Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: A good friend of mine keeps asking me to watch her dog when she goes out of town. While it seems an innocent request, there are several things about it that bother me. Firstly, her dog requires four visits per day, at very specific hours -- making it nearly impossible to run my life normally. An option she provides is for me to stay at her house, but that is not something I am able to do, because I have to work from my own home office. Her apartment, although a short drive from mine, does not have adequate parking, so it is extremely inconvenient to visit during the day. She has asked me to watch the dog for many days in a row, and she asks me at the very last minute -- sometimes just a few days before. I believe she should pay the money to have the dog boarded. Asking a friend to watch the dog for one day every now and then is fine, but I think it is completely inappropriate for her to expect me to dedicate this much time to her dog, and to take so much time out of my busy life. She thinks it is convenient for me because I live a few minutes away, and because I am a freelancer -- but it really is not convenient. I keep giving her excuses why I cannot watch the dog; sometimes the excuses are legitimate and sometimes I am making them up. I truly do not have time to take care of a pet during the day, which is why I have no pets of my own. How do I let her know that I am not comfortable handling this responsibility, without sounding like a jerk?
-- "S" in California
DEAR "S": Using lame-o excuses and falsehoods to get out of doing this makes you sound like more of a jerk than this simple response: "No."
Because you seem like the sort of person who is easily pushed around by an Alpha dog, I give you permission to expand your "No" to include this: "I was willing to do this a few times but I don't want to do it anymore. It is way too time-consuming for me." Bam. That's it.
She is lucky you stepped up those times you did, and now she is going to have to find someone else.