Dear Margo: “Friends” Without Brains

My husband was ill and now my friends and family turn to me for grief counseling: Margo Howard’s advice

“Friends” Without Brains

Dear Margo: I am in my mid-40s. After eight years of marriage, my husband died last year of an insidious brain cancer. It was 10 months of “progressive” illness from onset to his death at home, and it’s been a year of slow rebuilding — and a lot of staring off into space. During his illness, dozens of friends and family rallied around to provide support and care. They were magnificent.

My problem is this: Several of those people now “check in” from time to time to tell me horror stories of other people (most of whom I don’t know) suffering with one form of cancer or another. Oddly, the main offender is my own mother, who rarely had a kind word to say about my husband prior to his illness, but now praises him to the skies and has pretty much told me that now that he’s gone, the best part of my life is over.

I don’t know what to do with this. If it were specifically brain cancer people were telling me about, perhaps I could offer insight or strategies for coping. But for any other type of cancer, what the heck do I know? And why are these people thinking I would be interested in hearing gory details? I do not wish to spend the rest of my life reliving my husband’s cancer and soaking up the misery of everyone else’s. What do I (politely) say to these folks? — (Not) Our Lady of Sorrows

Dear Not: Forget polite, honey, and just practice cutting in, right at the beginning of these organ recitals, with a quick sentence along the lines of, “You know, I find these conversations depressing, so let’s talk about something else.” As for your mother, she sounds like a piece of work, so I would issue a special fiat just for her: “It is best for me if we do not talk about my husband or his illness.” And I would get caller ID so there will be fewer occasions on which you need to remind her. — Margo, authoritatively

Dealing with a Dog Person

Dear Margo: My husband and I recently moved to another state for his work. We’re in a small town without many young families. We recently met another relocated couple our age (late 20s). Both husbands travel a great deal, and the other wife and I now spend time together when our husbands are away. The problem is her (large) dog. She brings him everywhere, including restaurants. She leaves him in the car, but goes to check on him every half-hour, and she brings him to my house. I invited her to my sister’s for my niece’s birthday party, and she brought the dog! Then she spent the whole time keeping the kids away from the dog.

Not being a dog lover myself, I’m having a hard time understanding this. We have also taken to cooking together sometimes when our husbands are away (at her house; better kitchen). She routinely lets the dog lick her dishes before they go in the dishwasher. I don’t want to lose this friendship over a dog, but I’m grossed out eating at her place. Honestly, I’m afraid if it came down to hanging out with me on a Saturday night or being at home with the dog, she might pick the dog. Selfishly, I don’t want to alienate the only woman my age in this small town. — Eating Out of a Dog Food Bowl

Dear Eat: Let me guess: This woman has no children. I am down with her devotion to Fido because I, myself, have granddogs. They belong to my daughter (the doctor), who informs me that while my idea of a dog’s “clean mouth” might be a myth, the dishwasher will kill just about anything, if only in the drying cycle. If you have not gotten sick so far, assume by empirical evidence that the risk to your health is negligible. The friendship sounds important to you and Fido sounds important to her, so try to look elsewhere when the dog “pre-washes” the plates. — Margo, pragmatically

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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71 Responses so far.

  1. avatar beatrix_pierre says:

    LW1: I’m glad your friends and family were supportive during your husband’s illness. I don’t know how much of a help I would be if any of my friends’ were ill with a terminal disease. Heck, I don’t know how I would want them to help me if I were dying. I would be dithering around, moaning and groaning and wringing my hands. Anyhoo! I wonder about people who feel the need to let you know of someone else who is battling cancer. Why do they need to consult or update you? I don’t get it. but Margo’s advice seems to be the way to go. Let them know you don’t need or want to know. Hope your heart heals and you can remember your husband with smiles instead of tears.

    LW2: I cracked up over the bit where she kept the kids away from the dog. I mean really, how can one expect kids to ignore a dog. Did the dog want to be kept away? Was it a case of her not wanting sticky fingers touching/messing up the dog’s fur? Since it’s a small town and you want to be with someone your own age, I guess you have to put up with her. I am a cat lover myself and if I had to pick between someone or a cat. I wouldn’t hesitate in choosing the cat.

  2. avatar Amy says:

    It’s obvious Margo is a diehard Dog lover and an against anyone who ISN’T a dog lover. This woman sounds like she has several screws loose if she thinks it’s okay to be with her dog 24/7. Licking the dishes is grotesque and I don’t care how clean that dishwasher gets those plates, that’s still gross! At the very least, talk to her about it. It sounds like she’s just lonely, her husband is gone a lot and she has no kids so she’s latched onto her pooch instead.

    • avatar booie says:

      If Margo was such a dog lover, she would have mentioned that the LW’s friend is a horrible person and not a good dog owner for leaving her dog in the car.

