Dogs need rules, too

Ottawa Citizen - - YOU - EL­LIE TESHER Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day el­[email protected]­tar.ca @el­liead­vice

Q My part­ner and I live in the city and have a cot­tage up north for which we bought new fur­ni­ture. We love to en­ter­tain fam­ily and friends and try to ac­com­mo­date our guests’ needs.

We both love dogs, grew up with dogs, and, as adults, have had our own in the past. What we can­not ac­cept is poorly be­haved dogs and their le­nient own­ers.

We end up polic­ing the dogs while the own­ers ig­nore it all. This causes us great dis­com­fort and stress.

Close fam­ily mem­bers re­quested to visit our cot­tage just after Christ­mas. We wanted to en­joy the hol­i­days with them.

We in­sisted (after a pre­vi­ous dis­as­trous 24-hour visit when they brought three dogs and we were left clean­ing for hours) that this time the visit not in­clude their dogs. Their im­me­di­ate re­sponse was up­set­ting: “If we can’t bring the dogs then we can’t come to your cot­tage.”

We said we’d visit them at their cabin in­stead. How­ever, they later mes­saged that they now don’t feel wel­come at our cot­tage and their feel­ings were hurt.

Should we have done some­thing dif­fer­ently? Un­com­fort­able

Your cot­tage, your rules. You should’ve posted your bound­aries from the start, as in, “Dear Guests: We’ve cre­ated a spe­cial home away from home with new fur­nish­ings and a wish for the same re­spect for our sur­round­ings as in the city. Dogs are wel­come IF their own­ers keep them well be­haved, pre­vent avoid­able dirt brought in­side, dis­al­low ta­ble-beg­ging and clean up any messes that do oc­cur.”

That way, ev­ery­one’s fore­warned that it’ll oth­er­wise be a short­ened, and sole visit.

Mean­while, since you care for and want an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship with your miffed fam­ily mem­bers, you need to tell them so. Sim­ply state that ev­ery­one’s en­ti­tled to dif­fer­ent pet- and cot­tage-life­styles, but you re­gret not stat­ing your ways sooner.

Agree to get to­gether in the city, out for a din­ner as your guests (mean­ing that you pay) to get past the “mis­un­der­stand­ing.”

Next year, ar­range early to visit their cabin.

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