Pet Custody can be a real Heel in Vermont


Pet Custody can be a real Heel in Vermont

Some people consider pets to be possessions, and others consider them to be a member of the family. The Green Mountain State’s Supreme Court will get a firsthand look at a particular case trying to decide exactly that. At issue is a German wirehaired pointer, an eleven year old pooch whom the divorcing couple who are fighting for custody as one camp puts it or ownership as the other ex-spouse states, proving that pet custody in Vermont can be a real heel. Laura Baker and ex-husband Daniel Hament a childless divorcing couple sorted out the property, the financial affairs are in order. But there is this last little sticking point, and in that whether the dog is to be considered like a child or more like property. Belle, the dog loved by both her owners, forced Baker and Hament into family court. While Baker wanting to have Belle receive joint custody Hament rejected the idea. The pair was originally told by Chittenden Superior Court Judge Linda Levitt that the case would be decided on who cared for the dog more. Hament was a veterinarian who took the dog to work each day. Meanwhile, Baker took care of the dog’s daily needs, and took it for long walks in the forest.

The court said it would not enforce a shared visitation schedule “even if the parties agreed to it.” Hament instead won the dog in that case. The judge said it was because the dog had gone to the Richmond Animal Hospital, where Hament is a vet, as the change in its life would be too disruptive. The judge Levitt found that the husband also “treats the dog like a dog” while on the other hand Baker “treated the dog like a child.” Therefore the judge believed the husband’s “more balanced attitude toward the animal” would be better for Belle overall. Baker and her lawyer appealed and now the case falls on the Vermont Supreme Court. Currently there is a joint ownership arrangement, though the court skipped out on a chance to make that arrangement permanent. Baker argues that her husband getting control of the dog was against another higher court’s ruling, what’s more the decision seemed arbitrary. The court recognizes pets as property but “special property” which should get special privilege when considered in a divorce settlement. In April the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision. It also stated that the lower court shouldn’t get involved in business such as custody and visitation schedules of a dog.  The higher court wrote that “Unlike child custody matters, there is no legislative authority for the court to play a continuing role in the supervision of the parties with respect to the care and sharing of a companion animal.”

Nanci Smith, attorney for the wife’s side, said she was upset that the court decided not to set a “bright-line rule” clarifying the special status of pets. If pets are special property says Smith than why isn’t that recognized by the law? Smith said, “Just because you’re getting divorced, it doesn’t seem the same as giving the piano to somebody. It’s severing an emotional connection that we all value as a society and the Supreme Court has valued in other contexts.” Matt Buckley, the husband’s attorney, said that no new case law came out of this particular case. Though courts around the country have been starting to see pets more as children that can have shared custody, the Vermont Supreme Court instead “didn’t want to go there.” Since dogs are property, only one side can technically own them. This wasn’t about dogs at all, points out Buckley, “Everybody in the courtroom that day were dog lovers. I bring a dog to my office every day. Judge Levitt has a dog. Nanci Smith brings her dog to the office. So everyone in there appreciated the emotional significance of what was being decided.” This isn’t the first case to tackle this issue. Scheele and Scheele v. Dustin, a case that took place in 2009, saw Sarah and Denis Scheele be awarded $3,000 when Lewis Dustin killed the dog as it had ended up on his property. The dog didn’t display any threatening actions. In their ruling the Supreme Court wrote that animals were not just financial burdens when lost but one “derives from the animal’s relationship with its human companions … Indeed, we have suggested that the emotionless economic calculus of property law may not fully compensate a mourning pet owner.” If you want to learn more about pet custody read, What about Wally? Co-Parenting a Pet with Your Ex by Steve May and David Pisarra.

Great Ways to Ask Her Out


Great Ways to Ask Her Out

Got your eye on someone but don’t exactly know how to broach the subject?  There are lots of persuasive and charming ways to get her to agree wholeheartedly to a first date and have her counting down the days. If you’re confused over the difference between an ask out and a pickup line you definitely need to rethink your approach. Here are some great ways to ask her out. The usual way it’s done is after a long session of chatting and joking. Ladies love a guy who can make them laugh. Show her your best side. Make sure to use good, open body language. Open handed gestures, great eye contact and a dashing smile can melt her heart and make her say anything. Here’s a great tip, use an element of your conversation together to hook her into a date. “Can you tell me more about your fascinating trip to Iceland over coffee?” Or “The funniest part of the story happened a few days later. Sorry, I’m running late on time. How about dinner this weekend and I’ll tell you the rest?”  Now what if there are spectators, her friends or her family? Instead, offer her your email address so that you can fill her in on whatever you were talking about, or send her a link to a funny video she just has to see.

