Dear Margo: Your Husband Wants To Do What?!

My grandmother is a snoop — help! Margo Howard’s advice

Your Husband Wants To Do What?!

Dear Margo: As a favor to my mother, I agreed to host her mother (my grandmother) for a week or two while my mother and siblings clean her house. I was the logical choice to do this because I’m a stay-at-home mom with a child in school and I live several hundred miles away, so Grandma can’t suddenly leave. (Her dementia is just bad enough that we can’t send her on a cruise.) I try to make things easy on my mom because she’s wonderful and does so much for my family and me.

However, my grandmother is controlling, hoarding, manipulative, narcissistic and a snoop. Seriously, she will go through every drawer, cupboard and box if left unattended. Going through the bathroom cabinet and cupboards is small potatoes for her; she’ll check your nightstand, file cabinets and hall closets. Whatever she finds she discusses with her sister and her bridge buddies. Since we don’t have anything to talk about, my husband and I were thinking of buying a huge sexual device (and I mean huge, like as big as my arm and anatomically correct) and leaving it in his top dresser drawer. My husband thinks the worst that could happen is she’ll try to use it, while I am concerned that she will have a coronary and I’ll have to explain it to the police and my family. What do you think? –Killjoy

Dear Kill: Forgo the fun and games, hon, and tell you husband, the jokester, that planting a sex toy is a bad idea. While I agree that it’s annoying to have anyone going through your things, I wouldn’t provide the old girl with anything more to talk about than your brooms, aspirins and check stubs. –Margo, maturely

Re: The Accessory Dog

Dear Margo: I never thought I would be writing to you, but I need an outside opinion. I have a friend who seems to like disposable dogs. She made the conscious decision to get a puppy from her mother, a breeder of miniature poodles. The puppy lasted fewer than two months before it was given back to her mother. That was a few years ago. Last spring, she decided to acquire a new puppy with her (then) boyfriend. They picked the biggest monstrosity of a puppy I had ever seen — a cross between a lab and a Saint Bernard! Fast-forward a few months: Her relationship ended, she got “stuck” with the dog, and that lasted maybe four more months before she got rid of this dog, too.

This is my dilemma: I am a responsible pet owner, and having worked in the pet industry for four years in my younger days, I know the responsibilities involved in being a “pet parent.” I was taught by both parents (and my experiences) that once you get an animal, “returning” it is not an option. So, I harbor some anger toward individuals who treat pets like disposable playthings. How can I continue to have a friendship with this person when all I can think about is how irresponsible she is? –Responsible Dog Owner

Dear Res: I suspect the well of this friendship has been poisoned by your feelings about her behavior toward her dogs. If she is responsible in other areas of her life, you might put the friendship on a better footing if you tell her of your concerns and perhaps try to educate her. You could point out that her history with dogs is not good, that animals are not to be tossed out like used toys, and that perhaps she’d be happier with no pets. I was going to suggest goldfish, but then I had a vision of them floating on top of the water. Just tell her everyone is not cut out to have pets, and you believe she is one of those people. If she gets what you’re saying, then I think you can be friends again. –Margo, conscientiously


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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49 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Granny does sound like a pain in the neck and I applaud you for helping your mother and siblings out so they can clean out her house and get a much needed break from her needs.  Maybe the snooping is related to her dementia or maybe its a trait she has always had which is just made worse by the dementia.  I’m with Margo, however.  Its only for a week or two and then she will be gone.  I suspect her bridge buddies and sister tune out her stories about her discoveries or mark it up to her dementia.  I can understand the urge to *shock* some sense into her but I suspect she will only add this discovery to her stories about you (a story about a huge sex toy might actually interest her bridge partners and sister in a way your check stubs and old rubber bands do not).  So, either figure out a way to lock some cabinets or drawers or just live with it for the brief time she is there.

    LW#2:  I understand your disgust with your friend’s treatment of her pets.  Talking to her about it might do some good or it might not.  Sometimes a friend’s values or behavior are just so different from what what you find acceptable, you just need to let the friendship die.   

  2. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Can’t you just send the old dame on a cruise anyway? 😉 I’d take Margo’s advice; the more humdrum boring stuff she’s got to “report on,” the better. Otherwise you’re risking opening yourselves up to unpleasant gossip and razzing (and because of her? nah). Consider putting a couple of mouse traps in the backs of drawers instead. Snap! *Ouch*! ;-p

  3. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #2: Couldn’t agree more with Margo. At least have one polite and mature talk with your friend; a chance to inform/educate. If she gets all hissy and defensive…there’s your cue. But hopefully she’ll surprise you by listening and the friendship can be salvaged.

  4. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#1 I can’t imagine why you would want to instigate something with your grandmother, who is already struggling with dementia. You are making a wonderful gesture by having her stay with you. Perhaps this is just the incentive you need to tidy up all your drawers and invest in a nice locking cabinet for those things you’d like to keep private.
    LW#2 I understand your consternation with your friend’s treatment of her pets. I’d recommend mentioning that if she considers another, you’d like to help her in the selection so she picks one that is compatible, and that you’d also like to help her plan so that she can be a more permanent owner.

  5. avatar Lila says:

    I wonder – when someone has no commitment at all to pets that they have assumed responsibility for, how do they treat their children when they become parents? Children are much more expensive and inconvenient than pets.

    • avatar Rapunzel says:

      Honestly, your statement makes as much sense as saying that someone who doesn’t wash and wax their car once a week would not make a responsible parent. You are comparing apples to snow shoes.

      • avatar Alicia Burchett says:

        Cars are not living beings though, animals (and children for that matter) are… 

      • avatar Lila says:

        It’s not a statement, it’s “wondering.” And more like comparing apples to oranges. I know many people see no comparison between pets and children, but Alicia notes correctly that they are both living creatures, and both dependent upon those who have assumed responsibility for them.

        Here’s a statement: I think a person who has displayed a repeat pattern of failure to maintain their responsibilities for a living creature who only needs about 30 minutes of her time daily, and roughly $1500 per year in costs, is in for a very rude awakening when a child comes into her life. Sure, people love their kids, but the “ME” life is over after that, and there’s no going back.

      • avatar John Hlavaty says:

        Sorry, Rapunzel, but your own reply is like comparing apples to the 70’s Match Game.

        As Alicia stated, cars are not living objects.

        But a pet, like a child is.  And if a person views a pet as disposable, it does suggest some caution.  The person is using the animal as “status”.  While the same person will not just dispose of their children, it possibly suggests that the children will always reflect the parent.  So if the child is ill or misbehaves or doesn’t get perfect marks or excels in sports, the parent will feel that the child is making them look bad.  Again, it’s about the status.

        I hope, though, Rapunzel, you are right.  I hope that the person in the LW’s letter is just a horrible example of a pet owner and should not have pets until her life settles down.

        I recall a story where a man gave into his son and got him a dog.  The child had been begging for one.  The man only agreed if the child did all the work.  Now, any GOOD parent will accept that this is not realistic.  The parent should teach the child responsibility and show how to be a caring owner.  Instead, the second the child failed to do ALL the chores in taking care of the pet, the man “sent the pet back”. 

        I was furious.  What did this idiot really teach his son?  That pets are disposable – almost like toys.  If they don’t work, back they go.  And now this poor animal, who may have started to bond (or actually bonded) with the family, is once again abandoned. 

        The reality is that the man did not want a pet.  Period.  He put such strict limitations on getting the pet that he came across as “looking good”.  He got his son the pet – what a good parent.  But the son failed to do ALL the chores.  What a bad son.  And who suffers?  The dog.

        This is why more and more shelters are not allowing this type of adopt and return policy.  Shelters are getting more strict to avoid letting people like this even adopt.  Unfortunately, there are breeders who are all too happy to sell a puppy to any schmuck.  And 5-months later, the puppy is in the shelter.  Sad, really.  To me, it shows how self-centered and uncaring people are.  A true pet lover would NEVER allow for such an event.  See the letter in Margo’s column for 3/25.  Now THAT is a pet lover!

        • avatar Rapunzel says:

          There are car people who do pamper their car as much as any pet lover dotes on their pet. Just because you cannot understand a person’s attachment to their car does not mean it does not exist for them. Just as there are people who have never had children who actually think you can compare a pet to a child when there is no comparison.

          I am an animal person who treated my dog and treat my cats like family.  I still grieve for my dog who died thirteen years ago. Someone may think they want a pet and discover that they are not cut out for it that does not mean they will be a terrible parent. I guess I am just tired of people comparing children to pets and I stand by my original statement.  Certainly anyone who would abuse an animal will abuse a child but I don’t think someone who makes the mistake of adopting a pet should be sterilized.

          People could be misjudging the friend’s situation. My friend was totally against her live-in boyfriend getting a dog. He got one anyway and when they split up he left the dog with her, though she did not want it and had to give it up for adoption. People could judge her like this woman and say she is an irresponsible person for getting the dog in the first place, but she did not get the dog, her boyfriend got the dog and then dumped it on her against her will. Does that mean she would make a bad parent? If she chooses to not explain to everyone her circumstances that is her choice, that people actually judge her without knowing all the facts is a reflection of them and not of her.

  6. avatar Lindy F says:

    Hide all of your medications and personal “stuff” when she is there. Put it in a garbage bag in the basement. She will be bored to tears. Or you might fill your medicine cabinet with marbles and wait to hear them fall all over the place when she opens it. Oh wait, that is mean. Don’t do it.

  7. avatar illxrayu says:

    LW#2 – Perhaps she doesn’t make a good long term dog owner, but she might make a great foster “parent”. 

