Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Try to Compromise Over Dad’s Dog

DEAR NATALIE: My father is extremely attached to his small dog and won't travel without it. He finds sitters for his other dogs but will not let this one leave his side. My husband and I both have allergies, keep a very clean home and have never had any pets inside. I've explained to my father that while I would love to have him visit, he cannot bring his dog. He recently showed up at my house (several hours away) for my baby shower with his dog. My husband and I were shocked. How do I get him to understand that I'm not trying to be rude, but I need him to abide by our wishes? -- NO PETS ALLOWED

DEAR NO PETS ALLOWED: Clearly your father has an attachment to this dog for a reason. Perhaps it's filling an emotional void? You didn't mention your mother -- are they divorced or is he a widower? Animals, especially with older people, can be a source of companionship, can ease pain (both physical and emotional) and can reduce anxiety. Can you deal with it? How long is he going to stay? A week? A weekend? Surely you can find a way to keep the dog in the home so that it is of little burden to you while making your father happy. Perhaps the dog can stay in his bedroom or he could keep him in a carrier. You sound as though you are someone who would clean the bedroom before and after your father visits, so if your allergies aren't life-threatening, could you stand to be uncomfortable for a few days? Sometimes, we want to have things our way, but when you look at the big picture is it really worth the fight? Clearly you love your dad, so I am sure you can come up with a compromise.

DEAR NATALIE: Where are all the single, successful men? -- Panicked in Pittsburgh

DEAR PANICKED IN PITTSBURGH: Assuming you have exhausted the options of online dating or sitting in the Shadyside Whole Foods cafe and just waiting, try finding guys IRL (in real life). With the crazy hours people work, it can be difficult to find guys outside the office pool. Join an organization. From the arts to charities to sports, there are a million ways to get out there and meet men with a common interest. Joining the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project ( might be the ticket - it reaches 25,000 young people in Pittsburgh through social service, advocacy projects and a robust sports league. If you don't have the time for that, attend some social events in your areas of interest. Check out my social registry in the Seen column online ( for upcoming events. