« Last post by NutellaNut on Today at 01:45:21 PM »
I need help in building backbone and creating phrasing regarding a friend's dog. I have read the earlier huuuuge thread about visitors' dogs, and I do know that I have the right to tell my friend, "No." But recent events make it clear I need help in thinking on my feet and being firm. I really love my friend, and she is awesome in many ways, so please don't suggest I drop her - I just need a little bolstering in my methods regarding the below situation.
Sorry this is so long, I have been stewing on it several days and I tend to be wordy.
BG: My friend Sally has a dog, Jakey. He is a sweet dog that she dotes on. She and her husband work long hours and Jakey has to spend all that time in a crate as he has anxiety issues. He also is very dog-aggressive and generally poorly socialized. She has tried in the past to train him and socialize him better but there has been little improvement.
My DH and I host outdoor parties in the summer, with 30 or more people. Several families bring their dogs, we cook out, swim, and so on. In the past Jakey has been overwhelmed by the numbers, crowding, and the other dogs. A couple of scuffles (with no actual injuries) happened, and we had to tell Sally that she can't bring him to parties any more, it just was too hard on Jakey, the other dogs, and everyone. She seemed OK with this. Jakey did still come a couple of times to my house when it was a much smaller gathering, with no others dogs.
Since then, Sally was walking Jakey with a friend and friend's small dog, trying to work on socializing him (for which I commend her, really I do!). Unfortunately, at some point Jakey attacked the other dog and injured him a lot, to the point where his survival wasn't certain. The dog did survive, but I'm sure the vet bills where astronomical. Sally seemed a little nonchalant about it (as did her friend, the owner of the dog), but I know she knew I was horrified for the little dog. She also said, in our discussion, something like, "I guess I can be glad that Jakey is other dog-aggressive, and not child-aggressive, because people won't sue over dogs like they would children." And that statement bothered me a fair bit.
BG2: I adore my cats, they are a huge part of my life and hold space in my heart larger than many people. One of my biggest flaws is irrational anxiety about my cats. It's something I'm working on, but I still worry when we're away, have to locate them as safe before we travel, that sort of thing. When we hold parties, I lock them upstairs in my bedroom so I can have peace of mind that they aren't trying to bolt outside, or cowering in the basement, or stressed by dogs a few feet away.
So, recently, Sally was due to come to my house for a music practice, which had been organized for more than a month. She called the night before, and told me that she had just found out that her husband had an activity the same night, so could she bring Jakey to music practice, because otherwise he would be locked up for more than 12 hours? I paused for a looooong moment, my brain stuttering, and said, "I, uh, don't know....I think that might be an issue...uh, I think DH will have a problem with that." She was taken aback and said, "Why?"
"Uh, because of the dog bite, we'd have to worry about the cats. Even if we lock them up, if one of them gets loose, he might go after them, you know..."
This went back and forth a couple of times, and she asked to then change the night of the music practice. We've done that far too many times in recent months and the night she proposed wouldn't work well for two of the others, so I said no. She wanted to cancel practice but I am tired of doing that (often at her behest). So she went back to Jakey coming, and I said I would ask my DH and call her back.
TO BE CLEAR: Jakey has never tried to bite a cat, and really, I think he wouldn't try to hurt them -- more just want to very actively investigate them. But my anxiety can't accept that premise.
Ultimately, my DH and I decided to say OK, he would help me corral the cats before Jakey arrived. I really wanted her to come to practice and that seemed to be the only way. It didn't work out very well, though - one of my cats wouldn't cooperate, and so I couldn't lock him up, and spent a very stressful 45 minutes trying to do so. Sally kept Jakey on the leash, but just put the loop of the leash under her chair leg. Halfway through practice, the cat predictably ran from under the sofa, the dog tried to chase him, the cat tried to run to the bedroom but the door was shut, so then he ran downstairs and banged himself on the door down there. I had to take time to find him in the clutter of the basement and make sure he was okay, and I was stressed for the rest of practice.
When Sally left later that night, she said, "I didn't realize you would be so stressed about Jakey. Why are you so worried about him?" I said, "Because of the dog he bit, it just makes me more nervous about the cats..." and she was bemused. "What dog? He didn't bite a dog, he never got in a fight here..." I said, "Not here -- your friend's dog, the one you were walking with and that almost died!" She said, "Oh, that -- now I understand what you meant. I thought you were saying he bit a dog here at your house."
Sooooo, now I need to figure out how to handle future requests. I would hope that she now knows not to ask, seeing how stressed I was, and that Jakey did chase the cat, and so on --- but I would have thought that a reasonable person would have picked up on my extreme reluctance and hesitation when she initially asked, too, and yet, she persisted. My plan so far:
1. Now that I know about her husband's regular activity on a particular night, we won't schedule against that, and said so at the practice. But that doesn't take care of any other unexpected nights where they both might be away from the house.
2. I will ask another member of the music group if we can have practice at his place if this becomes an issue again (he has cats, but is generally much less nervous about it than I am). Or is that just passing off my problem to someone else?
3. I want to generate scripts in my head to prepare for her asking to bring Jakey again. I guess I'm too soft in dealing with her (she has emotional difficulties I dance around a lot) and it's hard to be firm, but loving and welcoming, when I'm having to think on my feet. I know there aren't magic words, so I'm not asking for that, just scripts to have at the ready. Right now I'm thinking something like, "I'm sorry, I really can't have Jakey at the house -- it really sets off my own anxiety issues. Let's see if <other music group member> can hold practice that night." But if OMGM *doesn't* want to host Jakey, then what? Just beginning part of that statement? What happens when I'm trying to get Sally (who is sometimes reluctant anyway) to come to music practice, and she insists the only way is with Jakey? There are five of us in this group, practices without one of us are not very useful. And Sally's house cannot be used for practice.
4. Any suggestions welcome. Thank you for reading.