Dear Amy:

We do not have a dog. Yet family members often ask us to watch their dog while they vacation.

They leave their dog at our house for days or up to a week!

We have made it very clear that we do not want the responsibility of a dog of our own, hoping they would get the message. They certainly can afford to board the dog, but instead they move the responsibility to our family.

This leaves us in a position where we are restricted in what we do because a dog cannot be left alone all day. This is partly why we do not have a dog. In the summer, when we have flexible schedules, we may choose to take a last-minute trip ourselves.

I don't want to be confrontational, so if they ask if we mind dog-sitting, we say that we don't mind. I know for a fact that they know that we mind but they are being selfish.

Am I being selfish for not wanting the responsibility of dog-sitting?

A Dog-Free Family

My favorite part of your letter is when you say that you don't want to be confrontational, so when asked if you would mind dog-sitting, you actually lie and say that you don't mind it.

Then you blame the people who take you at your word.

Here's how you fix this. The next time you are asked if you would mind dog-sitting, you say, "You know, I'm a little embarrassed. I haven't been completely honest. This isn't anything personal against Muffin, but we really don't like dog-sitting. That's why we've decided not to get a dog for ourselves."

If you can't manage that level of honesty, you can say, "I'm sorry but we have plans ourselves during the time you need a dog-sitter so we won't be able to do it." Of course, this leaves you open to more dog-sitting requests and more opportunities to be nonconfrontational.

Now stay. Sit. Heel.

Dear Amy:

My mother passed away four years ago, and my husband was executor of her estate.

My husband and I did all of the work involved.

I commuted to her area (about two hours away) and maintained her home until it was sold.

My brother and his family, who live out East, were not involved in any estate duties.

My husband declined any fee as executor, and my brother and his wife sent us three bottles of wine as a thank-you.

After her death, we discovered that there was a medical procedure that was done incorrectly. Because of this, my brother and I were recently awarded a small settlement.

My husband spent two years dealing with lawyers, doctors and hospitals in two states. My brother called me one afternoon and told me to say "thanks" to my husband.

Am I wrong to expect that they could spend five minutes to send a thank-you note or some type of acknowledgment to my husband for his hard work?

I am not particularly close to my brother, and my resentment is growing. Should I write them a letter and let them know how I feel, or do I just let it go? (By the way, they used their settlement money to buy a Jaguar.)


It sounds to me that sending three bottles of wine, in fact, is a gesture of thanks. The wine and phone call might not be sufficient, but keep in mind that your brother probably thinks he's actually thanked you.

Because you and your brother aren't close, you risk a real estrangement if you don't work this out. If you do choose to write a letter to your brother, please don't accuse him of being selfish and squandering his money on a Jaguar -- he can choose to spend this money any way he pleases. Simply tell him that it was a very long road through your mother's illness and death and that you are so grateful that your loving husband chose to handle all of the details and did such a good job. This opens the door for your brother to turn around and do right by you. I hope he chooses to thank you properly.

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