  8. avatar wendyblueeyes says:

    My mother would snoop when I went on vacation and she was supposed to feed the fish. I found out that my entire family knew how I spent my money, mother had snooped through my bills and checking account statements. Also, I noticed my clothes were out of place in my dressers. Next time I went away, I planted a porn magazine in my pajama drawer, strategically opened to a pictorial of Long John Holmes. When I got back from vacation, my mother couldn’t look me in the eyes. She never snooped in my house again. But I know she was snooping on my sister, she told me how much my sister’s tax refund was. When I told my sister, she was furious. She had locked the papers in a file cabinet, and my mother found the key!

  9. avatar gyurchak says:

    Lila, I wonder, why do some people compare pets and children. They are miles apart, in all aspects.

    LW2, you worked in the industry, you had ‘pet parents’, you’ve been a responsible pet owner probably most of your life. Your friend hasn’t. I’m not implying you should keep the friendship if you’ve got different values, but please understand that if your lives had been swapped, you may have turned out the same (or not). So if you want to be a friend, come at it from that angle to see if you can change her thinking.

    • avatar Lila says:

      g, you wonder why some compare them. I wonder how some people can’t see the comparison.

      Granted – kids are fulfilling (and frustrating!) in ways that companion animals can never be, but animals are alive, they have emotions, they think, they form attachment bonds, they suffer when mistreated. People who think pets are disposable objects, should just not have pets.

  10. avatar Brooke Schubert says:

    LW#2-I completely understand what you are going through.  I have an acquaintance (the wife of a coworker) who treats her pets as disposable.  She insists on purchasing purebred animals who usually have major health issues that is common due to the excessive inbreeding that goes on with purebreds, then she gets tired of the associated vet bills and care and gets rid of the animal.  She’s already gone through two dogs, and she just paid $600 for a Persian cat that she’s already starting to complain about.

    I have two cats I rescued from a shelter, and I am sickened and disgusted by this kind of behavior.  I’ve warned her several times of about the health issues of purebreds and how she’s inadvertantly supporting puppy mills that have atrocious conditions and that she’d be better off adopting a shelter pet that’s a lovable mutt, but she won’t listen.  In all fairness, at least she finds them a home when she’s tired of a pet, but I’m still just stunned by this woman’s lack of love and respect for animals.

  11. avatar amw says:

    LW2’s situation isn’t at all uncommon unfortunately.

    Dogs are a joy to have. They’re faithful, loving and a lot of fun. I think these traits are what attract so many people to having them in the first place.

    What these dog lovers fail to consider is the patience, time and expense also required to peacefully coexist with our canine friends. They must have clean food and water, be potty trained, have plenty of space to exercise. They need to be taken out consistently and allowed to interact with other people and animals. A dogs behavior solely depends on the way its owner treats and trains it.

    It’s easy to forget these things when you’re distracted by the cute puppies being given away outside of the local grocery store. BUT there’s a reason why our shelters and humane societies are overrun with strays. Even with the best of intentions, some dog lovers do not have the time or resources (not to mention space) to properly care for a dog, or pet of any kind for that matter.

  12. avatar Katie themick says:

    LW1, you crack me up. I had no idea how your letter was going to go. You have a great sense of humor and you’re a saint for dealing with snoopy granny for two weeks. Keep on keepin’ on.

  13. avatar mayma says:

    LW1 sounds like a jerk to me. Did she just write in to complain? Or maybe to get sympathy? She wants to punk someone with *dementia*? Charming…

  14. avatar D C says:

    Several years ago my father in law and his new wife (mother in law died i ’97) came to visit from out of state.  We put them up in our bedroom as we were trying to give them royal treatment.  I had a small decorative shelf up on the wall in the room that I had put my baby journals in — journals I had written while pregnant with each of my 3 kids.  they have pretty fabric covers, and the shelf was country style, so it  looked nice.  I was horrified when my father in law announced at breakfast how much he enjoyed reading my books.  Not that anything was “private” — the plan is to give those journals to the children they were about — I just had not even thought about anyone else reading them.  The are precious to me, and meant for my children.  I learned a lesson that day about anyone staying in my home — if you mean something to be private, then you’d better hide it.  We also never have anyone stay in the master bedroom anymore.  We make sure the kids rooms have adequate guest acommodations. 

  15. avatar Maggie W says:

    Many towns and cities have senior day centers where there are games and such.  That might be a nice opportunity for the grandmother to have some focused diversion.

    Before a pet is brought into a home, people should understand that this is a new family member.  This family member only wants to love you and will do anything to please you. But he must be shown what you want.  What is off limits?  He won’t know unless you show him.  Don’t expect him to instantly know your routine.  That takes time.  He will make mistakes.  That’s the perfect teachable moment.   In the beginning, he needs much attention and love and reinforcement.   In the days that follow, include him when it is possible.  No he can’t go to a fine restaurant with you but a trip to the dog park would be fantastic for both of you.  Last.. watch the Dog Whisperer on Nat Geo.  I don’t agree with everything Cesar Millan says, but for the most part he is spot on.  The respect and patience  he has for his clients are great models for anyone thinking about getting a dog .