If you met your love interest online, the phone ask out is the way to go. After emailing back and forth and a couple of phone calls you two are ready to meet in person. If you are a shy guy, it’s okay but don’t let this roll out to a series of calls or she will lose interest and move on. One or two calls is all. You may have gotten her attention by your perfectly composed and compelling emails. But talking on the phone is a whole new ball game. Just like anything else in life, prepare. Have a few crowd pleasing anecdotes, a few insights, an interesting question for her, and really listen to what she says and give feedback. Don’t hang around when you feel the conversation lag. In fact, it’s best to leave them wanting more. Why not tell a story or a joke and leave the ending for when you two meet face-to-face? There’s nothing like adding a little anticipation to boost interest. Lastly, you can never account for when you are going to meet someone. It often sneaks up on you. But if you are glued to the spot by some exceptionally beautiful creature in the supermarket line, the laundry mat, at the bank or some other public venue, don’t let the opportunity slide. You only live once. And don’t fear rejection. No one’s going to know. Instead, approach her and chat her up. Find something you have in common to talk about. Or make a witty comment about the situation or the décor. Compliment her on something. If the conversation goes well, ask her out to something without much commitment; a coffee, a drink, some dessert and so on. At the dog park have your pooch ask out hers, and you are the proxy. You and she can be their chaperones. For more advice, read Attract the Right Girl: How to Find Your Perfect Girl and Maker her Chase you for a Relationship by Bruce Bryans.

What Your Date’s Pet Says about Them

Silhouette of a couple walking their dog on sunset

What Your Date’s Pet Says about Them

Are you dating someone who has a pet? It’s often whispered that how a person interacts with their pet can tell you a lot about how they will act in a relationship.  What does your date’s pet say about them? First, discern how your date disciplines his or her pet. This is especially noticeable with dog owners. Are they too controlling? It’s important to discipline your pet. But if they are all over it to the point where the dog can’t be a dog, this person is way too type-A. You really have to be a laid back type-B to handle that. Another word comes to mind, high maintenance. You are going to be spending so much time following the rules that there won’t be any room for any fun. The same is true if they go the other way, no discipline whatsoever. This doesn’t bode well if you have or are planning to have children. You’ll have to enact all the discipline yourself. In fact, he or she may turn into just another one of the children. Have you ever met someone who let’s their pet eat at the dinner table? Proper hygiene aside, this person has boundary issues. They can’t say no. They are a people pleaser. If you require someone to stick up for themselves or for you, then you may want to move on. They will be spreading themselves way to thin, committing to everything, leaving little time for the relationship to blossom.

Does your date feel threatened or jealous of your pet? This person may be manipulative, controlling or just overly needy and clingy. Being threatened by a friend who used to be an ex is one thing, but a pet is certainly another. Has your date ever used their pet as an excuse? Pets are certainly an important responsibility. And you should definitely notice whether or not your date takes care of their pet properly, particularly if you want children. But if they are conscientious, loving and responsible pet owners chances are this is how they’ll act in the relationship toward you and also to any future children. In fact, lots of couple’s cohabitating today get a pet as a starter child, to see how well they manage taking care of a cute little being together. But aside from all of that, if your date says that they’d like to go somewhere with you, but can’t because their dog doesn’t like it for instance, they may be harboring passive-aggressive tendencies. Like it or not, conflict is a very important part of any relationship. That is, how couple’s fight determines how sturdy and seaworthy their relationship is. And if they can’t tell you that they don’t want to go directly, but instead use the dog as an excuse you can bet they don’t deal with conflict well. If your date is buying every accessory for the dog then they feel inadequate and so want to gain attention, and status through their animal. Beware unless you have an ample salary to feed this need. Notice how your date interacts with their pet or pets and you’ll gain precious insight on who they are, and whether to move forward with them to the next level. To learn about the special relationship people have with their pets, read Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs by David Grimm.

