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I’m not really a pet person because I’m allergic to dogs and cats (also horses, donkeys, and mules but in my experience these pets tend to reside outdoors.) I’m even allergic to hypoallergenic dogs and cats because their saliva gets me all itchy.

These allergies can be inconvenient because I used to love a good cuddle with a kitty but they can also be a #blessing because they give me a great—and legitimate—excuse to leave a party or a dinner early.

“We’re just about to start our slide show from our recent vacation. It should only take a couple of hours,” a host might say.

“Oh I’d love to Becky but, you know,” I’ll respond, pointing to my eyes and nose, maybe giving a bit of a sniffle to drive it all home. “it’s my allergies.”

Although I’m not a pet person, I still find it faschinating to observe those who are: Cat owners who allow their felines to crawl on kitchen counters or hop on their laps at the dinner table and let the cat lick their plates; Dog owners who kiss their canines on the same mouth that the dog has licked their butt with. I start thinking about all the fur, the hair, the poop, the pee, the smells, the fact that the pets don’t wear underwear or shoes and their sitting and crawling over every nice surface. There’s no judgement. It’s just that…

Who am I kidding of course I’m judging.

So too was “Uncomfortable” who wrote to the Toronto Star’s Advice Columnist Ellie:

My partner and I live/work in the city and have a cottage up north for which we bought new furniture. We love to entertain family and friends and try to accommodate our guests’ needs.

We both love dogs, grew up with dogs, and, as adults, have had our own in the past. What we cannot accept is poorly-behaved dogs and their lenient owners: Dogs on the sofa, on beds, begging at the table, allowed in the cottage after rolling in sand right after being in the lake … and more.

We end up policing the dogs while the owners ignore it all. This causes us great discomfort and stress. Close family members requested to visit our cottage, just after Christmas. We wanted to enjoy the holidays with them.

We insisted (after a previous disastrous 24-hour visit when they brought three dogs and we were left cleaning for hours) that this time the visit not include their dogs.

Their immediate response was upsetting: ‘If we can’t bring the dogs then we can’t come to your cottage.’

We said we’d visit them at their cabin instead. However, they later messaged that they now don’t feel welcome at our cottage and their feelings were hurt.

Are we in the wrong here? Should we have done something differently?”

Your cottage, your rules,” Ellie responded. She also pointed out that these rules should have been set from the start, which might sound something like this: “Dogs are welcome IF their owners keep them well-behaved, prevent avoidable dirt brought inside, disallow table-begging, and clean up any messes that do occur.”

I also enjoyed this bit: “I’ve had dogs and visited others’ well-furnished homes,” Ellie says, “never feeling that my dogs’ rights were greater than those of the owners.”

Boom! That’s a perfect bit of shade thrown in the face of “Uncomfortable’s” close family members.

Ellie goes on to suggest that “Uncomfortable” invite the family members out to dinner in the city “to get past the ‘misunderstanding,’” which is very kind and what a mature person would do but I think I’d be so bent out of shape over the fact that these family members had so much gall in someone else’s home and lacked so much courtesy and just general common sense in the first place that I’d just leave the ball in their court and let them, hopefully, come to their senses. 

What about you? Have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation on account of a friend or a family member’s pet? How did you handle it?