    Far too often, people get a dog for an accessory and treat it as such.  Then they are disappointed or think something is wrong with the dog.  It’s  usually an owner problem.

  16. avatar Miet Loomans says:

    LW2 – Owning and caring for a dog is not something that people know how to do instinctively… They need to learn through interacting with the animals at a young age ( with a responsible parent guiding ) or having someone teach them how to do it…

    I saw a clear example of that with our dogs… We got our first dog when I was a young teen. He sadly died relatively young, and we got our second dog, who was very much loved and cared for, he was well trained and sweet. While he was still alive, my brother and his girlfriend moved in with my parents. She had never had pets, and met this dog that was already trained, and everyone’s responsibilities toward the dog were well defined ( and so she was not needed to do any of the taking care ). He sadly died, and a bit later she went through a very traumatic experience. She decided she wanted a dog, and because of the trauma, managed to convince my parents. Her choice of a dog was made based on cuteness, not on any study of compatibility with the family situation (which we had done for the 2 other dogs). The results, sadly were predictable: she got a very cute and sweet brown lab. Cute, but very hard to train and with a lot of wickedness inbred… Additionally, instead of using the training method we had used succesfully on our previous dogs, she had this newwave training thingy that consisted of not punishing the dog when he did something wrong. She figured it worked on her kids (very succesfully I might add, wonderful kids), why not on a dog? The cure to a dog grabbing stuff off the table? Don’t leave anything on the table… Seriously? One of the necessities of this training method was that you needed to work with the dog at least an hour a day…
    By the time the dog was 1 year old, he had become bigger, a problem with a relatively small 5-year old and a baby around, was rambunctuous ( see kids and size ) and didn’t listen, because she didn’t spend enough time with him ( they had an appartment in the attic. whenever the dog became difficult she would retreat there and leave my parents to deal with a dog ). My parents were torn, because they wanted to train the dog, and whenever they did their training in front of her, she would freak out because it wasn’t her method.
    We’re now 2 years later… My brother and now wife moved out about a year ago – sans dog – and my parents tried dealing with the dog as long as possible, but it was too late for us to change anything about his behaviour ( yes we could have with a lot of time and devotion, but it was not the dog nor the breed we chose, we were used to border collies that love to obey ). My parents eventually found a new owner for the dog. He proved his worth by performing a 5-hour one-way drive to come and get the dog, and within 2 minutes of entering our yard, he had the dog at his heels in pure adoration… We were all glad that the dog would have a loving new family that obviously new how to deal with him. We still get regular updates, and he looks happy as ever!

    My sil repeated the same with rabbits. Granted, her kid received the rabbits against anyone’s consent ( way to go for those grandparents), but they did decide to keep the animals. Once the rabbits became bigger than handsize, the care, including cleaning out the cages and feeding the things came to my parents and I. Whenever I came home (only over the weekends), first thing I would do is check on the rabbits because I just knew they were going to be out of water and food…

    Conclusion: no-one ever taught her to care for pets, and so she simply doesn’t know how, and also doesn’t really get attached to them enough to care. To make a comparison with kids doesn’t fly. She has 2 children, and those kids are the sweetest, most wellbehaved but still playfull, and intelligent kids I know…

    • avatar Lindsey M says:

      Just one thing — labs are generally some of the easiest to train dogs. They respond to most training methods really well, and “wickedness” also not a common lab trait. However, they are high energy and will push boundaries, so they definitely need a lot of attention, exercise and training. But literally, they are one of the most family friendly breeds for a reason. It just sounds like your friend didn’t know what she was getting into with a lab.

  17. avatar Karen Lauer says:

    I am LW #2, and I am sad to say that the friendship has definitely cooled a little.  I think the dog situation just compounded some pre-existing personality traits that were not compatible with mine.  It’s not really my responsibility to teach her how to modify her behaviour, she just functions on a different wavelength than I do, and that’s okay.  I can’t imagine my life without my dog, and I know that there are others who feel this way regarding their pets,  she is just not one of these people.

    But if I ever hear her mention that she is thinking of getting another dog, I would definitely not hold back in offering my opinion of giving some contemplation to the two dogs she already “owned”, however briefly.


  18. avatar Socalgal says:

    LW2 – I appreciate that you care so much about animals & wished to help your friend.  But to be honest, I think you may have been too hard on her.  She’s made two mistakes with dogs – several years apart, not one after another.  I love animals too, but I’m hesitant to judge someone’s ownership without the details.  As others have responded, she may have not realized the immense work necessary in training a puppy.  For the other dog, she may have found herself unable to properly care for such a large dog.   What’s worse – giving the dogs back so they have another chance of finding a forever home or putting up with a dog that you eventually avoid or neglect because you’re ill-equipped to care of it?

    • avatar Lila says:

      Good point. It is better to find the dog a “forever home.” And I can see getting in over one’s head out of ignorance – once. Wish there had not been a second time.