      • avatar KarrinCooper says:

        My thinking exactly Boogie! I mean I have 3 IG’s and while I love them to bits, taking them OUT with me while I go to eat isn’t an option.

        ‘Latch on to her pooch instead’ – and so……? What? While she may go a bit overboard, if she has no children that IS her child. That is how the majority of us FEEL about our animals Amy. My cats, my dogs, my lizard, my horse – all are my kids. However, that being said, like children those boundries need to be set.

        If she took the pup to your house LW2, did she ask permission beforehand? If not and you would prefer her not to bring Big boy just tell her that. I mean girl time is girl time, anf he’s a guy 😉

      • avatar nancyc82 says:

        DITTO !!!

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        Booie, agreed. The dog licking the plates before going in the dishwasher is not a big deal, the washer will kill everything and I’m surprised this is what she glommed onto the most. I was more concerned with the fact she takes this dog EVERYWHERE, that’s what I would bring up with her, tell her I don’t want the dog in my house and leaving the dog in the car.

      • avatar Linda McNeal says:

        We don’t know where LW2 lives or what time of year it was when her friend was leaving her dog in the car. My daughter lives up in the mountains in WV were it is rarely hot. If she is takes her dog out for some exercise and then stops somewhere where dogs aren’t welcome, she leaves him to sleep in the back seat of the car. That doesn’t make her a horrible person. The dog is in no danger of heat stroke most days of the year up there. That said, if LW2 lives somewhere hot, maybe finding and emailing an article about how dangerous it is to leave your dog in the car would help.
        If the town that LW2 lives in is so small that there is only one other person her age there, then her friend taking the dog along is not quite as egregious as it sounds. However, if the dog were well behaved, I doubt she would have a problem with him. And that is the real crux of the problem. Well behaved dogs are, unfortunately, a rarity. That’s not a reflection on the dogs, but the owners.
        I have two hairless dogs because of my allergies, so I can use the allergy excuse for anyone so dense that they assume their (unruly) dog is welcome at my home. Since there is no polite way to tell a friend (even a really close one) that you feel their dog is poorly behaved, the easiest thing to do may be to develop an “allergic reaction” to it. If pretend sniffling a snorting doesn’t work to get the dog moved outside or to another room, you simply say that your allergies are acting up and you’ll have to go home. Then you’ll find out whose company she prefers. 🙂

        • avatar booie says:

          I do live in the mountains of WV and yes, there is a 10 degree difference between my house and DC, but the sun is still shining today, and it is still hot in the car. A couple days last week, yes it was COLD. But I did a google search and not one website says that leaving a dog in the car is acceptable.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Who cares if a dog licks the plate pre-dishwasher.  I assume that you use utensils from restaurants that have been in strange person’s mouths, presumably some of whom have diseases and/or bad oral hygiene.

      The big problem is leaving the dog in the car.

    • avatar Margo Howard says:

      Amy — you guesssed wrong about me being a diehard. I like them well enough, but don’t have one. And I basially agree with the woman who is grossed out, but I had to look at her situation for what it was.

  3. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: I think Margo answered this beautifully. People are looking at you to gain their own feelings of validation—you’ve walked through fire and lived to tell the tale, so that makes you the resident expert on death and dying and cancer. They’ll stop eventually, faster if you divert the subject to something else.

    LW2: Sorry, but dogs are no grosser than most of the children I’ve been around for extended periods of time. You can always use your friend as a cautionary tale in case your husband ever decides he wants one of those 4-legged poop factories after all. Speaking of which, I was NOT a dog person at all—until the day my ex showed up at my apartment holding a puppy in his hands. I asked him whose dog it was and he replied: “yours.”

  4. avatar zaraldri says:

    Regarding LW2: Yeah, this woman sounds a little attached to the dog, not a big deal. What is a big deal is her taking him places and leaving him in the car. It doesnt matter if she parks in the shade and leaves the windows cracked and gives him water. He could still die from heat or dehydration. If this woman really loves her dog his safety should be more of a concern. Also, in many places, she could be in trouble legally for leaving the dog in the car. Police and animal control have been authorized to break windows to remove animals from vehicles to rescue them if they are left unattended. Even on a relatively cool day temperatures inside a vehicle can get dangerously high. Someone needs to tell this woman she is risking her dogs life every time she leaves him in the car, and if she does it again, I would slip away for a moment and discreetly call it in to the police. Having her get in trouble once could save the dogs life.

  5. avatar Violet says:

    I am a dog lover and have adopted several from the shelter. My current dog is really dear to me. That having been said, she stays home when I go as a guest either out or to someone’s house [unless they are a dog person and specifically say dogs are welcome]. It’s much safer for the dog to be at home than to be in a car. I also feel safer with her at home than at a friend’s, where someone might let her out. It is possible to dote on your pets without imposing them on other people.

