Life Advice



Barton Goldsmith: My dog has a favorite person, and it's not me

By Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

I rescued my little Foxy several years ago. I wasn't looking for her, but she just crawled up on to my lap and went to sleep, so I took her home. She spent the night with her head on my pillow, and I knew she belonged with me.

It wasn't all green grass and fire hydrants. She had been abused, was not socialized well and not trained at all, so we walked and worked every day to give her the most comfortable life possible, and she adapted pretty well.

I was her person. She didn't really like other dogs or people...until I met my to-be wife. The day Angelika came over to visit for the first time was the last time Foxy was truly my dog. She abandoned me for the love of a tender woman, and who can blame her? I would have done the same. Then Angelika and I got married, and we're a happy family.

We always walk together, the three of us, through our village, in and out of the greenbelts and pathways, from the hills to the lake — we cover a lot of ground almost every single day. My wife holds the lead, and I get the poop bag, but it's all good. We get exercise and have fun, because Foxy enjoys her walks and prances through the neighborhood like a 10-pound prize pony.

How sweet and lovely, you say, but there is a dark side to the furry little mongrel! Foxy is now a one-woman dog — she has totally bonded with my wife and won't go for a walk at all if Angelika is out. She just lies in her bed by the window waiting for her angel to walk through the door, and I have to tell you, I'm feeling a little rejected. But it's pretty cute.

When mom gets home, the dog runs, barking into my office, so I know to go to the door. She shakes from tail to nose and literally squeals with joy so loudly, you'd think she was in pain. It's a remarkable ritual that goes on for several minutes until the dog-child needs a drink.


I understand animal bonding. My therapy dog, Mercy, was with me for over a decade, and we were a total item. In fact, it wasn't until Mercy died that I decided to remarry. That's how much unconditional love she gave me. She was ill for a year before she passed, and we went to the vet every single day for IV fluids. At that time, my life was truly dedicated to her, and she deserved it.

Now my wife is getting to experience that kind of bond for the first time. You can have a very deep connection with a dog or a cat. Young or old, big or little, when your dog finds you, it's an amazing experience, and the love you feel doesn't take anything away from anyone else — it just makes your life sweeter. This may be why there have been so many more adoptions of so-called pandemic puppies.

I need to mention here that when you adopt an animal, it is a lifetime commitment. It doesn't end when the quarantine is over or you go back to work. Too many people give up their pets when life gets inconvenient, but by that time the animals have bonded with them, and it just isn't fair to the dog or cat. It breaks their little hearts, and it is traumatizing for them to be back in a shelter. If you do adopt, remember it's for life. And if your pet falls for your other half, just enjoy watching the love.


(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at

(c)2020 Barton Goldsmith Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC