There are three things every summer involves: resorts, people and dogs. The dogs have precedence over everything else. If your dog isn't in place, you can't go on vacation.

Bruce Van Wyk is an example. He was supposed to come visit me, but at the last moment he called to say the trip was off because he had just gotten an appointment for his dog with the vet.

I said, "I'm sorry to hear this. Why don't you get another appointment?"

He was furious. "You obviously don't know anything about veterinarians. They're harder to get to see than electricians. If I cancel this appointment, I won't get another one until Thanksgiving."

"Won't your dog be disappointed if he doesn't go to the beach?"

"Allenby hates the beach."

"Why didn't you tell me that before you accepted my invitation?"

"Allenby doesn't want anyone to know he's afraid of the water."

Wes Picard has a different problem. I told him he could come but his dog couldn't. I suggested, "Put him in a kennel."

Picard said, "I can't do that. When I first got Toga, I promised I would never put him in a kennel, and I can't go back on that now."

The dog problem is as follows: Everyone's own dog is a perfect canine and will never do anything to shame the owner. On the other hand, dogs of guests are slobbering beasts who are intent on wrecking your house and making enough noise to wake up the neighbors.

It takes a lot of guts to refuse to accept someone else's dog into your home as a guest. It's worse than rejecting his child.

The problem with letting someone else's pets come to your paradise is that they don't know where they are and keep getting into mischief. Last year George, a poodle, came with his owners. No sooner had they checked in with me than George went out on the road and bit my neighbor.

The neighbor threatened to sue me. My friends, who owned the dog, said he had never done anything like that before, and if I knew anything about dogs I would have built a fence around the house.

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate