All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
When I was in college, my roommates thought Mike was my younger brother. They were shocked on visiting day to find out that Mike was a furry, four-legged member of my family. Mike was our dog. I spoke of Mike in such loving and anthropomorphic terms, they were sure he was human. In most families, pets do become full-fledged members. This is fine within the immediate family, but do be aware that not everyone will have the same feeling for your animal. Here are some guidelines for proper pet protocol:
Forewarn of Fur ~ When inviting guests to your home, do warn them of any pets. Whether it is an allergy or an aversion, people should not be shocked when entering your home to find you have a pet.
Greeting Guests ~ You may enjoy and encourage hugs from your pet when you walk in the door. However, not all of your friends and family will want a sniff and a kiss. Try to contain your pet during the initial introductions.
Best Behavior ~ Having guests over is exciting for both you and your pet. You may even want to tucker out and then sequester your pet while guests are over to prevent any occurrences.
Managing Meals ~ While Fluffy may regularly walk on your kitchen counters, try to avoid having her do so when guests are over (especially if they are invited for dinner). You should also refrain from having Fido lick your hand as you are making dinner. And no guest should have to endure a pet begging from the table.
Neighborly No-no's ~ Your pet should be kept quietly on your property. If your dog is a barker, make sure to bring him/her back inside before the 10-minute mark. When walking your pets, bring along the proper equipment to remove anything they may be leaving behind.
Family Functions ~ Unless your pets' presence has specifically been requested at a function (even if it is any outdoor event), do not bring them along. The host has enough to plan without having to consider the needs of our four-legged friends.
Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ I am deathly allergic to cats and a close friend of mine has two. She tells me that I should just take some allergy pills. Most pills make me terribly sleepy and groggy. Plus, I do not like to take pills unless they are absolutely necessary. What can I do?
A: You have a number of choices. You can take the allergy pills, and go over and nap on her couch. Or, you can make plans to meet her out where the cats are not an issue. Or, if she has a balcony or deck, visit during the summer when you can spend most of the time outdoors.
Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ When I visit my mother-in-law, I often see her feeding the dog bits and pieces of what she is cooking. Her hands go from the dog’s mouth to the food without any washing. This totally grosses me out. Can I say something?
A: No, it is not worth starting a fight with your mother-in-law over her hygiene habits. There are two things you can do. First, eat a lot before you go to the house and then just move your food around on your plate. And/or offer to bring a salad or side dish so that you know there is at least one thing that is safe to eat.
Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ My dog is my best friend and I love to travel with her. I get the feeling from my family that they resent my dog being around. But my dog makes less of a mess than some of my young nieces and nephews. My siblings do not need to ask if it is ok for them to bring their kids to our mother’s house. Do I need to ask about bringing my dog?
A: You have probably heard this from your mother before, but life is not fair. While your dog very well may be better behaved than some family members, you should ask each and every time there is a family get together if you can bring your dog. If you do not have them already, every pet owner should have the name of a trustworthy pet-sitter as well as pet-hotel should you need to leave your pet behind.