DEAR NATALIE: A neighbor whom I have known as a "seldom seen friend" for many years recently asked if she could spend some time at my house while her home was being shown by a Realtor. I agreed, but surprisingly she showed up with a large new (untrained) dog that was out of control in my house. The dog spilled water and food, jumped on cabinets and furniture. After an hour, it looked as if the dog needed to be relieved. So I suggested that we take the dog outside for a walk and subsequently suggested that we keep her tied up outside. It was another five hours before the Realtor was gone. When we went back outside, the dog had chewed through my brand new hose/handle to render it unusable. My neighbor was well aware that this had happened but didn't offer to replace it. Is this my fault for suggesting that the dog be kept outside or her fault for bringing the dog in the first place? -- BAD DOG
DEAR BAD DOG: Your neighbor is rude. She invited herself over, then she brings an untrained dog into the home, then the dog causes damage and she doesn't offer to replace what damage her animal did. You did nothing wrong, other than try and be a good neighbor (and we all know that no good deed goes unpunished). She originally should have told you that the dog was coming with her, and she should have offered to tie her dog up outside in your yard. Once having the dog secured outside, she should have cleared the area of anything that the dog could have gnawed on to minimize the chances of the dog finding inappropriate chew toys. In fact, she should have brought a bowl for water for the dog along with a treat or two, as well. This isn't the dog's fault. This is the inconsiderate owner's fault. At least you know in this situation how differently you would have acted and be glad you were raised well. In fact, call your mom right now and thank her. As my acupuncturist always says (and, yes, I have an acupuncturist), "As hard as it is to be with them, just be glad you aren't them."
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Get out of your comfort zone. Attend a social function out of your normal circle of influence. You may be surprised how much you actually have in common with those who come from different backgrounds.
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)