  19. avatar Blondie says:

    In LW2s letter did nobody catch that the problem pet owner’s mother BREEDS DOGS?  If anything this bimbo should be way beyond knowledgable about what it takes to have a dog.  She’s hopeless, dump her, move on.

  20. avatar tgnorton says:

    Leave a note inside a drawer or cabinet for Grandma telling her how much you love her.  Tell her if she needs help finding something, you are happy to help.

    Bet she will never bring it up, but it might keep her from snooping if she knows you  know.

  21. avatar Kathy says:

    LW2-  This lady bought a puppy and two months later returned it to its mother.  Okay – it happens.  Miniature poodles piddle.  A lot.  Then a few years later – YEARS mind you –  she bought a puppy with her boyfriend.  Obviously, the dog was the boyfriend’s idea (small men like big dogs), and when he took off, she tried to keep the dog but couldn’t.  Okay.  This hardly constitutes a neurotic need to paw through puppies.  Give her a break, and don’t be so darned judgmental. 

  22. avatar Paula says:

    LW!: While I find your husband’s idea amusing, I don’t think in reality it’s a good idea. A better idea would be to install locks on every drawer and cabinet in the house so that she CAN’T open them. Does this woman read? Have any other hobbies? I’d suggest, if she reads, provide her with plenty of books and magazines on a subject she enjoys, or materials for any other interests she might have so that she has plenty to keep her occupied while there. Or, if your husband is determined to do something silly, then I’d say fill a drawer with something your grandmother would find boring. If, say, she has no interest whatsoever in sports, then fill a drawer with sports magazines, baseball cards, etc. If she doesn’t find anything interesting, she’s not likely to look again or tell anybody about it.

    LW2: I have volunteered for an animal rescue group before, and we always allowed pet adopters to have a trial period. If for any reason the new pet didn’t work out, the person was free to return it. Sometimes that happens (unknown allergies, pet doesn’t do well with kids or other pets, living situation changes, etc.), and when it does, the person needs to have a graceful way out that will also ensure that the pet will be cared for responsibly. Giving the poodle back to her mother after less than two months really doesn’t seem out of line to me. I think it’s a reasonable amount of time to see that the dog didn’t fit her lifestyle for whatever reason. Did she make any lifestyle changes during the time she had the poodle – move, job change, schedule change, etc.?

    I agree, though; keeping one as long as your friend kept the large dog goes way beyond any “trial period.” It sounds like she didn’t think things through before getting that dog. Could the boyfriend have been a “fan” of that kind of dog or large dogs in general, and she decided to get the dog to impress him or in the hope of keeping him in her life long-term? Never should they have acquired the animal as a couple if they weren’t in a “committed relationship” for the long haul. I don’t think a large dog is a good “fit” for anyone who doesn’t have a fenced yard with plenty of room for the dog to run around and get plenty of exercise.

    You have an opportunity here to guide her in her next pet selection, if she will allow it. If I were you, I’d remind her that you have plenty of experience with animals and ask her if she’d like some help/guidance/suggestions next time she thinks she wants a pet. Then take a look at her lifestyle (apartment or house? work schedule? travel?) and suggest certain dog breeds that will adapt well to the way she lives. I’ve always been a “cat person” and have found that cats are excellent pets for apartment living. Compared to dogs, they are low maintenance but provide just as much love and companionship as a dog will.

    However, as Cindy said, if your friend gets defensive, then let it go. She’s not going to listen to you anyway!

  23. avatar Mandy McNalis says:

    My grandmother lived with us and was a snoop. Well, she was a snoop until I was roughly 16-years-old and placed a note with large letters in my jounal. I knew she was sneaking it out and reading it, so I simply wrote, “Hi Grandma! You’re not fooling anyone, stop snooping! XOXO” and proceeded to sneak a note into her underwear drawer that said, “How does it feel?”

    If she ever did snoop again she was at least more proficient at it. ;D

  24. avatar stargirl1055412 says:

    I Find lw 2 friend offensive… yeah maybe she didnt grow up around animals thus didnt know the care that went in to it but its a really, really weak excuse. My mom grew up on a small farm you know chickens pigs dogs cats so once on her own she didnt want to have to deal with; it so we werent allowed pets. As a result I LOVE animals and have had at any given moment a rabbit gerbals hamsters, fish and my lovely dog, and you know what? I didnt know anything about what I was doing and what care they needed thats why I went to Several bookstores and bought books on said animals. read it and they all lived in their retoprective lives. On the dog I did a LOT of research on what kind of dog would fit my husband and I lifestyles and traits, ended up getting a pure breed pompom from a wonderful breeder. But even after I picked the breed i got three different books on them. It didnt even take long the internet makes it easy and there are several websites that ask you questions and help lead you to a good breed choice.

  25. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re; L#1: The LW did not say that her grandmother’s dementia was severe, just that it had progressed far enough that the family was uncomfortable sending her off alone on a cruise, She is obviously possessed enough of her right mind to discuss her latest findings with her bridge buddies and her sister in detail, and cognizant of of her surroundings to only engage in her noxious habit when left unattended.

    I nearly caused a premature termination of my keyboard by blowing tea out of my nose when I read LW1’s DH’s suggestion. It sounded precisely like something my husband, or I, would dream of while my own incredibly nosy (and definitely not senile mother) was visiting. She has gone through my closets, tried on my clothing and shoes, tested my make-up, used my perfumes, and gone through my medicine cabinets and drawers. She reads letters too. I don’t care if the old woman is suffering from a bit of dementia, she is out of line, and her behavior is not acceptable.

    And it’s 2011…I’d expect that granny informing the neighbors of the existence of an arm-sized, realistic dildo in your house might result in one of two reactions: complete indifference…or discrete inquiries as to where said item was purchased…and, just perhaps, if it was just for giggles or, well, mmm, a useful sort of toy, dependent upon the closeness of your relationship with the neighbors, and everyone’s sense of the absurd. Good grief, it’s not like LW1’s husband suggested putting kiddie porn in the drawer. Reputations…She sounds like an incorrigible old thing, however, and it’s only, thankfully, for two weeks. Better laughing than pulling your hair out.

  26. avatar 137lbs says:

    LW2 – That’s so sad. Poor doggies. I would have a hard time remaining friends with that person, too. It might be good to avoid them for a while, and if they ask, tell them the truth, that you are having a hard time getting past how she treats pets.

    LW1 – AWESOME!! I am totally behind you on this!! Contrary to what other commenters said, I think doing that would definitely distract her from further snooping. Having been snooped on in a major way TWICE in my life, by a MIL and my uncle’s then-new wife, all I can say is that if grandma is shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you! – it serves her right.

    Some people have a LOT of nerve, though, and it might not necessarily stop them. My aunt, for instance, went through my clothes and then expressed concern to other relatives (but not to my face) about the fact that I had one lacy camisole (in RED no less!), which she only could have found by digging all the way through my closet. 

    The last time my MIL stayed with us (invited herself over for a week), I set up my closet on purpose so that no one could go through it without me noticing. Sure enough stuff was moved. She didn’t even try to hide it. She got really flustered and denied everything when I asked what she was looking for in my closet. That was 2 years ago, I have not let her visit since. We are moving even further away now, but if she should ever invite herself for a visit again, I decided I would let her come and I would be nice, but we will just lock everything without further comment.

    If she ever to be left unattended even for a minute (presumably you won’t have your eye on her ever second), locking stuff up is really the only thing you can do. Unless you lock her IN her room. Which would be mean.

    Oh wait, my kid just suggested using motion detectors (they make cheap toy ones at SpyGear) at “sensitive” places like file cabinets, etc.

  27. avatar Claire Saenz says:

    LW#1: I believe I smell a fake letter here. This one just doesn’t ring true.

    LW#2: Here I’m a bit baffled by Margo’s advice, as it doesn’t seem as though the “disposable pet” lady is currently showing any inclination to get another pet–the problem is the LW’s lingering sense of disgust over past actions that may never be repeated. What is she supposed to say?: “hey, in case you ever think about getting another dog, don’t do it?” LW either has to accept that this friend made a couple of very bad choices and let go of the matter, or end the friendship.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      “LW#1: I believe I smell a fake letter here. This one just doesn’t ring true.”-Claire Saenz

      O my. Obviously you’ve never lived with terminally nosy people. My younger sisters would snoop my room constantly, especially when I was going to college and working full-time, and therefore frequently absent from the house. They made it a habit to read my diary (which contained nothing of interest…poor babies), try on my clothing and shoes, investigate the contents of my drawers, and permanently borrow make-up items, the pricier the better. My mother would do the same thing…and continued in this thrilling occupation when she came to visit, always announcing after the fact, “O, I love these shoes (which had not yet been worn by me, had been dust-bagged and boxed, and in the middle of a small, ordered stack), or this blouse. I tried them on and they fit perfectly! I hope you don’t mind!”. We also have a collection of limited edition books, which are carefully bagged. We absolutely do not mind if people want to look at them…if they ask first, and wash their hands before handling them. Mom knows this, and surprise surprise, will cheerfully peruse them with her unwashed, cigarette reeking, nicotine and make-up stained hands.

      As for the enormous, realistic dildo…LW1’s husband only made the wry suggestion they leave one for Granny to find, and I would guess the LW’s letter was possibly a way to vent her frustrations at having her private life scrutinized and dissected in conversation by her grandmother, not a serious query as to whether or not they should stash a Gargantuan phallus to shock granny into appropriate behavior.

      O, another thought on the whole issue of sexual devices and reputations…should granny find even a Day-Glo Vibrating Pearl Rabbit of average proportions, and spew her news to all and sundry, the best response to the inquisitive might be a cheerful, “O, we put it there specifically for her to find…maybe she’ll stop prying now…but I doubt it!”.

      The humor-challenged abound on WoW of late.

