Family's negligence puts dad in the doghouse

Monday, August 13, 2012 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: Almost two years ago our son (youngest of four) who is now 17-1/2, pleaded with us to get a dog until we finally reluctantly agreed.

I was against this idea, unless certain conditions regarding the daily care of the dog were met by our son. I wanted to create a contract with written rules and regulations regarding the dog that my son would sign and have to live by.

My wife strongly disagreed and after further pressure and promises that our son and my wife would be responsible for taking care of the dog, I agreed to get one if they would hold up their end of the bargain.

Fast forward to today. Yup, you got it, guess who is not fulfilling their end of the bargain and guess who gets stuck with taking care of the dog on a daily basis? Me.

My wife can't bear the thought of disappointing our son by "taking away his dog." I am more inclined to say, "Too bad, he needs to learn a life lesson here."

Because I work from home, I have inherited this big and shaggy problem. I made it crystal-clear before we got the dog that I absolutely did not want one, and was overwhelmingly assured I wouldn't have to deal with it. Boy was I wrong!

Any advice? I want to keep the peace within the family and if I got rid of the dog that would cause some trouble. If I could only travel back in time...

Any ideas? — Desperate Dad

DEAR DAD: Actor Ben Affleck said in an interview that when he begged for a dog as a kid, his mother made him "walk" an imaginary dog for a week. When young Ben missed two days of walking his phantom dog, she didn't let him get a real one. Smart mom.

You deserve a change — and so does the dog.

Say, "This isn't working out. This poor dog is not getting the attention he deserves, and you have not stepped up in the way you agreed to before we got him. Unless things change radically I'll have to find a new home for him with someone who will really lavish attention on him."

Take a month to see if the family can adhere to a schedule where you all share the dog-duties (it shouldn't fall to any one person). If they don't care enough to step up, they are basically turning stewardship of this animal over to you. And so you will have to do what you think is best.

If your son is headed off to college, you will land with this canine in your lap all over again.


DEAR AMY: I am "married" to a friend on Facebook. We've both had this Facebook status for a long time. We used to be really close but lately we have not spoken to each other.

I hear stories from our mutual friends because she does not tell me anything. I don't want to be fake-married to her anymore.

Besides the fact that she has changed, it also just doesn't look professional to be married when you are not. I want people to know my real relationship status, not one I did just for fun.

We have not talked in weeks; how can I just bring it up? I want to distance myself from her but I don't want to cut her out completely. How can I tell her without getting in too deep or pushing myself further away? -- Torn

DEAR TORN: You don't have to discuss this. Change your Facebook status and if she notices and contacts you, you need only tell her "I don't think it's a good idea any more to say I'm married when I'm not."


DEAR AMY: "Flustered Fiancee" wondered if she should include her future husband's sister as a bridesmaid, even though they didn't know one another well. You said she should.

Get your head out of the sand, Amy. Bridesmaids should be women who are close to the bride -- not people she barely knows. -- Baffled

DEAR BAFFLED: I disagree. Ideally, the bridal party should represent the marrying couple's past and future.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

Filed under: Lifestyles
Tagged: advice | ask amy