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Pets not invited to the party

Updated: September 9, 2012 6:04AM

Q. I’m a petite 81-year-old grandmother who happens to be afraid of strange, unleashed dogs, and the bigger they are, the more I fear them. If the owners of two such dogs are planning a party for the extended family, say a child’s birthday party or a bridal shower, and the owners know about my fear,don’t you think the decent thing to do is to put the dogs in a bedroom and close the door and leave it closed until the party is over? Remember, these special events are rarities, maybe once or twice a year. At these events, I’m an invited guest, not a drop-in. At these events, is it hygienic to serve food in the presence of dogs? Isn’t that why restaurant and grocery store owners don’t permit dogs to come into their places, according to Health Department laws?

A. Dog Lady is a wannabe-petite woman of a certain age who happens to be afraid of strange, unleashed dogs and the bigger they are, the more she fears them. You are not alone. Yes, if people throw a party and invite you and others, the decent thing is for the hosts to arrange for the containment of the family dogs. No one attending the party should have to worry about animals. This pup procedure is common party etiquette.

A newcomer to this column might think Dog Lady swings anti-dog by her stern tone about animals at gatherings. This take-no-prisoners tone reflects an annoyance with reckless pet owners who allow their dogs to run roughshod and give all canine keepers a bad name. Responsibility goes a long way to fostering good will among those who dig dogs and those who don’t. When companion animals become a divisive force, their power to convey joy and hope is diminished.

Also, a distinguished guest such as you should not have to worry about dogs licking and scrounging too close. Even Dog Lady advises not to playfully smooch a dog on or near the mouth. There are proper boundaries and good hygiene involved with dog-human contact. The Health Department has got it right.

Q. I rent out my family’s lake house and I do take tenants with pets. Our current renters, who have rented from us before, have two bulldogs. This is the first year they’ve taken the house for a full month instead of a week. I had no complaints from neighbors when they were here for the short term. Now the woman next door says the dogs bark furiously when the tenants are not at the house. I don’t want to invade my renters’ privacy, but should I send an email telling them about the noise?

A. Yes, pronto. You owe it to them and your neighbors because it’s very disturbing to hear barking dogs for hours on end. Advise your tenants to provide distractions and comforts for their cooped up pets. Long walks are very beneficial. A tired dog is a sleeping dog.

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