DEAR ABBY: You advised "Jealous of the Four-Legged Mistress" (Jan. 31) that her husband, "Monty," needs to "put her in a higher rank in the pack," because he pays more attention to "Ginger," the dog, than he does his wife.
My heart ached for Ginger. She's clinging to the one parent she has left and trying to make sure she doesn't lose him, too. Ginger and the other dog are suffering from separation anxiety. If dogs don't have a routine, they have a hard time learning to trust.
If "Jealous" wants to make friends with the dogs, she should take them for a daily 30-minute walk. She may have to walk them separately at first, but once they get used to it, she can walk them together. In addition, she should start feeding them. After a few weeks of this routine, I guarantee Ginger will start paying attention to her new mistress, and after a while, "Jealous" will find herself a permanent object of Ginger's affection.
If some chew toys and closed doors don't improve Monty's attention to his wife's physical needs, then it's time to see a marriage counselor. -- MAMA OF A RESCUED DOG
DEAR MAMA: Like you, many readers were unwilling to let sleeping dogs lie. They made no bones about offering helpful suggestions. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Many of the behaviors "Jealous" described -- following her husband around and being first to greet him at the door -- are perfectly normal. People keep pets for their devotion and affection, and Ginger is an example of what dogs do that produce rewards for them.
I think the real issue is that the wife is concerned her husband is more affectionate toward Ginger. She shouldn't blame the dog for doing what comes naturally. -- ERICA IN SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: Losing his first wife was traumatic not only for Monty, but also for the two dogs. Perhaps Ginger is more bereft over the loss if she was close to his deceased wife. Animals experience loss, too. Instead of feeling threatened, "Jealous" should talk to a professional who can help her learn to gain Ginger's trust, loyalty and affection instead of competing with her. It's possible "Jealous'" physical needs are being neglected because of her attitude. -- JAMIE IN RENO, NEV.
DEAR ABBY: Because dogs "love the one they're with," "Jealous" should spend quality time with Ginger. Take her for walks, give her treats and win her over with kindness. As a boarding kennel operator, I deal with clingy dogs all the time. It's my job to make them feel at home and develop a bond with them. Consequently, the pets I take care of love me as much as they do their owners.
"Jealous" sounds very insecure. She needs to learn a little about canines to understand that Ginger's behavior is acceptable. -- DOG LADY IN MICHIGAN
DEAR ABBY: I, too, had to race to the door to be the first to get my ex-husband's attention. I never won. That vindictive mutt wet only on my side of the bed. It grabbed the pot roast from the counter and hid under the bed, and when I reached under to take it back, it bit me! When I screamed in pain, the one who was supposed to love me best yelled, "Don't hurt the dog!"
I am now happily married to an angel of a man who puts me first. No woman needs to take second place to a dog. -- MOTHER OF EIGHT IN UTAH