Dear Abby: I met my husband, "Monty," shortly after he lost his wife of 14 years. Monty has two dogs, but the one I have issues with is "Ginger."
I have never seen a dog act like her. Ginger acts more like a wife than a dog. She clings to Monty to the point he doesn't have any time alone. She'll sit outside the shower until he is done. If he takes a bath, Ginger sits on the edge of the tub. She runs to him when he gets home from work to greet him before I do. As she's running ahead of me, she looks back as if she's worried I'll beat her to him.
It's as if she thinks she's his wife! She sits next to Monty on the couch when we're watching television. I hesitate telling her to move so I can sit next to my husband because he treats his dogs like gold. His excuse? "They were here for me when my wife died." I'm sympathetic to that, but where do I fit in?
Ginger bullies the other dog by growling at her and bumping into her when the other one tries to get Monty's attention. I'm feeling jealous because sometimes my husband neglects my physical needs and is more affectionate with the dogs. What do I do?
-- Jealous of the Four-Legged Mistress
Dear Jealous: When Monty's first wife died, Ginger became the alpha female in the house. Your husband was depressed and lonely, and he allowed or encouraged it. It is now up to him to retrain Ginger so she learns to defer to you because your place is beside your husband -- and not just on the couch.
If you haven't told Monty that you need a higher rank in the pack, do it now. And if he isn't willing to make some changes, including taking care of more of your physical needs, insist the two of you talk to a licensed marriage counselor. (And maybe to the Dog Whisperer.)
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.