Avoiding Relationship Burnout means Caring for yourself


Some people have partners who are seriously ill, either mentally or physically. Others have certain issues that they are dealing with themselves that can weigh on them and their partner. For these, timeouts and self-care are really crucial. But even avoiding burnout in a normal relationship is still so important.  Each partner should find some time and space to relax, reconnect with one’s self and rejuvenate. But in today’s busy world few people seem to do that and they and their relationships suffer. It shouldn’t take up a lot of time. But a little time to one’s self in order to recalibrate, decompress and feel oneness again can mean the difference between feeling good and bringing a great attitude to your work, family life and relationship or bringing a bad attitude, bad energy and bringing everything down. So what are some things you can do that don’t take a lot of time but will make a significant impact in relieving stress, feeling good and reconnecting with one’s self? There are lots of things you can do. It all depends on your situation, the type of person you are and what will have the most impact for you. Maybe your life is so hectic that you just need some alone time. Schedule a half hour or an hour a day just to have some alone time. Call it that, your own “time out” or “mommy time” or “daddy time.”

When you do take that time, make sure you are covered so you can relax. Ask your neighbor, friend, sibling or somebody else to chip in if your schedule is always packed. You need to be able to have peace of mind but make sure the kids are being watched. Do things you find calming. A hobby, listening to relaxing music, reading, exercise, yoga, transcendental meditation and more can all work to soothe you and wipe the stress away. If you can afford it, or trick a friend or a lover into it, why not get regular massages? It’s good for your health. Studies have shown receiving regular massage boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. Get a pedicure or a manicure. They are fine for men, too. Spend some time with a favorite pet. Why not pursue a hobby or interest that is outside your relationship, just for you? Martial arts, sewing, crocheting, model ship building, writing, painting, drawing, writing songs and more can all calm the mind and body, putting you in a much better mood.  Socializing can also mean the difference of stressing out and feeling stress free. Seeing a friend, or small groups just for fun maybe once a week can really brighten you and keep you calm. If you are taking care of a sick spouse or partner, or helping them through a difficult time, it’s so important to get out and socialize. You can feel totally isolated and alone. We are social beings and reconnecting can add so much to your life. For more advice on how to care for yourself, read Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself As Effectively As You Care for Everyone Else by Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. and Henry Dreher.

When Dating after 50, It’s all About Tolerance


When it comes to dating after 50, it’s all about tolerance. There are things you can tolerate and things you can’t. The trick is to figure out which is which. Do you have qualities the other person just has to have such as the same culture or religion? This isn’t a line of thinking that goes with any one sex. Both men and women have deal breakers. Women sometimes hang on to relationships that aren’t good for them, though some men do it too. They think they can change the person they are dating. With the right kind of love, and since you are the right kind of person you think you’ll change them. But frustration builds and actually hurts the relationship when these plans don’t work. They simply can’t work. Because the problem is that no one can change unless they come to the conclusion themselves, the old lead a horse to water model. There are women who decide settling is better than being alone, and that she’s with a good man. The truth is for people over 50 today, with the divorce rate so high, there are lots of people to date. There are also lots of ways to meet people. So there is no reason to feel cornered.

Some people are very attached to their pet. They won’t be able to tolerate someone who doesn’t like pets, or doesn’t enjoy the dog or cat as much as they do. You’ll have to figure out where you fit in the family and vice versa. Do you have adult children? What about your mate? If they have kids who are teens, are you okay with that, even when your kids are grown and moved out? Some people can’t tolerate smokers, while others can’t give up their cigarettes. Know how you feel about smoking before dating someone who does. Is it important for you to have someone you can share an occasional bubbly with or is someone in AA okay? What is the situation in the bedroom? Each person is different and it’s important to know whether you are compatible. What are the money issues? Who pays and how does it all work? The value of dating at this age is you really know yourself and you aren’t often hemmed in by social obligations like getting married or having children. There’s a lot more freedom, but you still want to enjoy it with the right person. Thinking it through now and knowing what you can tolerate in a relationship and what you can’t, and what your mate should be able to tolerate and what they shouldn’t have to put up with, is what it’s all about. Enjoy this very special time in your life and the new freedom it affords you. For more, pick up a copy of Over 50 Dating Secrets: #1 Senior Dating Guide For Mature Singles by P. David O’Brien and Over 50 Dating.