Dear Annie: While my leashed dog and I are bonding and enjoying our time together, people will virtually block our way and — without asking me — begin to vigorously pet my dog and interact directly with her. My dog is small and fluffy, and strangers, particularly kids, feel free to approach and play with her.
These encounters are often not welcome or convenient for me. Sometimes I only have enough time to walk the dog before I have to be elsewhere, and other times, frankly, I'm just not in the mood. My dog doesn't care one way or the other about the attention, but her long hair gets sticky, smelly and dirty when it's stroked by unclean hands continually.
I know other pet owners experience similar problems, but feel too guilty to deprive dog lovers of their fun. Are there any tactful and effective ways for me to keep people's hands off my dog without sounding hostile? — Need to Get Moving
Dear Need: No one, particularly children, should approach and pet a strange dog without permission. It is dangerous. It's perfectly OK for you to say, "Please don't pet my dog." If you say it nicely, but firmly, most people will not consider it hostile. They will think you are protecting them or your dog from potential harm. We have also heard about pet owners tying a yellow ribbon on the dog's collar to indicate that the dog needs to be left alone. If this is not common practice in your area, feel free to inform everyone that when your dog is wearing the yellow ribbon, it means she needs her space. We think they will appreciate the information and respect your decision. Kids especially love having "special knowledge" and will be sure to pass it along.
Dear Annie: This is for "Sad Nana," who says her granddaughter isn't allowed to bring presents back to her Dad's house because it might create resentment with her stepsister, who rarely gets presents.
Nana needs to step up to the plate. How can any grandmother buy gifts for one child and not the other, even if she is not a blood relative, when they are living in the same house? She is just pitting the girls against each other. I want to tell her to open her heart. This is an opportunity for her to have a second granddaughter. She could be a special person in this young girl's life, providing a true gift of friendship and love that will last a lifetime. The girl will always remember Nana's kindness, and hopefully she'll pass on the same thoughtfulness when she becomes a grandmother.
We should be building bridges and teaching our young the right values in life. These girls are now sisters and should be treated as such. Nana should be helping to cement this family, rather than separating them. If money is an issue, both gifts can be smaller. Kids don't need so many things anyway. — Nana of Seven
Dear Nana: We are with you 100 percent. It is so much better to be kind to one another.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.