Our Two Cents: Pet peeves

My family consists of just me, my big brother and his wife. Every Tuesday I have a standing invitation to their house for dinner. I love having our weekly dinners and hanging out with my bro, but his wife hates when I bring my dog over with me. My dog is just a little thing, doesn’t shed or bark much, and usually just curls up and sleeps wherever we go. My problem is that my sister-in-law is always worried my dog will get their apartment dirty or ruin her furniture, even though she has never had an accident or dragged a leaf, let alone mud, into their house. Nevertheless, my sister-in-law doesn’t want my dog to step through the door. I want to figure out a way to spend Tuesday dinners with my brother and my sweet pooch. How do I get my brother’s wife to bend the rules a bit? S.K., San Francisco

Jessica: I have a little dog too, and totally understand where you’re coming from. People who are not pet people, or who don’t have a dog of their own, don’t get that we see our pets as part of the family. They don’t realize that when we are not at work we want to be with our precious pets! A great solution to your problem would be to bathe your dog the same day you know you’re going to be over at your brother and sister-in-law’s house — and then tell your sister-in-law that your dog is squeaky clean. Bring your own towels for your dog to sleep on so no one has to worry about your dog being on their furniture. Lastly, since it doesn’t appear your brother has any problems with your pup, I’d talk to your sister-in-law and create a compromise that feels good for both of you.

Sharon: Dog owners definitely do not understand how apprehensive non-pet owners can be about having four-legged companions hop up on the couch with them. I believe it is only fair to respect the wishes of the homeowner in regards to how comfy your dog should feel curled up on her favorite chaise. Based on your remarks, I think it’s possible your sister-in-law may feel less connected to this family dinner than you realize. The pooch may be more welcome if your brother’s wife feels more included in the weekly love fest. I agree with Jessica; talk to your sister-in-law and make sure she knows you look forward to spending time with her, too. It is surprising how strict rules often melt away when the rule maker feels included, accepted and loved.

Alexis: You have chosen to have a dog, and your brother and sister-in-law have chosen not to have a dog. Respect their wishes to be pet-free. If you so appreciate your Tuesday dinners with your brother and his wife, but just have to spend that time with your dog, too, then invite your brother and sister-in-law to your house. Dogs don’t take their shoes off at the door, can’t wash their hands before dinner, and certainly can’t always find the bathroom in time. Although you see your dog as part of the family, your sister-in-law sees your dog as an animal, and she doesn’t want animals in the house.

Saul: Let me guess, your dog is one of those purse puppies. It’s understandable you want to spend time with your pet, but you can’t force that on anyone else, especially in their home. Would you bring your cat over there, too? Maybe you should eat on the patio or find a good picnic spot come spring. Just don’t let your pooch get between you and your brother — it’s not worth it.


Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in LosAngeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.

Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to [email protected]