Dear Dr. Spot,
My owner, who’s in the throes of an extended mid-life crisis, has been trying for years now to train us both for these ridiculous, human/canine dance competitions. She’s spent a fortune on lessons and entrance fees, not to mention hours of practice, which I detest. All this time and money leads to nothing but getting booted in the preliminary round. We’re the laughing-stock of the dog dance competition world!
What makes it worse is that she knew (or should have known) when she adopted me that I was a tad clumsy. The sign on my shelter cage was marked in bold lettering: ” Warning! This purebred Shih Tzu is sweet, loving…and a complete klutz”. And since I arrived home, I’ve knocked over countless vases and other expensive objects, gotten stuck in the commode, and even crashed into our television. I’m not much better in the outdoors—in the enclosed photo, I was just trying to avoid a bee and tumbled backwards. I wrenched my back and was laid up for a month!
How can I get my otherwise decent owner to give up on our dancing partnership without giving up on me, Dr. Spot?
Sheri, Altoona, PA
My Dear Sheri,
First, don’t be too harsh on the old gal. She’s trying to get you both out and about. And dancing, although I hate it myself, provides lots of physical and mental activity. But your point is well taken. If this attempt at dance stardom has been going on for years and you’ve never advanced past the preliminaries, it appears your owner may be delusional, or worse, insane—she keeps trying the same thing and expecting a different result. I’m guessing from your description that your owner is no prima ballerina either, so don’t feel too bad about your clumsiness.
Why don’t you try to re-direct her attention to something that requires a bit less coordination…like walking. Have you tried the usual manipulative tactics like pacing in front of the door with your leash in your mouth several times a day? Granted, these walks may not drain all her excess energy or totally calm her raging hormones, but they will help.
You’ll also have to take her mind off dancing. After you’re sure she’s sound asleep, throw out all her dance training manuals and every dance competition application in the house. Believe me, with her middle-aged hormonal imbalance, she might not ever notice they’re gone—especially if you immediately replace them with books and articles on the health benefits of walking with your dog. Try these titles to start: Forget Dancing: Walking With Your Dog Is The Best Medicine! by Tom Foreman, Beat The Midlife Crisis Blues By Walking with Your Dog, by Lulu Schwartzman, and How Walking With Your Dog Will Lead You To The Man Of Your Dreams, by Betsy Snodgrass.
Hope these ideas help you both, Sheri. Something tells me you’ll be off the dance floor and strolling with your calm, balanced owner in no time!