  28. avatar Jon T says:

    I gotta say people like LW2’s friend really bug me. I can understand getting one dog and realizing that it’s not a good fit for you. But repeatedly? If for no other reason than for the next dog’s sake, please say something to your friend!

  29. avatar justice31 says:

    I have to say I am absolutly fed up with people who want pets but don’t want the responsibility of caring for them.  Case in point, my step daughter just had to have a miniture German shepard mix puppy.  I said “no,” daddy dearest said “yes” so we ended up with a puppy.  She loved this puppy for a week before moving out with a boyfriend, leaving the puppy to her daddy who also doesn’t get that a dog needs walked every day.  Needless to say, she only gets walked if I walk her.  Cuddle’s had two litters of pups and of course my step son had to have one.  His puppy turned out to be a huge dog who desperatly needs walked at least twice a day, but there is no one here to do it except me and the dog is too strong for me to walk for a long time.  My step son also is under the belief that since cuddles is not his dog, he doesn’t have to let her out while I am at school or feed her.  So we have ruined hard wood floors because we had to have dogs.  I don’t like dogs, but I do my part.  I walk them when I can, I feed both of them and read books on how to train dogs.  Cuddles had a litter of pups born on Valentines day.  They have just been weened.  Guess who cleaned up the poop last night?  Not any of the dog lovers at my house.  Now my step daughter is completly grown and has two pure bred rottwielers who don’t get walked and live out there lives in cages at the flop house where she stays at.  The day she moves back home with two rotts that I will have to care for is the day I need to pack up and move on.  She has tried to get places on her own, but no one wants pure bred rotts to move in too, especially since she is big on making sure her dogs are tough guard dogs, like rotts aren’t naturally territiorial enough.

    Did I mention that I am not a dog lover.  I only take care of the dogs because they are part of the family and it is what a good person should do if they take on a pet.  So it sucks to be me and have to care for these animals that I don’t even particularly like.  I like cats and birds.  Why? Because cats are mostly self sufficent, and the smaller breeds of birds are pretty easy to care for as well. 

  30. avatar Shirley T says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that LW1 stated that it was her and her husband who wanted to pull this prank?

    From first-hand experience dealing with someone suffering from dementia, it is a mean trick. Please reconsider and just lock the drawers. Or empty them.

  31. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#2: I am an animal lover. I have twelve rescue cats (all spayed and neutered, all strictly indoor) and have had many, many others in my many years as a pet owner. I am not a member of PETA, because the organization’s stated goals are contradictory (no pets for anyone…but love and care for animals. If people don’t value their animals as companions and family members…the term “pets” is so easy to misconstrue and use as a pejorative…why would they value domesticated creatures such as cats, dogs and horses? I am a firm believer in the curtailing of the pure-bred industry due to the genetic monstrosities created by inbreeding, puppy and kitten mills, the thousands of “defective” animals that are casually destroyed each year by breeders as unfit for sale or breeding purposes (this goes on in the horse industry too), the sale of sick and genetically defective animals at chain pet-stores in malls, and “road-side” breeders who insist on mating their “perfect specimens”, refuse to spay or neuter, and provide buyers whose backgrounds are never investigated with Wal-mart papers for their “pedigree” purchases.

    All of the above is to explain that I truly value animals as living creatures that feel, both physically, mentally and emotionally, whether they are human or not (after all, we are nothing more than highly evolved…a sometimes dubious notion…animals ourselves). They can suffer in almost every way that we can…except that they are unable to rationalize, tell time, or understand how and why their human owners grow tired of them, or are incapable of, or no longer interested in remaining their friends. They really are not that much different than children, in that we choose them, and they have no choice in the matter, they are largely helpless as to what becomes of them, or as to how they are treated or trained (raised), and they can be abandoned with ease. The main difference between animals as pets and children would be that pets are, by law, considered to be physical property, and valued as such…while children are human beings, and considered to be living, breathing creatures with actual rights. If someone tortures, burns, mutilates and kills several dozen cats in a given area…he is likely to be brought up on charges of property damage, and may have some animal cruelty charges brought against him as well. In the first case, fines will be assessed based on the legal value of the animals (in the case of non-pedigree cats, this can be as little as $15), and there will probably only be probation and possibly community service. In the second, perhaps fines, a suspended, very light sentence, probation, and community service.

    Of course, the animals suffered hideously, and with as little understanding as a child would have, and their owners suffered as well. If the man had done this to even one child…I do believe the consequences would be obvious.

    Now, LW2, your friend initially attempted to raise a puppy that she got from her mother, who actually bred the dog she received. It didn’t work out (no explanation given as to why), and she returned the puppy…to her mother. She didn’t dump it at the pound, or worse, on the side of the road, or give it to a random stranger…she returned it to its original source. Strangely, I have heard of very reputable breeders who insist on a cause like this in their contract with a buyer: if the animal does not work out within a given time period, it is to be returned to the breeder rather than being irresponsibly disposed of in some unthinkable manner. I know our bull terrier we got when I was a child came with such an agreement, and so did the Himalayan cat I had years ago.

