Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: Dog Days

Whenever my best friend comes to stay, she always brings her horrible, slobbery dog. Can I tell her to leave it at home, or is that just too mean?

Share

Dear Virginia,

This may sound trivial but I have a very good friend who, two years ago, acquired a large dog. She dotes on this horrible beast and last year she came to stay for a weekend in my flat, bringing it with her. It howled all night, peed on my carpet, scratched the paint off my doors and slept on her bed, leaving masses of dog hairs. She’s proposed coming again – but do you think I could  ask her to leave the dog at home? I don’t like dogs anyway, but this one is particularly horrible. Or am I just being mean?

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Emma

Virginia says...

Dogs. Don’t get me started, as they say. I’m with you on this one, so I can imagine just how you feel. I can just cope with small ones, but big ones, with their drooling mouths, their smelly breath and their great wagging tails, aimed always at clearing any low surface of all its precious ornaments, not to mention the way they’re always either sniffing up your skirt or licking all your make-up off with their slobbery, rasping tongues… yuck.

But: she loves him. And you love her. And we all have to put up with our friends’ obsessions, I’m afraid. If your friend had an appalling two-year-old who rampaged round your flat breaking things, kept you awake screaming at night, burst into tears whenever you approached and laid waste to all around him, would you ask her to leave him at home? No. If she had married a dreadful, ranting, prejudiced, burping, sexist and obnoxious man, whom she adored, would you ask her to leave him at home? It just wouldn’t be possible.

It’s easy to say, “Tell the friend to put it into kennels.” But it’s not that simple. You’re imposing on your friend not just expense, but you’re asking her, temporarily, to dump a whole relationship. The dog will be feeling abandoned and unhappy; your friend will be worrying herself sick about it. She’ll feel guilty at abandoning it. She’ll miss it. This is a big downside, I imagine, to a weekend with an old friend. You’re also saying to your friend: “I love you but not the things you love.” Can you make a friendship conditional like this? I don’t think so.

Either ask her again, but try to minimise the damage by covering her bed with an old sheet, getting some earplugs and laying down a few very simple ground rules such as no scratching at the doors. Ask her for advice, perhaps, on how to minimise the disruption – “to make it nicer for poor old Rover,” you could say, “who didn’t seem to have such a good time the last time you brought him.” Or, in future, make arrangements to see her on neutral ground between your two homes. Could you share a rented cottage in the country for a weekend perhaps? Or just make day trips together?

The dog may “just be a dog” to you, but to your friend he is a vulnerable child, a playful husband, a protective father and a dog. You either have to drop your friend or see much less of her, or lie through your teeth and, by the regarding the dog as some kind of disability, do your best to accept this wretched animal as part of her.

Virginia Ironside’s new book is No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses (Quercus £14.99)

Readers say... Be honest with her

As the owner of a largish, very friendly, supposedly short-haired hound and knowing the friends we have who are not really dog-friendly, I would suggest you are honest and ask her to leave her dog with a dogsitter or at a kennels. Dogs, like children, do need boundaries (I’m still setting these – as a male he answers more readily to my husband) and respond well to discipline, but it doesn’t sound as though your friend has the mastery of her dog and it’s unfair of her to expect you to have them both to stay if she doesn’t respect your home. I wonder, too, whether your friend’s dog was unsettled being away from home, which may give you a solution to the problem. You can suggest that her pet seemed unhappy last time and that she would be better coming alone.

C Hammond, by email

Try a white lie

Of course you can ask her not to bring her dog – it’s your house! You could come straight out and tell her the truth, or you could say you’d love to have her visit, but you’ve found you’re allergic to dogs. It’s one of these “white lies” we all have to tell occasionally, which harms no one, and may help preserve your friendship.

Bella Turner, by email

Next week’s  dilemma

Dear Virginia,

I’m 35 and I’ve had radiation therapy for cancer and the resulting scarring means that I find it very difficult to stop leaking urine at times during the day. I really need to be near a loo all the time and as a result my life has been severely hampered. I’ve tried pads, but I’m always worried about the smell. Because I can’t go out very far my kids have to stay indoors all the time and it’s not good for them. I’ve tried every doctor, but no one can help and they just say I must “live with it”. But I can’t. Do you have any suggestions? 

Yours sincerely,

Maggie

What would you advise Maggie to do?

Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose dilemma is published or whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor