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Welcome Meddleheads, to the column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions to email@example.com. Right now. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you’ll also get some advice.
I have four greyhounds that are my family. Is it permissible for me to bring them when visiting friends? May I ask my friends to greet them politely when they enter my home? How far can I go with this “family” before I become "The Crazy Dog Lady”?
Fanging in the Balance
Let me be honest: there are a number of readers who already consider you “The Crazy Dog Lady.” They think it is odd and maybe even sad that you consider your four dogs to be family, and that you would think to bring them along when visiting friends. I’m not sure that you’re ever going to convince them otherwise, not even by posting pictures of your adorable relatives online, or writing plaintive blog posts about their loyalty and compassion. These people are not necessarily cruel animal-haters. They simply have a more rigid, intra-species sense of how human beings are best to apportion their love and regard. To the extent this is possible, I would try not to worry too much about what they think.
There are other readers — a vocal minority — who will think that you have every right in the world to regard your dogs as your family, and to have them treated with the same respect that might be accorded to human family members, even if they do poop and pee on the sidewalk and eat from a bowl.
My own take is that happiness is hard to find, especially when it comes to family. If your greyhounds bring you happiness, and you consider them family, more power to you. And I certainly understand the impulse to want your human friends to connect with them. The best thing you can do is to explain to your friends how you feel, in a friendly and self-aware manner. By all means, ask for what you want.
I would only caution you against making demands (i.e. 'You must let the dogs sniff you for at least 30 seconds before proceeding into the living room…') or making judgments. Why turn your love for your animals into a loyalty test?
I would only caution you against making demands (i.e. “You must let the dogs sniff you for at least 30 seconds before proceeding into the living room…”) or making judgments. Why turn your love for your animals into a loyalty test? That’s the part, frankly, that risks venturing into “crazy dog lady” territory.
Because, as noted, some of your friends may simply not like dogs that much, and may therefore not want four of them in their own home. They may be frightened or allergic or just cat people. Or they may want to interact with you, alone, and feel distracted by the presence of four large animals upon whom you clearly dote. My kids are pretty effing cute. That doesn’t mean I drag them everywhere I go, or expect my friends to relate to them.
Your friends may also feel uncomfortable with the expectation that entry to your home is predicated on greeting your dogs in a particular manner. Maybe it makes them feel silly or self-conscious. Whatever the case, it’s their hang-up. You can’t order them to feel differently. You can only ask. And you should try not to see their reluctance as a negative reflection on them, or yourself. It’s just a different way of moving through the world.
Heck, this is how it is with human beings as well. Many of my friends are Red Sox fans. That does not mean that I have to be one, too. (Thank God.) And it does not mean I should have to try to relate to them while they’re focused on a game, or that I should have stop to worship at the little Red Sox shrines they have set up in the foyers of their homes.
Good friends — of whatever species — are hard to find, and they shouldn’t be squandered over matters of custom or pride.
Okay folks, now it's your turn. Did I get it right, or muck it up? Let me know in the comments section. And please do send your own question along, the more detailed the better. Even if I don't have a helpful response, chances are someone in the comments section will. Send your dilemmas via email.
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