Dear Uptight Seattleite,I cheated on my hairdresser. I thought maybe I could save some money, but the cut I got is terrible! And now when I go back to Lorraine, it will be obvious that I've had a haircut since the last time I saw her. Should I just lie?Hair-Brained Mistake Maker
Dear Mistake Maker,Go with a "partial-birth abortion" approach. Like a right-wing think tank, you've got to define the terms of the debate. As a one-person, one-issue lobbying group, cast yourself as the victim, not the perpetrator, of your bad haircut. Then you and Lorraine will be united in hostility against the other hairdresser. A word of warning, though: Tactics of division and negativity work for only so long. Try this move once too often, and you'll likely have to wave that white flag of surrender and head back to Wasilla, the capital of bad haircuts.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Can you deal with one more dog question? I want to be a sensitive dog owner, and I'm looking for leash and collar recommendations. I hope you don't mind my leaving this question in your voice mail.Collar Caller Carl
Dear Carl,It's great to see that the message has gotten out about choke collars. I notice when I'm out at the park that most owners have switched to some kind of soft, loose-fitting, non-irritating, extra-wide organic polymer. These good souls are to be commended. Even if they haven't realized they're still focusing all that stress on their dog's throat. Those who have made this realization quickly progress to a harness, one slot up from organic polymer on the Pyramid of Doggie Kindness. Unlike a collar, a harness distributes the pull of the leash across their dog's body. Harness users have achieved a level of empathy that is nothing short of terrific.So terrific that I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they see the horrifying flaw in the harness-and-leash system: the leash. Though the force is diffused by the harness on the dog's side, it's still attached to the human at a single point. That's why I've switched to the MultiWeb system, which has nine points of contact on the human side (wrists, elbows, knees, crotch, chest, and forehead). On the dog's side, the MultiWeb covers the entire length of her body and legs, enclosing her in a transparent netting from the base of the tail to the base of the skull. With a little bit of practice, you'll be able to install it on your dog in about 45 minutes. Depending on how squirmy she is. Leave an extra 70 or so minutes to attach it to yourself. The force will then be evenly distributed, and instead of yanking your dog this way and that in a heartlessly linear fashion, you'll envelop her in a soft mist of loving guidance.Walking with a dog isn't supposed to be some kind of military march with you as the commander. It should be more like an improvisational dance between human and animal. With the MultiWeb, this dance takes on new dimensions. A lift of your arm may suggest a direction, while an answering pull on your left knee lets you know where your dog would prefer to go. In response you can pull your head back with gentle firmness, while playfully wiggling your knees to appeal to your dog's sense of the absurd, even as your midsection is pulled forward in sharp counterpoint to this appeal. You'll soon discover what movements work for you and your dog. I've recently discovered that when I want my labradoodle Georgina to go a certain direction, I get good results with my own version of "locking and popping" that delivers waves of crisp little tugs across her body.The MultiWeb can also be a way to transfer subtle body wisdom to your dog. When I'm fresh from yoga class and extra-mindful of my posture, I find that the resulting gentle upward pull on Georgina's upper torso encourages her also to adopt good posture habits. She keeps me from taking my "instruction" too seriously, though, when she goes charging after a squirrel in the park and I helplessly flail along behind her like a spastic puppet. "OK, girl, OK!" I'll say, tumbling down with a laugh next to her in the grass, "Point taken!" The point being that sometimes you've just got to let your dog take the lead.Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.