners don't have as much time as they'd like to spend with their pets. I myself have been to Home Depot on several occasions, as have many of my furry friends.  Unfortunately, you were a witness to one example of bad behavior, but for the most part dog owners are very responsible where their dogs are concerned.  As a matter of fact, Home Depot is often a training place for service and therapy dogs.  If a dog can learn to focus on their owner and not be frightened by forklifts, band saws, and bathroom fixtures, they can handle just about anything.

You do bring up a good point though, that as a dog owner, you are responsible for representing dogs and dog owners everywhere, and when Fido mistakes the box of halogen bulbs for a fire hydrant, it reflects poorly on all of us, and it's YOUR  RESPONSIBILITY to fix the problem. You're also right that there are some places dogs are simply best left behind...indoor restaurants and movie theaters top the list for me. In between, there are some gray areas, and as you suggest, if you're in doubt as an owner, it may be best to err on the side of caution. Ultimately, you need to know the comfort level and demeanor of your dog very well before you risk imposing him/her on others in any public place. We can all do our part to prevent light bulb abuse.

As they say, a dog a day gives the light bulbs a spray,


Dear Zelda,

I have a new boyfriend and my dog, Brutus, starts barking whenever my boyfriend kisses me. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but it's starting to get annoying.  It may sound "petty," but it is bothering us. Zelda how can I stop his bad habit?


Dear Smoocher,

It sounds like Brutus is just being protective, and he may not understand what your boyfriend is doing when he moves in for a smooch. You could always try to convince your boyfriend to sit down with Brutus and explain the facts of life, or more realistically, get your boyfriend to just spend some one-on-one time playing with Brutus. As long as your boyfriend remains a stranger to him, Brutus is going to be suspicious; the more time they spend together, the more comfortable Brutus will be, and the less likely he'll be to regard your boyfriend as a threat and raise a ruckus.

The other, more immediate solution (while Brutus is still getting used to the new guy) is to just keep Brutus occupied with something he likes. Keep HIM busy, and you and your boyfriend can get... ah, well...busy. While your first instinct may be to put Brutus in another room to keep him quiet, this may or may not actually work, and it will definitely make him associate your boyfriend's visits with getting locked up... not exactly the best way to make him take a liking to your new beau. Instead, just get him a toy that will keep him chewing for a long time. Start by checking out your local pet store; we particularly like the Kong brand dog toys and snacks. I'm partial to the Jawrobics Kong Dog Toy (try that one 5 times fast). Kongs can be filled and re-filled with peanut butter, soft cheese, treats, or Kong filler. We always have a few of them on hand (we fill up the extras and keep them in the freezer), and it's good to have them ready, so Brutus keeps his cool while you two heat things up. Don't worry, with a little bit of time and a few bribes, he'll soon forget all about you.

Kiss your troubles goodbye!