The Morning Call (Sunday)

Pets are family — and family can wait in the spare room

- Judith Martin Miss Manners To send a question to the Miss Manners team, go to missmanner­ or write them c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

There is a debate among a local group on the topic of a dog owner’s responsibi­lities when hosting an event in their home. One faction says, “My dogs are part of my family, so they’re going to be interactin­g with guests.” Another faction says, “As host, your responsibi­lity is to your guests first, so your dog should be in a kennel or outside.”

My own thought is that our dogs are part of the family, but that we have a responsibi­lity to train them in at least basic manners (such as commands like “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “drop it”). Also, if I invite someone who hasn’t been to my home previously, it is my responsibi­lity to tell them about the dogs so that they can decline if they have allergies or are otherwise uncomforta­ble with dogs.

I believe I understand my responsibi­lities as a dog owner, but I’m not sure of them as a host.

Gentle reader: It seems to Miss Manners as if you have that reversed: namely, that you know your responsibi­lities as a host (looking out for the comfort of your guests) but not those of pet ownership (teaching family manners).

Frisky is welcome to roam the house when guests you know to be compatible with her are present. But there are also times, and methods, for managing interactio­ns among family and guests — many of which do not leave anyone looking in the window with sad eyes while the rain pours down on them.

For instance, you expect your spouse to curtail a fixation on devices to spend time with the guests; you expect the children to come down and say hello; and you do not include your brother because he had a bad breakup with one of the guests 20 years ago.

Neither you nor your family members interpret any of those as a disavowal of kinship. Why, then, do so many pet owners think it questions their relationsh­ip with Frisky to put her in the bedroom for a few hours with her food and water? She might prefer that to having to listen to your college roommate telling the same story every time.

Dear Miss Manners:

Several weeks ago, I sent a lunch invitation to a family whose sons are in both of my sons’ classes. The mother accepted the invitation, and yesterday (two days before the lunch), I sent her a reminder text.

She replied that she will check her calendar, as one of the sons may have a track meet. Then she informed me that she has three additional, older children, and asked if they were invited. I extended the invitation to them and asked if she could confirm the number with me as soon as possible.

The lunch is tomorrow. Today, I sent a text asking how many chairs I should set out. She replied that she didn’t yet know, and — here’s the part I am a bit miffed about — that her kids are vegan. How would you suggest I avoid getting myself into this type of scenario in the future?

Gentle reader:

A bit miffed? This person invited extra people, would not tell you if they were actually coming, and then asserted that if they did come, they would need a special menu. Miss Manners would be livid.

But since you asked, she does see your slight misstep. After you issued the original invitation, the mother accepted. Your reminders only served to exacerbate the situation. Twice.

Next time, quit while you have the answer that you want. Certainly, this person might still have shown up with extra children and their dietary constraint­s, but at least with no warning, you would not have had to scramble in advance — and she might actually have felt some embarrassm­ent.

Dear Miss Manners:

Can you please advise me on how to quickly and politely end a call with a customer service agent after the issue I’m calling about has been resolved?

The agents often continue to ask if they have addressed all my needs and if there is anything else they can do for me. This feels like a script that they are required to read.

I would like to just get off the phone. Sometimes I will just say, “Thank you, you’ve been helpful” and then hang up, but that doesn’t quite feel right. What do you think?

Gentle reader: That of course it is a script, not an attempt by the agents to prolong the pleasure of conversing with you. And that it is not much of a burden to reply, “Thank you, goodbye.”

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