Dear readers: During this time, I step down from my column every year to work on other creative projects. Hope you enjoy these “best of” questions and questions from 10 years ago. Today’s topic is: “Dog Gone”.
I also invite readers to subscribe to my weekly Asking Amy newsletter at Amydickinson.substack.com, where I post advice and comments on what I read, see, and hear.
I’ll be back next week with new questions and answers.
Dear Amy: My brother is getting married outdoors and has invited his friends to bring their dogs to his wedding.
His own dog, a coyote and pit bull mix, will be part of the ceremony.
My 4 year old who is also attending the ceremony is afraid of dogs (I’m sure this is partly my own thing).
I’m scared of big dogs and I am really scared of his dog.
I don’t want my kids to be scared of dogs, but I’m scared of them and I’m sure the dogs can sense it. How should I handle it?
Better to be scared: I shared your letter with Julie Klam, author of “Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Sometimes Helps Save Yourself” (2011, Riverhead Books). She reports that she was bitten by a dog as a child, but has overcome her fears and now has three dogs in her household – and an 8-year-old child.
Klam says, “Find a friend or relative with a small, reticent dog (not a puppy, they’re too hyperactive) and arrange a few visits. Take it super slow. I’ve had kids who are scared of meeting my dogs, and.. they are very concerned at first, but when the dogs are calm and not nervous they feel a little braver and sometimes even pet them. When children get through they feel so proud of themselves that they often want to move on. “
I agree with this advice to familiarize yourself beforehand with dogs that you know are good around children. The more successful you are all with dogs, the easier this becomes. However, you should also coach your children NEVER touching a dog without permission from the owner.
If at this point the child is unable to cope with it, the wedding reception should excuse them. Realistically, you have no way of knowing how all of these dog guests will interact at this event.
Dear Amy: My son lives two houses away from us. He has two big dogs that are in our front yard all the time.
We have small dogs that stay indoors. When my son’s dogs are in our garden, our dogs start barking at them and jumping to the windows. I hate telling my son to leave his dogs inside or to hand him over. There’s a linen law here, but they don’t enforce it. What do I do to avoid getting angry? This bark is driving me crazy. Jumping on the windows destroys my windows, the curtains and me.
– Worried mother
Dear mum: Your son is breaking the local linen law, the unspoken law of respect between neighbors and – hello – the most important law of all, which is being nice to your mother. You should tell your son that this is driving you and your dogs crazy. Ask him to respect the neighborhood and to keep his dogs at bay or on a leash. If his dogs roam the neighborhood, they can also damage the neighborhood, injure people or other pets, or be hit by a car. But you don’t need to point that out. All you have to do is ask him to keep the dogs on his property.
Dear Amy: I enjoyed the letters in your pet loss column. I inherited two cats from my niece when she had her first baby. I took care of her when my niece had her second and then third child. Years later, after the cats finally died, my sister asked me if I would have another one. I said no – I didn’t want to feel the pain when the cat died. My sister said not to worry – I would be dead long before the cat died. That reminded me to update my will.
– The great uncle
Dear Uncle: An uncle who takes in and loves two cats is the definition of a “big” uncle.
You can email Amy Dickinson at askamyamydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter, askamy, or Facebook.
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