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I have no idea why the sheriff would give that advice. It is terrible advice from anyone.
A restraining order against you is a very significant issue (it prohibits you from owning firearms, it shows up on background checks, it will appear in future court proceedings (even if you don't anticipate any now)).
If it is a weak application, show up and defend yourself, and defeat the petition.
The California Courts give some good basic information on how to deal with these matters: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1279.htm.
The basic principle is that the applicant must show an actual threat of physical harm posed by the respondent. If the applicant cannot show this, they cannot prevail in getting their restraining order. See: http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/code-of-civil-procedure/ccp-sect-527-6.html
For more exact help in formatting your response (beyond what is offered by the Court's general guidance), please visit your local law library.