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Dear Flora: Rescue Dog and a Cheating Quandary

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Dear Flora,

I have a pit bull that I rescued a few years ago. She's very sweet, but nervous around men specifically. My brother came to visit recently, and moved too fast toward her. Now he's telling the whole family how dangerous my dog is because she growled at him. I'm working with a trainer on her bad habits, but I don't like that my family is now telling me to out her down. How do I tell them off?

- Frustrated Dog Mom

Dear FDM,

Good on you for not giving up on your pup! Rescue dogs are often a great addition to the family, but they sometimes come with some special needs and habits to unlearn, as well as deep rooted trauma, just like humans. I'm not a professional, but it sounds like your fur baby has gone through something really tough that makes it harder for her to trust men.

You've already done what I would first recommend, which is calling in an expert. A professional trainer will more likely be able to help calm your dog's everyday fear of men, or at least give her a behavior to replace growling. I do want to stress how important it is to be consistent in the training, and to listen to your trainer's advice: it's often more about training the owner than the dog!

As far as your family goes, tell them what you're doing to help. Share with them what your trainer says, and give guidelines to help the family feel more comfortable. They don't have to come over, but if they do, you might consider giving the dog a place to hide out, if your trainer thinks it's a good idea. Eventually, she will become more comfortable with your family, and vice versa. Of course, always supervise any time your dog spends with them-- especially with children.

Dear Flora,

I've been dating my girlfriend for about a year. We don't live together, and she works a lot. Because we don't see each other every day, there's been cheating on both sides in our relationship. Now my girlfriend and I have fought about it a lot, but are thinking of getting married. But I can't get the girl I cheated with out of my head! Do I go after her, or stay with my girlfriend? I'm so confused!

- Confused Romeo

Dear CR,

First thing's first: don't get married to either one, not yet. It seems to me that your current relationship needs quite a lot of repair and rebuilding of trust to salvage, and a ring on the finger won't erase all the cheating. You and your girlfriend need to talk seriously about the future if you're really thinking of tying the knot, and that future cannot include cheating.

If you think it might suit you both, you might consider opening your relationship. But this requires the consent of all involved, and you must be completely honest in a polyamorous arrangement to be ethical. Be prepared to be rejected on this though: not everyone wants to go poly.

If you truly think the girl you cheated with is the one for you, don't string your girlfriend along any longer. But if you're going to break up, break it off completely: there's no going back after you split! If you take this route, endeavor to be more honest about your needs in the new relationship, and for heaven's sake, no more cheating.

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