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Miss Manners: How to deal with owners who won’t restrain their dogs?

Dear Miss Manners: How should we interact with owners who won’t restrain their dogs?

I live in an apartment building with a tiny elevator, and sometimes tenants get on with their dogs. These dogs will start to lick my feet or nip at my skirt. The dogs could easily be restrained by their owners, but the owners choose to let their pets continue to lick me to their hearts’ content.

I’ve tried cold stares. I’ve tried backing as far into the elevator as I can go. The owners just smile and say, “Oh, this is Fluffy,” as though I wish to personally be introduced to their dogs. Or they look offended that I’m not showering their dog with attention and compliments.

I’ve said, “Excuse me, but I’m allergic to dogs” (I’m not), to which they respond, “But he’s hypoallergenic!” I’ve resorted to taking the stairs as much as I can, but this isn’t always possible. I should also probably mention that I’m not a huge fan of dogs.

How do I take the elevator in peace without having to deal with daily unwelcome encounters with dogs? Please note that I am not talking about dogs trained to physically assist their owners. The beasts that I “meet” are usually, like their owners, badly behaved.

Dispense with the stares and the explanations. Dispense, also, with yourself: If an elevator car arrives with a dog already on board, wait for the next one; if a dog boards a car you are riding, push the next button and get off. This should get you at least partway to your destination.

If you need additional time to escape, Miss Manners will make you a deal. If, when a dog boards, you smile at the owner, she will not tell if, in your haste to get off, you inadvertently push two buttons.

Dear Miss Manners: If a person needs to send a sympathy card to a neighbor and the mailbox is directly next to theirs, should the card be mailed with a stamp or simply placed in the mailbox?

The etiquette rule is to write “By hand” on the envelope — a charming form, if little used these days.

As Miss Manners assumes that stamping letters is how one pays for having them delivered — rather than a shakedown for doing the post office’s job for them — she sees no reason to waste a stamp.

Dear Miss Manners: I work in public education and am not sure how to deal with colleagues who misuse words in documents to be published.

On the subject of word choice, Miss Manners notes that your own use of the term “colleague” obscures your relationship to the offender.

She takes you to mean people at work who do not report to you and did not ask for your assistance. Such people can, she realizes, be infuriating, but unasked-for editing requires a delicate touch, as in: “Very colorful way to make your point! I really enjoyed it. Did you mean ‘board’ here when you wrote ‘bored’?”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin