Dear Annie: We live in a friendly town. Yet, we have some residents who are terribly disrespectful people of other people's property.
We've had dogs and love dogs, but we would never think of taking our dog to our neighbor's lawn to do its duty. We've consulted several experts and they all say that the dog's urine can cause brown spots on the lawn. We even paid to have new sod put in. We've asked people not to do this, but the minute our back is turned, they ignore us.
We aren't allowed to put up "No Dogs Allowed" signs, so that doesn't help. But we have a number of dog parks these folks can use instead of our lawn. Apologies to those dog owners who do the right thing, but how do we get inconsiderate dog owners to behave? — Totally Confused
Dear Confused: Dogs "mark" their territory and if they have used your lawn in the past, they are likely to make a beeline for it again.
Are there laws in your "friendly" town that prohibit dogs from using private lawns? If so, report each incident to the police. Another option is to go outside whenever you see someone coming with their dog and not leave until the owners pass by completely. However, you can't always be there each time, so here are some other suggestions: Spray a diluted mixture of cayenne pepper (or ammonia, vinegar or citrus) and water on your lawn, or look for a commercially available dog-repellant spray. Get a motion-activated sprinkler. Build a fence. We hope one of these works.
Dear Annie: My child died recently. My friends tell me they don't know what to say. I don't know which is worse, someone who says something inappropriate or someone who says nothing.
I know how they feel. I used to be someone who didn't know what to say to a person whose loved one had died. I shudder to think of how often I might have said something inadvertently hurtful or remained silent because "they might be having a good day and I don't want to ruin it for them."
I have news for people — you can't ruin our day. Mine was ruined the day my child died. When you say nothing, it makes us feel that our loved one's life was insignificant. But this person was important to us. This person mattered.
Here is my advice for what you can say: "I'm sorry about your loss." Include the person's name or their relationship if you can. Whatever your version of "I'm sorry," be it in the form of a hug or in words, is perfect. That's it. That's enough. It doesn't matter how the person died. However, if you have an anecdotal story about this person, please share it. We love to hear stories about our loved one. Send a text. If there is an online tribute to this person, sign it. Also, cards are wonderful. I don't know what is the statute of limitations on expressing condolences, but we are still receiving cards months after the event, and they are still comforting.
The family holds these things close. We are struggling to put our lives back together without this person in it. — Sad
Dear Sad: If you haven't already done so, please contact The Compassionate Friends (compassionatefriends.org). Our deepest condolences on your heartbreaking loss.
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.
Photo credit: William Warby