Patience (10/24/07)

Dear Zelda,

I too LOVE my job. I work at a high school aiding a teacher with Special Ed. students. They are the BEST! Now my teacher, on the other hand, is not. She teaches NOTHING to these poor kids who are losing out on an education. Yes, I did go to my administration and they are SLOWLY taking the proper steps to correct this. My question is....HOW DO I FIND THE PATIENCE to wait for the “hammer to come down?” (other than reading your website, which I do every Wednesday). Your pictures are the closest I think I’ll get to having an adorable English Bulldog. Thanks Zelda!

Hanging In There

Dear Hanging In There,

While it’s true that “patience is a virtue,” most of us suffer from the “I want it NOW syndrome.” That’s especially true when we’re waiting for something we believe in passionately, as is clearly the case with you and your amazing students. I frequently have to work on my patience too: there are days when I can’t wait for ZeeZee and Zoe to get tired of romping around and finally leave me alone with my beauty rest. Some days, I’ll admit, I lose patience, snarl, growl and even flip on the “bitch switch”. Unfortunately it always leaves me with a bad feeling inside, and it doesn’t solve anything. Negative responses rarely get positive results, and losing patience is something that needs to be handled with care.

Your situation is somewhat similar in that it requires a lot of patience, but think of it this way: at least in your case the administration in the high school is “SLOWLY taking the proper steps” to correct the problem with the not-so-special Special Ed teacher. By contrast, I don’t think ANYone is taking ANY steps to stop ZeeZee from springing onto my belly when I’m dozing and sunning myself in the afternoons. Can you imagine?

My advice to you is that you be patient with the process the administration is taking. I’m not saying you should sit back and be submissive (it’s far better to be the hammer than the nail), but am suggesting that you have the patience to persist in calmly and consistently discussing the situation with the administration until you see that your goal is met. If you still find yourself chomping at the bit (or barking at the door, as we say), try taking a more active role in the class, even in little ways. Come up with simple projects or games to do with the students, and ask the teacher if she’d be willing to let you try them in class on occasion. It sounds like she might not mind taking a break now and then, and it’d give you a chance to get the children excited, engaged, and learning.

One of my favorite “wisdoms” has to do with patience. “Survival is hanging on after others let go.” In your case, hang on tight, take care of those kids, and keep tabs on the progress the administration is making!

You can trust me on this one. You know, of course, that I was always the “teacher’s pet!”


Dear Zelda,

I need your help. I am engaged to a wonderful man who I love very much. The problem is…I hate his dogs! My fiancé indulged them as puppies and hasn’t stopped indulging them. They bark constantly, jump and drool on me when I’m wearing nice clothes, and still aren’t housebroken at two and three years of age. I have a well behaved dog of my own and spent a lot of time training him so I know that training takes time and patience. I’m worried that when we are married the dogs will come between us. How can I convince him to do something about the bad behavior of his dogs?

Doggone Mad

Dear Doggone Mad,

Don’t let your fiancé’s disaster doggies get caught in the middle of your upcoming marriage. They don’t deserve it! Their human owner, that “wonderful man” in your life, is the one who needs to be trained first. So teach him to “SIT, STAY, and LISTEN” when the issue is of real importance to you… and his dogs’ situation sounds important. I’m exaggerating, of course, but in fact learning to sit and listen to each other is important for both parties in any good relationship. It is critical that you and your fiancé arrive at some solution before you marry and live together in the same big crazy ‘dog house.’ Not to mention that these discussions are good preparation for thinking about how you might someday deal with the challenges of raising children together.

You can even make the solutions easy for him… try suggesting he enroll his dogs in a reputable doggy discipline school. Often stores like PetCo and PetSmart offer classes, and there are also a lot of great independent programs throughout the country. (Check out the Assn. of Pet Dog Trainer's website at This could even be fun, something you both do on Saturday mornings. Even if it’s not, the rewards of a peaceful house and drool-free dresses more than make up for the effort. Who knows, his dogs might end up as honor students or even class valedictorians!

There are also a couple of good books you might read together. Tamar Geller’s The Loved Dog has many helpful hints for turning dog training into a success using love, common sense and humane principles. Another expert in dog training is Cesar Millan, (Star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer). His book, Cesar’s Way, offers his very successful formulas for correcting common canine misbehaviors. Be firm but patient with your fiancé, and you’re sure to work through this issue. Just remember:

“Patience is a virtue,
Breed it if you can.
It’s seldom found in woman,
And never found in man.”

Okay, that’s kind of a “hang-dog” ending for my message of hanging in there and having patience with the pooches and their Pop.


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