DEAR AMY: I live in a condo with six other units. The walls and floors are very well-insulated, but definitely not soundproof. We recently adopted a dog, "Princess," from a family friend. Princess is still young (two years old) and she's a sweet dog who is (mostly) wonderful when we are home. If we are around, she's extremely quiet and doesn't bark at the other pets in the house or even when visitors come to the door. Recently I left Princess alone. The next day my neighbor below told me that the dog barked for almost three hours. I apologized profusely and she assured me that it wasn't a problem for her. Since Princess is kennel-trained, I thought that kenneling her when we are gone would solve the problem. Two weeks later I learned that the dog continues to bark when she's alone (albeit for a shorter period of time). Again I apologized and promised to work on training. However, training will take some time. No other neighbors have complained but Princess is a rather large dog with a ferocious-sounding bark and (although she's not) she looks like a restricted breed. On one hand, I want to leave notes for my other neighbors apologizing for the noise (assuming they hear her) and asking for their patience. On the other hand, I worry that someone will use it against me and complain to animal control (or the authorities). What would you do? If I leave a note, do you have suggested wording?
DEAR PARENTS: If your primary concern is that your note will somehow notify your neighbors that you have an unhappy dog held hostage in your apartment, I'd say that you needn't worry about that -- they are likely very aware of it. If you are worried that a note from you will serve as evidence that your dog is not in the right home and might prompt calls to animal control, then shame on you.
Be as upfront and courteous in your note as you were to the neighbor who complained. Thank them for their indulgence while your dog adjusts, assure them you are working on it, and leave your cellphone number so they can call you with any concerns.
As committed as you are, your apartment home might not be the right place for this young, large and active dog. If you aren't around during the day, you may have to take her to doggy day care -- or hire a walker to exercise and keep her stimulated and happy when you aren't home.
DEAR AMY: I completely disagree with your advice to "Saddened Parent," who got attached to her 21-year-old daughter's boyfriend. As a mother of two daughters I can tell you that getting attached to their high school boyfriends is emotional suicide! Most high school sweethearts don't end up marrying each other so becoming emotionally attached as the parent is a very bad idea. I tell all of my friends with young teen daughters to NOT get attached to the boyfriend -- this way you can be 100 percent supportive of your daughter and her decisions when the time comes. That is not to say you shouldn't be kind, inviting and supportive of the young man in your daughter's life, just don't be stupid!
DEAR SUE: Thank you for your perspective. I agree with your admonition to be kind, inviting and supportive. "Don't be stupid!" is also excellent advice, applied to many situations. Thank you.
DEAR AMY: I'm responding to "Furious Dad," whose family spent a Christmas visit with relatives who were ill and is now upset with them because his own family caught the illness. He should have simply gone to a hotel and enjoyed an unexpected vacation with his own family, while offering to be helpful to the sick family members in the other household. He was a selfish, boorish guest to expect this family to house and feed his brood. He blamed others when he could have seen this as an opportunity to expect more from himself.
DEAR STUFF: Well said.