    Even though my dog is totally friendly, I still have her outside or in a separate room when someone first comes over, until I make sure they are comfortable with her being inside and they feel okay around dogs.

    On the dish thing. Ewwwww. I know the dishwasher probably adequately cleans the dishes, but I would be squicked out too if I witnessed the dog licking my hostess’s plates.

  6. avatar jadeddame says:

    For crying out loud-you babies. My dog licks my plate when I am done. We often joke in my house that he licked it so clean we can put it away now. Not only does a dishwasher wash dishes with super hot water (scalding) the dish detergent contains chlorine bleach. Don’t be germ-a-phobe, a few kooties are good for the immune system.
    As for not being a dog lover I wouldn’t want to be friends with any one who would not welcome my big German Shepherd Dog into their home. My NaNa use to say,”Like me, like my dog.”

    • avatar Michelles11 says:

      I love my dog too, but some people really are afraid of dogs…it’s cruel to impose a dog on people who are truly afraid, not dog people, or are allergic.  You may miss out on some good friendships just because they don’t want your dog in their house.  Just my humble opinion….

    • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

      I have a dog I love, but I don’t expect every single person I know and love to accommodate her and I certainly don’t drag her everywhere I go. My parents were capable of hiring a babysitter for me and my brothers when they went to do adult stuff. If people can do that with their human children, dog-lovers can deal with leaving Fido at home to visit a non-dog-loving friend.

      • avatar KarrinCooper says:

        Exactly Maggie and Michelle! It should be ‘like me, and if you like my dog even better’ 😉 That’s what pet sitters are for 😀

    • avatar Jessica J says:

      I am a dog lover–have two right now. They are MY dogs, not the world’s dogs, which means that I am the one who is responsible for them and I’m the one who chose to have them for my enjoyment and companionship. No one else has made that commitment and therefore no one else should be held to it. I made sure my husband, who is not a dog lover but loves me, was okay with sharing our home with the dogs BEFORE I got them, and while he may participate in their care occasionally to help me out, they are NOT his responsibility, and he doesn’t have to ‘love’ them. My kids, who also wanted the dogs, know they belong to me, but made the commitment to help, so they have days where they are responsible for feeding, training, grooming, etc.
      I would NEVER want your German Shepherd in my home! Would I be cruel to him? No! Would I wish him harm? No! Do I dislike dogs? No! But he’s YOUR dog, not mine. He belongs in HIS home, not mine, or at HIS boarder or HIS sitter’s home. It is an unreasonable expectation that everyone should be willing to have YOUR pet in their home. Oh, and yes, it is disgusting that you let him lick the plate, and not that great for his physical OR mental health, either.

      • avatar Lucy Henry says:

        Uh, I can understand not giving dogs people food because it might be bad for them, but would you kindly explain how letting a dog lick a plate harms its “mental health”? I’ve never heard of a dog ending up on a therapist’s couch from that.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          There are doggie psychiatrists. Shhh, don’t tell. They must maintain confidentiality. The kitty shrinks as well. Every hacked hairball might be a sign of imminent psychosis.

          With the pooches, it might be the onset of all of those designer bandannas…

  7. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#2 – you aren’t going to be able to change what your friend does in her own home so you need to decide that you will ignore the dish licking. Have you broached the topic of the dog coming along everywhere? Decide which times it bothers you the most to have the dog along — at the restaurant when the dog is in the car, at a friend’s house, etc.

    I’d say something when planning the outing “Lucretia dear, do you think that perhaps Fluffy would be happier at home during this outing? I worry so much about him being left in the car/eating the children/getting tangled in the clothes in the store. Maybe we can stay a little shorter time so Fluffy isn’t lonely but I’d feel so much better if I know he’s happy not being restricted.” Maybe no one has ever mentioned that Fluffy isn’t the appropriate accessory for every occasion.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      That is a big dog (and hungry one) if you worry that he will eat the children!

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        Tell that to the parents in the stories of toddlers killed by large dogs.  I like dogs well enough but they are animals and belong in their place, around young children is not that place.

        • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

          The dogs don’t kill toddlers for food.  Domesticated animals are not going to eat you unless you are already dead and they are hungry.

          • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

            It was a joke.  I know what she is saying.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Actually…Robert E. Howard wrote a brief monograph discussing his opinion that cats would probably begin noshing on you before you were quite fled from this mortal coil…but too weakened to put up resistance.

            And I have a cat that has gotten so fat, even though he is strictly indoors and quite stupid, that I am concerned that one of the more astute felines has been letting him out. I have put out subtle inquiries as to whether any small children in the immediate vicinity have gone missing of late…

          • avatar butterfly55 says:


  8. avatar Sweet Dream says:

    We used to have a 110 lbs. pure white Akita. She was the most docile dog I know. It took alot to get her excited about anything. We used to take her all over, even our friends’ houses with their permission. If we had to stop by at a store one of us usually stayed with her in the car. When we had to go somewhere without her we usually made a shorter trip/visit. I remember one weekend we took her to the Mall in DC, there must have been hundreds of people wanting to touch her and take pictures with her. I even joked that we should charge a dollar for every picture. But we knew how to control/restrain her. No, she never licked our plates “clean”, the idea of it is gross even to us and she never climbed on furnitures either. We never fed her table scraps. We treated her like a dog was supposed to be treated. I think a good dog owner should always think about the dog first from the dog’s perspective not from the owner’s.

  9. avatar beiskaldi says:

    LW2, please consider that your friend may have the dog as a security blanket. Someone suggested she has some screws loose, which is a pretty cruel thing to say, and that person should be thankful he or she doesn’t have such issues (or maybe they do and the hostility is just a cover for it). It is, however, possible that she does have some sort of anxiety disorder, or maybe just insecurities about her husband being away. Also consider the fact that the dishwasher does a good job of doing in germs–I think it was Dear Abby where the recent discussion was about putting the toilet brush in the dishwasher to clean after use and whether that was safe or disgusting. I’d take the dog drool over the toilet brush any day. Besides, she could be letting the dog lick the plates and then washing it all by hand in lukewarm water with a germ-laden sponge.

    • avatar martina says:

      LW2’s letter reminded me of that Dear Abby letter also!  We feed our 17.5 year old pekinese off of the same plates that we eat from since she pretty much eats what we do and with the blessings of the vet. The vet told us to keep doing what we’ve been doing because it’s working and she’s pretty healthy for her age. Perhaps LW2 can’t keep the dog at home because it has separation anxiety and tears the place up when left alone.

      • avatar booie says:

        My cat eats off the little salad plates…the dishes get washed. If LW cant leave her dog, then she says home, or does this amazing thing call…training. It helps with those crazy doggie issues. Their brains are complex, but they are much more easily helped then humans, we fight the change.

  10. avatar Michelles11 says:

    LW1 I love my dog.  Period.  And I WOULD choose my dog over my friends.  However, I do not impose MY dog on people who are NOT DOG people.  Just as I would hope that a smoker NOT smoke in a smokeless home, I would not bring my dog to a home without permission or a direct invitation.  When people come to my home, the dog is outside or in another room if the guests are uncomfortable.  There are such things as bad owners, and this lady takes the cake.  I think the dog fills some void for her…lonliness, sadness, I don’t know what, but she is blind to her own thoughtlessness.  It’s sad.  The letter-writer stated she didn’t want to lose this woman as a friend, so unfortunately, I think Margo is right.  If it’s between her or the dog, the dog will win. 

  11. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    Letter 1 – There is something about any illness or care giving that seems to bring out the idiocy in people. When my mother was dying of lung cancer we heard about other cancers too, during her final months and after the funeral. When my husband was diagnosed with Myasthenia over twenty years ago we both heard horror stories about how agonizing and wasting this illness was, mostly from people who then had to ask us what it really was and meant. He is still able to care for himself. After taking care of a father-in-law with dementia I am still hearing about dementia and Alzheimer’s issues. I came to the conclusion that those who feel impelled to have these conversations must do it to reassure that these things won’t happen in their lives. It reminds me of people throwing salt over their shoulder or whistling past the graveyard.

  12. avatar Robert Smith says:

    “organ recital” – another gem from Margo!

  13. avatar Maggie Tenser says:

    Margo’s response to LW2 seems kind of useless. The problem isn’t just that the friend lets the dog lick the plate. It’s that she’s so attached that the dog is a constant companion during all activities. That’s loony. What person would rather make their dog sit in a car, than leave it home alone? Is it so poorly trained that she can’t trust her in her house?

  14. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: I couldn’t agree more. Speak up. Interrupt if you have to (probably will). Screen your phone calls. I work medical, and whenever mother or aunt gets on the phone what do I hear? A litany of aches and pains. I’m sorry for those situations, but 40 hours a week “in my ears” of it already…

    L #2: Yeah, tough situation. You don’t want to offend or alienate her. I’d at least point out the possible unsafeness of leaving the pooch in the car. It’s weird that she’d assume her dog is welcome at a birthday party, and then spend most of that time trying to keep the dog in check. If you do finally “lose it,” try to be constructive and polite in any comments to her. As for YOUR house, it is YOUR house; you have the right to tell her YOUR house is off-limits to the dog. However, she probably won’t come over without him.

