Dear Dog Lady,

I have this subconscious habit of showering my shepherd mix, Emma, with a string of sappy nicknames. I rarely call her by her given moniker. She’s become my “darling-angel-baby-honey-bear-lambiekins-whatever.”

After I started dating Tom, he seemed a mite miffed when I prodded Emma along on our walk by urging, “C’mon, sweetheart,” and he answered, “OK.”

When Tom realized I was cooing to the dog and not him, he pouted and asked: “What name is left for me?’’

Good question.

Mary

A: Dating is a subtle art. Best to stifle the terms of endearment toward Emma — at least until you’re over the initial intimacy phases with Tom.

Naturally, when you’re alone with your dog, you can deluge her with “darling-angel-baby-isms.’’ But, when Tom is around, put a lid on it. If you like the guy and want the relationship to have half a chance, you don’t want him to feel he’s jostling for sweetheart status with the dog.

 

Dear Dog Lady,

Do you have any advice for dog stepparents like me? When I fell in love with Bob, I had no choice but to love his dog, a shepherd mix named Aynsley.

Bob and I got married, and we all live together as man and man and dog. But Aynsley is much more Bob’s dog. He immediately jumps to Bob’s commands. On walks, he will always look around to see where Bob is.

I often joke that even if I stood next to Bob shaking a slab of juicy meat, the dog would always go to Bob first. Why is this? Is there any way to teach an old dog to love me, too?

Paul

A: Your question strikes a chord with anyone who falls in love with someone who loved a dog first. The simple answer is “no.” Nothing personal, though. Bob’s bond with Aynsley was sealed before you entered their , and the link is unassailable — at least in Aynsley’s dogged brain.

If you took over all the feeding, walking and treat giving, you might become the center of Aynsley’s world, but Bob, whenever he is present, would always command the dog’s primary attention.

Please don’t take Aynsley’s scattered affections to heart. That’s easy for Dog Lady to say, but, really, you can enjoy all the benefits of being friends with a dog without bearing all the responsibility for the dog. Surely, you can see the goodness of this.

Monica Collins offers advice on pets, life and love. Ask a question or make a comment at askdoglady@gmail.com

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