Q: I am a single woman, never married, 50-ish. Almost six years ago, I adopted a puppy, and my dog changed my life. I know you've heard it all before, but my Muggles, a rescue husky/Lab mix, got me out of myself enough to meet a real man. I'm still adjusting.
Recently, a friend called and invited me and my "beloved" for dinner. I thought she was really sweet to include Muggles because many dog-less friends make it clear they do not want animals in their homes.
Imagine my surprise when Muggles and I showed up, and my friend groaned as she opened the door. "You brought your dog?" she asked in disbelief. "I told you to bring your 'beloved.' I meant your new boyfriend," she said. I was rattled. I haven't yet told my guy that Muggles is still uppermost in my mind as my "beloved." I fear I've lived with my dog for so long I can't allow a human into my heart. What do you think?
A: Keep your sense of humor. There is nothing wrong with you. You have just lived with a dog for more human years than with a person. One of your most attractive qualities is your affection for your pet, although your bond with Muggles could be a mystery to your new boyfriend if he isn't a "dog person." The more time he spends with you and your dog, the more he will understand.
You're working out a new romantic dynamic. Don't rush. Remember when you got your puppy? It probably took months for you to adjust to Muggles. So it is with your human sweetheart. There will be tension, but communication, understanding, biscuits and laughter will help you grow into any relationship.
Q: My 9-year-old collie pants all the time. I have spent close to $7,000 on different vets. Her heart and lungs are OK. She does not have Cushing's disease, and we had nose biopsies showing she had a nose bacteria, which we gave her meds for. The veterinarians are at a loss. I know you are not a vet, but I was wondering if any of your readers have experienced this problem with any of their dogs. I don't know how to proceed from here. Can this panting, even when it is a moderate temperature, be a normal happening in some dogs?
A: Seems your sweet collie has been poked, prodded, medicated, and biopsied up and down the wazoo. You deserve praise for seeking out veterinary care and paying the bills. Now, let her relax. Often, when a dog pants and appears anxious, the best cure is a good walk in the sunshine, a run in the park and a marathon sniff around an odoriferous venue. Your collie needs fresh air away from the doctor's office.
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Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her website is www.askdoglady.com. Contact her at email@example.com.