  15. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – As Margo said, you just need to be open, honest and up-front and tell these folks that you’re not interested in discussing it and you wish them well. Caller ID is the best invention since the wheel. Learn to use it and use it often.

    LW2 – I’m a long time dog lover and owner and am very involved in many aspects with these wonderful animals. The poor creature probably suffers from attachment/detachment/separation anxiety issues and can not bear to be left alone and goes crazy and gets destructive. The dog, on the other hand seems just fine. Don’t worry about the dishes. Family pets have been licking off dishes since they first trained humans to let them and we’ve survived.

  16. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – I love dogs and haven’t had one since I was a little girl. And I know MANY people that love their dogs as if they were indeed their child. But……they are animals.

    And the only reason they have a devotion to their owner is because that owner feeds them and gives them a place to live. I assure you if they were given away to someone else, it would be no different. They are animals. I find your friend’s behavior as it relates to her animal as bordering on psychotic. And given she has no problem with her dog licking plates, I will also assume she would have no problem eating cereal out of his dog bowl.

    I’m with you, I wouldn’t want to eat over her home and yes she is too attached to her animal. If I were giving you advice I would be blunt (but in a kind way) and tell her your true feelings about dogs and how you see her relationship with her dog. It might be an eye opener for her OR sadly, you will have to sever ties with the only younger person in town.       

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      I don’t think the term “psychotic” means what you think it does.

       Dishwashers use scalding hot water and detergent to kill almost all bacteria that exists on dishes.  Letting the dog lick a plate is not much different from eating off of utensils in a restaurant.  Have you seen some of the people out there and their oral hygiene or who-knows-what sores they have around their mouths?  I don’t let dogs near my plate, because I don’t want my dog to get into the habit of taking food from my plate (like if I leave the room for a minute), but I don’t see it as a big problem.

      The biggest problem for the dog owner is that she leaves the dog in the car, which may be detrimental to the dog’s well-being.  That she takes the dog everywhere with her may be excessive, but it is only a big deal when she actually brings the dog to other people’s homes without clearing it with them. 

      I do agree that the friends need to have a talk.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        “I don’t think the term “psychotic” means what you think it does.”

        It doesn’t, you are absolutely correct…but it’s a common Belinda Joy diagnosis for behavior she doesn’t approve of or understand. You are also correct about household dishwashers…they generally heat water to between 120-160 degrees (not boiling, therefore they do not “sterilize”) but hot enough to destroy any bacteria found in a healthy canine or human mouth. And hot enough to scald an adult, or put a critical, blistered burn on an infant. We don’t let our cats eat from our plates because it isn’t healthy for them (our food) or a desirable habit. But when they occasionally get a nibble, I am confident that said plates, hand washed in extremely hot water with organic (yes, I read the ingredients) dish soap (not anti-bacterial, which is actually unhealthy for various reasons), are not going to kill us. They haven’t made anyone sick in my entire 30 years of owning cats. Really.

        Pets should never, ever be left in cars, Period. End of story. Or brought into another person’s home without express permission. When people with allergies, or a fear of cats come to our home…the affectionate individuals are comfortably settled in the house bedrooms with food, water, litter boxes and a cozy place to doze. We don’t impose them on others.

        Animals do bond with humans. They run away from new homes to try (and sometimes succeed) to find their lost friends. They wither away when an owner dies (cats as well as dogs). They can be single-person, or belong to an entire family…or have a special human within the unit. Some prefer men, some women, for no discernible reason. I’ve had cats who would fret if I was sick, insist on grooming my arms and face, and waiting protectively near me until I was well. Yes, they had someone else to feed them. It is pure ignorance to flatly state that domesticated mammals such as cats, dogs and horses do not bond with humans.

    • avatar Lucy Henry says:

      Belinda Joy, wrong- animals DO in fact sometimes get depressed and refuse food when they lose their “people”. They are adaptable as are humans and can get used to another living situation in time, but they do get attached.

      • avatar Belinda Joy says:

        Lucy Henry, do animals become “attached” to their owners? Yes.

        But as I said, take them away from the person providing them food and give them to another person to do so and yes, they will become “attached” to them as well. Dogs and cats are animals, not human beings.  And no matter how many mentally unstable people in this world believe Humans are a form of animals, we aren’t.

        The bottom line in this particular letter is a weird woman who is treating her pet like a human and allowing “it” to eat off of plates shared by humans. No matter how you slice it, that is wrongs and speaks to her nuttiness. 😀

  17. avatar D C says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a dog lover, but I’m certainly not a dog hater.  However, there is nothing that bothers me more than going to someone’s home hand having their large dogs do the crotch sniff.  Smaller dogs don’t bother as much because they can’t reach that high.  We know a LOVELY couple that we really like, but I will not go to their home again because they have 2 huge Labradors (1 black, 1 Chocolate) that have the run of the house, and tend to run all over their guests.  The owners are constantly saying “get down” and “stop that” or whatever, but you know what, the dogs do as they please. 

