Ask Marge

Help! I Don’t Want My Friend to Bring Her Dog Over.

published Apr 4, 2019
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Dear Marge,

My friend is incredibly devoted to her dog, and feels like when she is not at work, she wants to bring her dog everywhere with her, including my house. Her dog is great, and when it is just the two (or, I should say three) of us hanging out, I don’t mind as much. I mean, she does interrupt our conversations to tell him what a good little man he is, or give him a treat, which is kind of annoying, and there’s having to clean up all the dog hair after she leaves, but I can deal with those things.

I just really don’t want her to bring the dog when other people are coming over.

For one thing, I worry that my other friends might be allergic or uncomfortable with a dog, but also, I really don’t want to deal with the dog hair and disruption of having a dog wandering around at my party. How can I let her know I want her to leave her dog home without offending her?


Say No to the Dog

Dear No to the Dog,

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must first tell you I have two big dogs, who I think are the greatest creatures on earth. Were it appropriate, I would happily post pictures and tell you loads of adorable stories about them right now, because … because I am a pet parent. Just like baby parents, I sometimes forget that not everyone is enthralled by the unbelievably cute thing my Zoey did last night.

In fact, there are many ways in which pet parents should hold themselves to at least the same (if not more stringent) standards as baby parents. Like, they should ask themselves, “Would I bring my human child to this gathering?” In your friend’s case the question would be: “Would I ask to bring my kid to every get-together with my friend?” Clearly not.

There are a couple of underlying issues we need to talk about. For one, it is hard to say no. It is often easier to say yes, even if you don’t like the consequences. But you clearly feel “no” — and I am here to tell you saying “no” does not make you a bad friend, a bad person, or a bad host.

Also, while you say you can deal with her bringing the dog over when it is just the two of you, clearly it is not your first choice. If it were a child or a love interest, you might say “Hey I really miss spending alone time with you,” but with a pup that’s pretty weird. I am hearing that the issue is a little less situation-specific (read: just about parties) than you’re saying.

If that is the case, what you really need to do is set limits about “hosting” your friend’s dog. Tell your friend how much you appreciate that the dog has brought so much love and pleasure into her life, and how great you think her dog is. Let her know that the dog hair in your apartment is getting to you, but that you would like to do activities with her and the dog outside your apartment, such as going for walks or hikes, or taking him to the park.

Of course not wanting him at your apartment extends to not wanting him at your parties, but if she brings it up, tell her that it won’t work for him to be at the party, but you look forward to seeing him another time, like on one of the aforementioned walks.

— Marge

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