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Screaming Mimi

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 4/10/2002

My entire family is in a big tizzy about my new dog. She's just the sweetest little thing, a tiny teacup poodle named Mimi after my grandmother. Well, at least she's sweet to me; she has a problem with children, especially toddlers. A few days ago my sister was at the house with Angie, her 2-year-old, and even though I warned her repeatedly not to let Angie bother the dog, she ignored me and let the child pester Mimi and chase her around the living room until Mimi had had enough and nipped at Angie's hand. Angie wasn't hurt, but of course she started screaming like wolves were after her. My sister got huffy and accused Mimi of attacking Angie and me of not caring about her daughter, and now everyone is on my case big time. They all think I should keep Mimi locked up when Angie is here. I love my sister and Angie and I want them to visit, but Mimi cries when I lock her up, and it breaks my heart to hear her. I'm single and Mimi is like my child. My family says I spoil her, but I say that this is Mimi's home and it's not fair to punish her, and it's my sister's job to control her daughter. What do you think?

Big Flap Over Little Poodle

Dear Big Flap:
As the devoted mommy of two totally adored pussycats, I can tell you that anyone, of any age, foolish enough to torment either of them in my presence risks not only banishment but possible physical reprisal. It's absolutely the parents' responsibility to teach their children respect for other people's homes, property, and pets. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of a hostess to put her guests at ease. So, if I know a small child will be at my house, I'll put any valuable breakables out of her reach, because I'd rather be temporarily inconvenienced than fretful and anxious. And I make it clear, as kindly as possible, that the cats are not toys and do not like to be played with.

Before you let this escalate into an all-out war, you and your sister both need to calm down. Ask Sis to explain to Angie that not all dogs like little girls and that Mimi is one of the ones that doesn't. Keep some toys for Angie at your house to distract her. Or perhaps you could hold Mimi on your lap and gently introduce Angie to her under your very careful supervision. If worse comes to worse, however, and Mimi shows any indication that she might bite, it is imperative, sad as it will make you both, to put her in a room by herself. Not only can a dog's bite be dangerous; if your sister sued, she could legally have Mimi destroyed, which would be a lot worse than the occasional hours of separation.

My best friend has been dating a guy seriously for about a year and a half. In the beginning, she admitted to me that he wasn't treating her so well, so, being a good friend, I hated his guts. Recently, however, he's been acting pretty decent and she seems happy, so I decided to give him another chance. Well, I still don't like him. It's nothing he's done or said in particular; he just gives me the creeps. I realize that he's my friend's choice, at least for now, and it's her business if she wants to put up with him. But she always assumes every invitation includes him, and I don't want to have to see him every time I see her. Is there a tactful way to ask her not to bring him sometimes?

Just Don't Like the Guy

Dear Just Don't:
There is no law that says you have to like the guys your friends fall for, although it's a lot easier all around if being in the same room with them doesn't make you want to puke. When it does, however, tact, and the wish to keep your friendship alive, should keep you from saying so. No one wants to hear her lover trashed, even when she'd like to slam him headfirst into a Dumpster herself. So it's a good idea to keep your negative opinions to yourself, even when you think you're being supportive.

Instead of saying something like, "If I have to spend another minute with that loser, I'll eat my shoes," try telling her that sometimes it's more fun to see her solo because it's more relaxed, and suggest doing something together you know he wouldn't enjoy, like the ballet or a chick flick. Unfortunately, because people tend to isolate themselves when they pair up, even if you liked him as much as she does, you're probably not going to see as much of her--with or without him--as you'd like. You're just gonna have to learn to live with that.

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