    We had a large dog – an absolutely gorgeous Golden Retriever — and when we had visitors over, she was sent to a room with a closed door because I was not about to subject my guests to my dog’s natural curiosity. 

    • avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

      Dogs sniff one’s crotch mostly because it’s at nose level.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Humans are also animals, each with our own unique scent…and our primary scent producing glands are in all of those places that we consider both stinky and essentially private….such as armpits and crotches. Even small dogs will try to identify a new person. So it goes. It is entirely probable that some ancestor of the current crop of homo sapiens were intrigued by each others’ delectable smells that we find offensive today. Except we don’t, really. Shhh…don’t tell.

        And cats love to sleep with one’s, ahem, unwashed unmentionables…and with their heads in their pets’ shoes. This gives them comfort…somewhat like wearing a husband’s or boyfriend’s shirt. Even washed, it retains his scent. Yup, we’re critters too.

  18. avatar zenaide says:

    I don’t see the problem with dogs licking plates before they are put in the dishwasher. Our dog did that for 10 years, and no-one ever got sick in our house…
    I adore dogs, and am very sorry that I can’t have one right now ( not home often enough ). I have other friends who also adore dogs. However, neither I nor they would ever dare bring a dog anywhere, without prior consent from the homeowner, and even then we’d only do it if we absolutely knew without a shadow of a doubt, that the dog would behave.

  19. avatar Kathy says:

    I love, love, love dogs – and have two – and would never think of letting them use the same dishes we use.  Nor would I eat my cereal out of their food dishes.  Love ’em to pieces, but they are animals. 

    • avatar Jessica J says:

      Bravo! They are ANIMALS. Most ‘animal lovers’ want us to treat them like people. I think that we insult and belittle their ‘animalness’ when we do that, and it’s sad because it is that fact that they’re NOT people that allows us to have them live with us and that makes the human/animal relationship so special and unique. When we understand the natural balance of our relationship, we’re able to love them for exactly what they are, and funnily enough, a lot of THEIR ‘behavior issues’ seem to mysteriously disappear . . .

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        People who have pets, and see them as human, are engaging in anthropomorphizing. Seeing animals (such as dogs and cats, for example) as actual human beings…with the same mental capabilities and patterns, same ability to comprehend the future and consequences, to rationalize, analyze, and the same apprehensions (which is often why people stupidly refuse to spay and neuter, especially the latter, because Butch will know he has no balls and feel like less than a Man). They project into and onto their pet their own emotions and self-image.

        Detrimental to the animal, and potentially dangerous and horrible for others as well. Animals have feelings, thought processes, fears and a capacity to learn. But they are not human at all. A cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog…and individual as each is, they do not, and cannot think or behave as we do. They cannot know that neutering will render them sterile and disinterested in reproduction, or that de-clawing will alter them in any way (I have front de-clawed 27 cats. Not one has turned vicious. One, an over-grooming cat with polydactyly got a very minor infection on her eight-toed foot because she insisted on gnawing it endlessly. All of them have had no idea they were without claws…because they all happily use a raffia scratching post on a regular basis). They rely on us, they love us…but they are not us (I’d say they are just “animals”, but we are “just animals” too).

        When pet owners lose that distinction, awful things can happen. I’ve never made that mistake. Responsible animal people don’t. It is that unique, beautiful bond between them and us (and I love dogs, and horses too) that makes our relationship so very special.

  20. avatar amw says:

    I absolutely love animals and am excited for the day we have a large yard so we can add a couple puppies to our three kitty family.

    Margo’s right in the fact that a dog’s mouth is in fact one of the cleanest of the species that inhabit this earth AND a dishwasher sanitizes any nasty germs and bacteria that may remain behind, although admittedly, it’s unlikely that 100% of contaminates are washed away…just a simple fact of life.

    However, I disagree strongly with the LW’s friend on two points:

    #1 Leaving the dog in the car when she brings it somewhere that it can’t go inside. That is incredibly dangerous to the dog’s health!

    #2 The polite thing to do is ask whether or not your dog is welcome at another’s home. Simply bringing it without asking is presumptuous and rude, not to mention could put any allergy sufferers at risk.

    I like the “granddog” comment Margo. My mom fondly calls my babies her “grandkitties.” 🙂

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      2 dogs, 2 cats. They all groom each other and play non-stop. The smartest thing we did was introduce the cats as kittens to the already-grown dogs.

      Addition to my original post about dogs—I NEVER feed my dog people food. I have been around people who do. It only mildly disturbs me when a dog licks off a plate (and having worked in restaurants for many years, I’ve seen worse), but I won’t tolerate dogs that beg or push their way to your plate. That’s where I draw the line.

  21. avatar JGM1764 says:

    I don’t think Margo fully addressed LW2’s issue. I agree that it is not big thing for the dog to lick the plate when they’re going in the dishwasher, which will fully sanitize the dishes. I got the impression the issue was more that her friend brings the dog EVERYWHERE, including uninvited to the niece’s party. What if someone there had been allergic to or terrified of dogs? I like dogs ok, but I am highly allergic to some breeds and would be rather put out if someone brought one to my home without expressed permission.

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      I have a friend who had to go to a rehab after a major operation, they brought in dogs once a week to “cheer up” the people who were there long term.  My friend is deathly afraid of dogs, always has been.  It was horrible for her because she might be in the exercise rooms or therapy and they would ignore her statements that she didn’t want the dogs around her.  She had to almost start screaming before the believed that she really didn’t want the dogs.  No one should assume their dog is wanted everywhere. 

  22. avatar Eileen Heath says:

    I am a dog owner and I love my dog and often I am very concerned that I am not around my dog enough. Remember when you get a dog: often you are the only source of interaction it has. Not like they can play on a computer or read a book.
    That being said, I would never leave my dog in the car “for only half an hour” even if I DIDN’T live in Texas. If I’m bringing my dog to a restaurant, I’d make sure the pup could come in. What’s the point of bringing “pup-pup” if only to leave him alone?
    I was nervous having my dog around children for a little while (he was a stray pitbull) so I didn’t put him in a situation where there could be trouble. Bringing him to a place where I would have to act as a goalie qualifies as one of those situations.
    This person’s logic is very very flawed. Forget reason.
    “I don’t want to leave my puppy alone” and leave him alone.
    “I don’t want kids around my dog” and brings the dog to a children’s party.

    • avatar Jean B says:

      Eileen, You hit the nail on the head! What does she think leaving him in the car is? And to bring him to a place where she doesn’t want him touched? Wow. Our younger one was a stray, also. American Bulldog, which falls into the catagory of pit. We were also worried how she would behave around others, but when she got older, she was only 3 months when we found her starving and dirty. Turns out she is the biggest wuss in all history. My daughter’s Chihuahua’s terrify her. She’s 52 pounds and runs from a 7 pounder. It’s hysterical to watch them together. She also submits to all of our neighbor’s dogs, about 9 total around us of various sizes and breeds.

  23. avatar Jean B says:

    LW2: I have 2 large dogs and 2 tiny grand-dogs, all currently living in my house…..God help me. Anyway, I don’t get grossed out having them eat off people dishes but it does confuse them. At dinner time they are not permitted near the table at all (let alone allowed to beg). If they are allowed people food off of people plates once then they think it’s OK all the time. Animals don’t understand the difference. Having said that, most human food is not healthy for them. Unprocessed food without spices and sauces would be OK, but in their own dish!

    As for taking her dog everywhere, everyone who posted you should never leave a dog in a car is spot on. It’s just not safe for him and she is doing it for her own benefit and not the dog’s, which makes her very selfish. And I would never presume that a friend would want my dogs in their house unless they invited them over, I would never even ask. Before my daughter moved back home she would ask each and every time she came over if she could bring “the boys” with her. And sometimes I directed her to bring me “MY boys”. She never assumed it was OK to bring them and that was coming over 2-3 times a week for a few hours each time.

    Bottom line, if your selfish and socially clueless friend won’t set boundries for her dog then you are going to have to.

  24. avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

    I don’t care how hot it doesn’t get, if the sun is shining the car will get too hot to leave the dog inside it.

    Human food, in general, will not harm a dog. There are plenty of all-natural dog diets out there that could offer a decent meal for a human. Yes, there are a few things that humans eat that can be harmful/deadly to dogs (garlic, raisins, chocolate), but the majority of human food is safe for dogs.

  25. avatar miranda017 says:

    LW1: Sorry for your loss, Margo’s advice is excellent. My husband was killed on 9/11 you would not believe how many people would tell me what they were doing that day and when they first heard, etc. My reaction is I don’t care and this is not about you. Tell people directly that you don’t wish to hear their stories. So what if it makes them uncomfortable? You suffered a loss not them. You need to concentrate on getting yourself to heal and these clueless people are not helping the process. Plus it feels good to assert oneself and say I don’t have to listen to negative thoughts.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      I understand your viewpoint—but I always thought one of the best things about sharing grief was the sharing part. To tell someone who may have been in the exact same situation as you that “you don’t want to hear their stories” and to act put out, as though they need to get a clue comes across as rather caustic, in my opinion.

