Leave dogs at home

Dear Annie: I have three dogs. I love them and treat them well. In turn, I expect and receive good behavior. I have worked very hard to train my dogs on proper behavior in the house. They are very well-mannered. I keep them groomed, so even shedding is not much of a problem. I wish people wouldn’t assume that just because I have dogs, it’s fine for them to bring their dogs over when they come by my house.

I have had people bring dogs that have peed on my dogs’ beds, on walls, on a wicker chest. (How do you get the smell out of wicker?!) One even pooped in a bedroom. They have chewed and destroyed my dogs’ toys, too. How can I tactfully tell folks who are coming to visit not to bring their dogs? I never take my dogs to other people’s homes unless they’re invited.

— Gone to the Dogs

Dear Gone to the Dogs: What’s wrong with saying, “Please don’t bring your dog along”? It’s not rude — just direct. Let the folks whose dogs are destroying your furniture worry about having more tact.

Dear Annie: Years ago, in the 1970s, I was waiting in a fast-food restaurant for my husband. I noticed a family in an adjacent booth — a mother, a father and their little girl, who seemed to be about 6 years old. While the father was seated with them, all was normal. But as soon as he got up to go to the bathroom, the woman began to berate the child in an angry whisper that I could hear — telling her that she was all manner of horrible, using such ugly phrases. I was at a loss for words and wished there were some way to show the husband and/or Child Protective Services what was happening.

A glimmer of an idea came to me. I was verbally abused as a child and an adult, and I remembered how important the kind words of strangers had been to me. I went to their booth and said, “Ma’am, I am sorry to bother you, but your beautiful little girl is so well-behaved and seems so bright. You must be proud of her.” I looked at the child directly and said, “You are wonderful.” It wasn’t much, but it was all I could think of at the time.

— Janet

Dear Janet: It wasn’t much? It was a great deal. Perhaps it caused the mother to stop berating her daughter, at least for a moment, and you have no idea how much better your words may have made that little girl feel — or for how long. She may even still remember it to this day. Kindness begets kindness, and every bit you put into the world encourages more of the same. Good job.

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