Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My wife and I will soon be first-time grandparents, because our son and his wife are expecting. The problem is their dog. When they met, his then-girlfriend had a "rescue" dog. As far as I can tell, this dog is vicious and completely out of control. My son has been bitten at least twice, and the only times I have ever gotten close to the dog it has attacked me. When company comes over, the dog is locked in the garage. Our concern is what happens when they bring the baby home. "Oh, she's just territorial" is the excuse we hear. Territorial? Wait until a new pet human shows up. They have several nieces, ranging in age from 1 to 6. We live several states away. Would it be reasonable to ask for photos of the dog playing with the nieces as proof that this dog is safe with children? We've also considered calling the other grandparents, but everyone spends all their energy keeping my son's wife as happy as she can be. We have talked about calling child welfare if it appears they plan to let the new baby and the dog live in the same house. If we do that it would certainly destroy any future relationship, but someone has to have some sense.

Grandparent Prepared to Call CPS

DEAR GRANDPARENT: Although I agree with your concern about the risk as you present it, you are barking so loudly that it is YOUR chain that needs to be yanked.

Surely you must realize that if you present this couple with an aggressive and insulting personal attack, they will not only distance themselves from you, but they will also likely disregard any valid concerns you raise.

They are under no obligation to provide photographs to prove their dog is safe with children. Nor are they under any obligation to take your calls, open your emails or communicate with you at all.

If you are able somehow to mask your contempt for your daughter-in-law (or her parents) and your son for the length of time it takes to communicate respectfully about the dog, then you should. If you are willing to sacrifice your relationship with your son and his family for the sake of trying to ensure your future grandchild's safety from dog bites, then call CPS and ask them to make a safety check. But you should know that you only get one shot at this, and you might do much more good if you try to influence this family from the inside.

DEAR AMY: In light of the public's quest for government transparency, I wonder how this fits into relationships. Specifically I'm wondering when seriously dating, how much I am entitled to know about my significant other's past, especially when there is a divorce in his past. Not wanting to divulge the reason for it other than, "We grew apart" raises a red flag for me. Your thoughts?

Wondering

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DEAR WONDERING: I agree about this red flag. The first place to look for answers is from the principal subject of your inquiry.

Many people don't like to go into detail about their past relationships. This seems to be especially true for men, who (very generally speaking) don't communicate intimacy through personal (and perhaps painful) revelations.

You should say to your S.O., "I really need to know more about why you think your marriage ended. This is not just curiosity -- it is because I'm trying to know you as well as I can." If you think he is being deliberately secretive, then there are any number of tools at your disposal to learn more about his past. However, generally speaking, the instinct to investigate a lover usually means the relationship is doomed.

DEAR AMY: Here's my take on the question raised by "Hungry for Leftovers," about what to do with leftovers at a potluck dinner. The food you bring belongs to the hostess, and you should expect to go home with an empty dish. It's a wonderful treat for the hostess to eat leftovers and not have to cook for a few days. The food you bring is like any gift for a hostess -- it's hers to do with as she pleases.

Robin

DEAR ROBIN: Views on who gets the leftovers at a potluck are as varied as recipes for three-bean salad.