Dear Ann Cannon • I recently dog sat for a good friend of mine. She and her husband were heading out of town and I was asked if I could watch the dogs. I’ve watched the dogs before, mostly to let them out or help feed them dinner if both were stuck at work. I adore these dogs and didn’t think watching them would be much of a problem, so I said yes.
The level of expectations to watch the dogs was a nightmare. Two pages of dog-sitting instructions were provided. I’m also not talking about tiny or medium-sized dogs — both of these dogs are well over 100 pounds each. Three walks a day, with one of the walks being requested around two plus hours. The dogs are also very protective and will lunge at any other human or dog on a walk. The walks usually ended with me in tears because of how the dogs behaved, and with them being much larger and stronger than me, resulted in them almost killing a dog. But, my biggest annoyance was the lack of payment. Is it wrong for me to automatically assume I would be paid? Am I justified in wanting to be paid for this? I could have done other things over that weekend, and now it seems like she and her husband want to continue asking me for dog-sitting favors like this. I also know they pay a professional dog walker during the weekdays, so why wouldn’t I be compensated as well?
How do I go about turning them down for a future dog sitting “favor” due to lack of compensation?
— An Annoyed Dog Lover
Dear Annoyed Dog Lover • First observation: Your friends should have paid you. It was wrong of them not to. Second observation: I never once left two pages’ worth of instructions for the babysitters who watched our five kids when we went out of town. But that’s not the point.
The point is that you’re looking for a graceful way to say “no” if and when your friends ask you again. There are people who will say the best way to handle a situation is to simply say “no” without offering an explanation and leave it at that. I’d be more inclined, however, to tell them to find another sitter. Why? Because while you really, really, REALLY like their dogs (owners always love it when other people really, really, REALLY like their dogs), you nonetheless felt uncomfortable walking them because of their size and their tendency to be people-and-dog-aggressive when leashed. Which is the truth, right?
If you DO decide you’re up to dog sitting for these friends again, tell them politely that you need to be compensated for your time.
And here are a few more opinions from readers about couples who engage in some public displays of affection while at church ...
Dear Ann Cannon • I want to add my two cents to your column on PDA at church. I find that in Utah couples (of all ages!) also tickle each other at the symphony and other cultural events. It’s very distracting, and the cultural organizations are so strapped for cash that they’re never going to ask people to cut it out. But maybe you could drop a hint. I sometimes think two hours of tickling is the price the wife pays to get the husband to pop for the tickets and attend. Anyway, it’s as obnoxious as people constantly checking their phones, as I still see them doing at funerals and other solemn occasions. It’s as obnoxious as wearing stinky perfume or constantly talking. Anyway, just had to vent.
Dear Ann Cannon • Would you rather see them not sitting by each other, not talking to each other and can’t stand to be around each other? I see that a lot, and in my opinion, that is 100 times worse.