DEAR READERS: I've stepped away from my desk for a few days. While I'm gone, please enjoy these "Best Of" questions. Today's theme is pets.
DEAR AMY: My dog for 2-1/2 years recently ran away. I found her last week living with another family. The other family refused to give her back. I invested in a HomeAgain microchip that was implanted in my dog for this very reason. My family and I are very upset. What should we do?
Jeannine from New Jersey
DEAR JEANNINE: I contacted HomeAgain's toll-free number and a counselor there assures me that if your dog is registered with your family, they will be able to prove that the dog belongs to you.
Rather than stand outside this new family's home, patting your legs and shouting, "Here Spot, come Spot," you should contact the police and ask their help in recovering this beloved member of your family. (November 2003)
DEAR AMY: I know this may sound bizarre, but can you please pass this on to readers? I own a pug dog. She's almost 2 years old, is very active at the dog park and loves long walks. She is the average weight of a pug and has a clean bill of health. It really burns me, though, that for every person who stops and comments on what a nice-looking dog I have, there are two people who feel the need to tell me that she is overweight. When you see a dog -- or any pet for that matter -- and you want to make a comment about its weight, think about how you would feel if someone said that about your child, spouse or even yourself. It hurts.
DEAR UPSET: I have an enormous and overweight cat and it used to bother me when people pointed out the obvious until I realized that they were right. Now I just laugh and say, "Hey, he's just big-boned!" Tell people that your pug's body shape is pretty normal for the breed. Pugs are hilarious and lovable. This is a very small issue in the overall scheme of things -- you are giving it too much weight. (April 2005)
DEAR AMY: My in-laws are coming for a visit soon. They will be staying with my family and me. They announced that they will be bringing their 80-pound black lab with them to our house. This is an inside dog, and we have cats who don't get along with dogs. It is also well known (to the in-laws) that I don't care for dogs. I am upset because they didn't ask for permission. Originally the dog was supposed to stay at a relative's house, at my in-laws' suggestion. When I brought that up, it was dismissed with, "I'll take the dog for lots of walks, and he can stay in the car." This dog is not used to staying in a car, except for long trips, and he is not used to being left outside. I haven't said anything, because I'm trying to keep the peace, and I think it is my husband's place to say something. But now my husband thinks the dog will be fine outdoors. Am I being unreasonable? What should I do?
DEAR ANNOYED: Well, I sure hope that you enjoy your houseguests and their dog, because you and your husband's unwillingness to confront this issue pretty much guarantees that you're going to have an 80-pound black lab sleeping on your bed.
I'm not sure why keeping the peace takes precedence over your home and your own pets, not to mention this dog's well-being (the thought of him "staying in the car" is disturbing), but you are making a mistake in letting this slide. Of course your husband should speak to his parents, and if he won't, then you should.
You should call your in-laws and give them the name of a nearby kennel. Boarding the dog at a nearby facility means the dog won't have to stay outside or in the car (which is quite cruel), and your in-laws can visit him for those long walks they like to take together. (November 2005)