    Then your friend waits several years, gets a boyfriend, and ends up with a really huge dog that she and the man picked out. Unless you were a fly on the wall, you can’t possibly be privy to who’s choice the dog was, how much persuasion, coercion, threat, and pleading went into the conversation, and whether or not the guy made one of those, “It’s my dog, I promise to take care of it” speeches. Then, a few months later, he leaves, and he abandons the dog with her. I’d say she tried to keep up with it if she held on for four months before “getting rid of it”. Also, you don’t mention what she did with it, so it is hard to gauge just how irresponsible she was regarding the animal. She really might have been stuck with it…especially if the idea, and the type and size were primarily his idea, and then he ran off an left her to deal with his obligations.

    She hasn’t gotten another animal, so what, precisely, is troubling you? Animals are not disposable, true, but it also very true that occasionally, just as in human-human relationships, human-animal relationships do not work out. Saying that you never give up on a pet once it is yours can be a recipe for absolute disaster. We’ve had to give up one cat…he was sweet with humans, but he was extremely animal aggressive (hand raised with other cats and dogs, neutered at 6 months, never abused or mistreated). He left two of our cats with permanent scars, and made another so ill from stress we nearly lost him, and ended up with a $2500 vet bill to save him from collapsed intestines and heart failure. We kept Teddy for six months, and with many tears and much sadness, returned him to the organization from which we had agreed to take him on a trial run. He has since found a home as an only cat…after several owners. There are a number of circumstances in which even a much loved four legged family member may have to go to a new home…not because they’re considered disposable, but because you can’t explain, or rationalize, to a dog, or a cat, new or very different events or presences in the home. They are not human, and it is cruel to anthropomorphize.

    I would end my friendship with her, not because she is irresponsible (having two dogs, several years apart, under very different circumstances, responsibly returning one to the breeder, who also happens to be her mother…and giving up the other…after her ex-boyfriend apparently dumped the entire responsibility on her…to some unknown person or agency does not indicate that she considers dogs playthings or is irresponsible), but because you have problems with your perceptions and opinions of her. If you don’t know all of the facts of the second dog situation, perhaps you should ask her…it might clear the air. But clearly, your resentment of her and anger at her is doing neither her nor you any favors.

  32. avatar carol grzonka says:

    lw2-i’m curious.  if your ‘friend’ had a child, and a long-standing pet that became aggressive to that child, which would you suggest that she rehome?  that’s the problem with your aggrievement.  there are good reasons to have to send a dog to another home, not the least is for the animals own welfare, and you don’t recognise them.

  33. avatar Jane M says:

    Every single one of the behaviors LW1 bemoans in her grandmother can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Perhaps Gran has been ill longer than the family knows.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      True, but by your logic, my sisters both developed Alzheimer’s in their early teens, and my mother was afflicted in her early thirties. Not everyone who exhibits offensive behavior is suffering from a debilitating, progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s (not even the elderly) or mental illness…and, conversely, not everyone so afflicted causes others to suffer due to noxious behaviors.

      Old does not mean sweet, saintly and suddenly bestowed with halo and wings. If one was a wretch in one’s youth and middle years, there is a high probability that one will continue to be a wretch in one’s vintage years as well. Let the LW be. Neither she nor her husband has done anything unconscionable to Granny, it was merely suggested, and it was funny…and I would guess she was venting. She is allowed.

  34. avatar Davina Wolf says:

    Studies have repeatedly shown that people who abuse animals tend to abuse humans, and this forms the basis for the increased pursuit and legal prosecution of animal abusers.
    My mother and sister always treated pets as disposable objects, dumping them off at shelters at the first sign of inconvenience, where they’re almost certain to be killed.  Both of these women have mistreated me all of my life, as well as others, and I long ago distanced myself from both of them.  
    I was so happy when an old friend from college resurfaced in my life, but when she told me she euthanized her family dog because it would be too much trouble to move him across town with them into another house, I’m reconsidering if I want her as a friend.         

  35. avatar SHORESLADY says:

    Here’s a novel twist on the snooping great-grandma. Announce that you’ve decided to take advantage of her initiative and use the week for Spring Cleaning.  Sit down with her and go through cupboards, closets; finally sort out all the things you’ve meant to send to charity, or to your kin.  Make her bad habit your ally in doing something you’ve probably had on your list for a while (who doesn’t need to clean out the closets?).  Now her behavior is out of the shadows, you get to tell her stories associated with your family treasures and hear hers, and when she leaves you’ve got a clean house.  (When you’re done, send Gran to my house, I could use the help.)

  36. avatar Diagoras says:

    If I had a snooping grandma, I think I’d do this – on the inside of several cabinets and drawers she’s clearly not supposed to be into, I’d put some sticky notes in there that say, HEY GRANDMA, STOP SNOOPING THROUGH MY THINGS, YOU OLD BAT!

    The beauty of this is that she can’t get mad without revealing what she’s been up to!