Three months ago, my boyfriend rescued a 2-year-old, 85-pound, neutered dog from a shelter. I have a little 35-pound dog I love dearly. She’s been with me seven years. We wanted to introduce them because we want to build a life together. It didn’t go well. His dog attacked mine both times. I said this should be a no-brainer: If he can’t turn his dog around through training soon, he should get rid of it. He eventually agreed to work with his dog, but over the last month has just gotten more attached to it, and has been reading books that tell him his dog’s "doing nothing wrong." He finally said I’d have to risk my dog with his one more time, "just to find out." I can’t do that. Is a brand new dog all it takes for a year-long relationship to get derailed!?

– House Broken

If your boyfriend’s like some dog people, he may see what’s essentially an order to docilize doggie or else as something akin to you saying, "So, whenever I’m at your house, your son fights with my daughter … and she’s 7 years old, and you’ve only had him for two … " And the story ends with his kid on the Social Services doorstep with a note: "Sorry, my dad’s witchy girlfriend said I had to go. Hope you find me a nice couple."

Looking at this from your angle, here’s a man you must find sweet and loving (or why would you be with him?) and he basically suggests, "Let’s just see if my dog eats your dog." Didn’t Michael Vick go to jail for that sort of thing? And sure, there is that chance the doggies will sit down and have a little tea party and maybe even share a strand of spaghetti like in "Lady and the Tramp." But, according to dog trainer Brenda Aloff, "If the little female has already been scared by this bigger dog, the prognosis is real poor." Plus, Aloff, author of Aggression in Dogs, cautioned that introducing these dogs "is not a two-week process. It’s going to take you months; a six-to-12-month process" with "serious and close supervision" and "mutual cooperation" of both owners. Even then, there’s no guarantee you won’t one day leave your dog with his dog and come home to a collar and a pile of fur. 

What kind of guy suggests you just let him sic Cujo on Tinkerbell "one more time"? Well, maybe your little dog has saved you from making a big mistake. Then again, maybe it was a mistake you made that turned this into a standoff. Telling a guy what to do, even when you’re right – and you are right – is the worst way to get a guy to do anything. You emasculate him, and knee him in the ego, and your grown man comes out fighting like a little boy: "You’re not taking my puppy!" At that point, his dog could swallow your auntie whole, and he’d blame her for wearing an aggression-provoking housedress.

Assuming the guy wants to be with you and isn’t a jerk or an idiot, he probably knows his dog has to go. Try again, but instead of rubbing his nose in the solution, merely present the problem. Ask, "How do WE work this out?" Don’t announce, "Hup-two, here’s what you have to do!" I’m guessing he’ll find it easier to admit there’s more to this than "Gee, let’s mix my plaid recliner and your flowered couch and see how it goes." (In cases of dueling patterns, the loser gets dropped off at Goodwill, not the pet cemetery.)

You spite up my life

My boyfriend and I just broke up. When I asked how he was doing, he said, "In all honesty, I’m much happier. It felt like a weight off my shoulders. Looking back, I realize I was bored, never really loved you, and it was just sex that kept us together." I was shocked he’d be so hurtful. I’d never want another relationship with him, but I miss him, and some sort of friendship would be nice. Please advise.

– Devastated

People ask how you’re doing every day. I’m guessing you tell them "Fine, thanks" instead of "My underwear’s bunching up, and my doctor thinks a parasite might be causing my recent flatulence." What kind of person responds "in all honesty," when they can preserve somebody’s feelings with partial honesty or an outright lie? And what kind of person responds to a person who tells her, "Boy, am I relieved to be done using you for sex," by wondering, "Boy, what do I have to do to be your friend?" A far better use of your time would be figuring out why you’d look to such an unrepentent meanwad for "friendship." What’s the matter, your enemies too busy to ask what you’ll do for a face when the monkey wants his butt back?

(c)2007, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail (