ASK AMY: Dog lovers bring fur babies to Christmas dinner

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Dear Amy: We are starting to have trouble with family members who are dog-lovers.


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This Christmas we were asked to host the family gathering.

As we have only elderly cats in our home, we asked family members to leave their dogs at home, find accommodation for their dogs, or perhaps host Christmas themselves. We do not have a fenced yard, nor any facility to host their dogs.

People brought their dogs, anyway.

We were told that we had to fence in our yard before next year to accommodate dogs that we don’t have.

Some insisted that we should confine our cats to a bedroom so that these family members could bring their dogs inside.

This isn’t fair to us or our cats, who have lived in a dog-free house for over 15 years.

One dog always jumps up on people, and we have disabled and elderly members of the family who can’t withstand having a larger dog jump up on them.


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One of these family members is currently recovering from a compound fracture which occurred as a result of one of the dogs jumping on them. Some dogs have stolen food off the table, and others don’t get along well with the other dogs.

I’m sorry that it is difficult for us to accommodate them, but owning a dog is their choice and comes with responsibility that perhaps they may have to find a pet sitter for one or two days if the place they are travelling to cannot accommodate their animals.

Or they could host the holiday, themselves!

I arrange for pet care for our cats when we are out of town, and don’t force them on other family members. I ask for the same consideration in return.

Your thoughts?

– Family Member

Dear Family Member: Before I had a dog, I was assured that I would see my own dog as a “fur baby,” and as a sort of child substitute.


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Then I got a dog. And nope – this beloved animal is not my baby.

Yes, this dog is definitely a member of the family (as my many cats have been), but good and responsible parenting – of the human or canine kind – requires that you occasionally find good outside care, because your baby (human or “fur”) can’t go everywhere with you.

And if you can’t find care, you may have to stay home.

You have the right to ask family members not to bring their dogs to your holiday party, and they should respect this understandable request.

When they host family gatherings, you will find care for your feline family members and put up with their dogs, but it looks like you’re off the hook for hosting next year.

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Dear Amy: Our kids gave us a “family” trip for Christmas, including children and grandchildren.


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My sister, who is a widow, was with us at Christmas and invited herself along.

I have no desire to have her along, and find it presumptuous of her to invite herself, but now I’m the jerk because I said NO quite sharply at Christmas.

She kept nagging about it and my kids said there would be room.

I said no — it was intended for our family, not including her.

She is diabetic and almost blind, so yes — she is needy.

Am I wrong to feel this way?

– Scolded Sister

Dear Scolded: You are not “wrong” to feel the way you feel, but – from your own account, you reacted and behaved badly. Are you proud of your own actions on Christmas Day?

You should apologize to everyone for the way you reacted. You should especially apologize to your sister.

Tell her, “I hope you understand that I want to experience this special trip with my kids and grandchildren, but I should not have reacted the way I did, and I’m sorry.”


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You should communicate with your kids about this, and if they decide not to include their aunt, it would be kind of you to offer her an alternative.

Dear Amy: “Family Man” wrote to you about how to cope with his perennially cheating wife, and you – oh so sage – suggest an open marriage?

This man is obviously traditional and does not want that!

You need to retract this terrible advice.

– Upset

Dear Upset: I did not suggest that “Family Man” should enter into an open marriage. Because his wife refused to change, I outlined his options: Accept this as an open relationship, or leave the marriage.

I doubt that an open marriage would be tenable for him.



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