  26. avatar sueb1997 says:

    One of my favorites, that I can’t believe no one has posted yet… 

    A minister was asked to dinner by one of his parishioners, who he knew was an unkempt housekeeper. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes didn’t seem clean.  He commented to her about it.  His hostess replied, “They’re as clean as soap and water can get them.”  He felt a bit apprehensive, but blessed the food anyway and started eating.  It was really delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes.  When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled, “Here, Soap! Here, Water!”

  27. avatar wilowist says:

    I love my rat terrier Charlie, but I do not expect my friends to feel the same about him. When I visit them, he stays home. When they visit me, he is confined to another area. I would never leave him in a car under any circumstances. His dishes are two-cycle washed in the dishwasher with my dishes. The woman who needs her dog with her at all times sounds in need of therapy.

  28. avatar Jody says:

    Before I comment I just wanted to say that I think it’s cool that people care so much for their animals. What an incredible gift a family pet can be when it’s appreciated and loved.

    Just my opinion:
    Don’t let your dogs or your kids lick your plates in front of company. If you do that stuff behind closed doors and no one knows any better, so be it. But, there are just some things that are acceptable in your family arena that are considered rude in front of company or guests. Why offend someone’s sensibilities?

    As a sidebar, I would probably be less grossed out by my own dog licking my plate than I would be by yours. Honestly though, I’d still be grossed out by own dog.

    My daughter was trampled by the neighbor’s “friendly” black lab in our own driveway when she was only 3 years old. I had to pull the dog off of her while she was screaming and crying and completely terrified. At her age, this dog was twice her size and all teeth, regardless of how he appeared to me or the neighbor. I was FURIOUS. From that day on, my daughter has had to fight her fear of dogs. She is 15 now, but will give off the wrong vibe to dogs because she has not been able to overcome this (even though I’ve worked with her on it over the years.) Because of this, my parents’ next door neighbor dog (a German Shepherd) got loose one day while she was going in to my mom and dad’s home and proceeded to bite my daughter on her rump while she was scared (sending that vibe to the dog) and desperately trying to enter my parents’ house. Are you going to tell her your dog is friendly just like the neighbor did? I don’t buy it. If you send ANY breed the wrong “vibe” (as my daughter unintentionally did), you can get hurt. They are animals… and not for everyone. My kid did NOTHING wrong. The dog was unleashed and unattended. So, no matter how great you think your dog is… get over yourself and understand that every dog has the ability to show its animal side. I love dogs and have been a dog owner many years. But, I am careful not to offend others because of the love of my dog. He’s not a person… he’s a dog and licks his butt and God knows what else. Just sayin’.

  29. avatar chipgiii says:

    LW1:  Good advice.

    LW2:  I don’t care if the dishwasher does sanitize completely.  I don’t want it licking my plates either.  We teach kids to behave, she needs to understand not everyone loves dogs and there is a time and a place for dogs.  She needs to feed her dog and not assume that the dog is welcome at parties, lunches, dinners, etc.  Sheesh….I would find someone bringing a dog in my house without asking as offensive as someone lighting up a cigarette without asking.  And if the lady did ask, she then LW2 needs to tell her she prefers her not to bring the dog.

  30. avatar Pam Fink says:

    To LW1: That brings to mind how my “darling” mother-in-law used to tell me about EVERY SINGLE truck accident she heard/saw/read about when my husband first became a truck driver. Every. Single. One. I kept thinking, “Come ON, Mom! I already worry about him out there don’t make it WORSE!!”. It’s been 6 years since he started and she’s backed off with the truck accident stories… maybe because he’s been in two himself. Neither his fault, both weather related, no one hurt (except himself) or killed in either one.

    LW2: Again I think of my In-Laws…. they have this dog. So gosh darn tiny I could hold him in one hand. Anyway, they leave food on their plates, and cut it up in teeny tiny pieces just for him. They save food from restaurants for him. They take him with them as much as they can. Licking a plate clean is a normal thing for him to do. They wash it afterwards of course. I…have 3 cats. They eat their food and only their food. I don’t feed them table scraps, I don’t take them everywhere. They are cats. Now I will admit since I had my daughter, I don’t baby my cats nearly as much as I did before she was born. But they live with that.

  31. avatar Anne Whitacre says:

    I am a dog owner and dog lover and dogs do not belong everywhere, just as children do not belong everywhere.  The dog is better in a crate  (or other “safe home place”)  at home than in the car; and dogs do not need to eat off of people dishes — that is why there are dog dishes.    If you talk with a dog trainer, a big part of the problem with dogs is when their owners start treating them like people. 

    Doesn’t this woman have people she can meet at work?  Can’t the dog owner just save her “dishwashing” for after the guest goes home?  there are a lot of answers to this issue.