Dear Amy:

When I met my girlfriend, I made it clear that I would only date and marry a Jewish girl. Yes, my religion is that important to me. We stayed friends.

Soon, she took a genuine interest in me and in Judaism -- borrowing Jewish books and teaching herself Hebrew. Feeling safer, I agreed to date her because she was talking about converting to Judaism.

Now she has dropped her interest in Judaism, no longer wishes to convert and finds fault with many aspects of Jewish teachings.

I love her, and we are perfect in every other area.

Should I give her an ultimatum? My parents feel she is a liar and untrustworthy. She was even offended when my parents bought her a menorah for Hanukah.

She tells me she is not ready yet to convert, but she does not supply reasons why.

We have been together for 18 months, but I am leaning toward ending the relationship.

Please set me straight.

Perplexed in Philly

The kind assumption is that, out of a desire to please you, your girlfriend gave Judaism a try and that the religion is not a good fit for her.

The unkind assumption is that your girlfriend is manipulative enough to insincerely engage in a faith practice in order to win you over.

Your first job is to decide once and for all if you are prepared to leave this relationship.

An ultimatum won't work, because if your girlfriend "chooses" Judaism because of your ultimatum, won't you always wonder if her faith is sincere? I assume that you don't want to be with someone who would treat religion so lightly. You don't want that, and your family doesn't want that, and I can't speak for God (not yet, anyway), but let's assume that God doesn't want that either.

Your faith is important enough to you that you have put it at the center of your life. Now it's time to move on and find a nice Jewish girl. There are plenty of "NJG" out there, and I'm certain they'd be very happy to make your acquaintance.

Dear Amy:

While walking my dog the other day, a child (playing out in the streets with another child, both about 5 years old with no parents in sight) came running up to me shouting, "Doggie, doggie, doggie" and proceeded to shove his small hands into my dog's face. I said to him, "You're supposed to ask if you can pet the dog first," though my dog was already agitated by this time. He pet her for a few seconds, while she backed away and hid behind me, and then I told him we were going to continue our walk.

Why don't parents warn their children about the dangers of dogs and how inappropriate it is to approach a stranger and a stranger's dog? My dog is not a fan of children, their little hands darting too quickly toward her. She's a wonderful dog and very well behaved, but she feels threatened by children and won't hesitate to show her teeth as a warning.

I don't feel I need to teach every child how to properly ask a person if he or she can pet a dog -- this is not my job. Please tell parents how important it is to teach their children to ask strangers if they can pet the dog. If my dog did happen to get agitated and bite the child, you could bet the parents would magically appear and slap me with a lawsuit, through no fault of my own (or my dog's).

D. Finnegan, RestonActually, it is your job to teach every child how to properly ask to pet your dog, because you are your dog's steward, and until she learns to speak English, you are going to have to do the talking for her.

You do make a great point. Parents do need to work with their children to teach them how to approach animals (cats, horses and koala bears too). But when a toddler lurches up to you, you can't know if her parents have done their job, so you'll have to continue to be patient and instructive -- for your pet's sake.

Every time you do this, as annoying as you seem to find it, you are making the world just a tiny bit better for all of our animals (and kids). And that's the whole idea, right?

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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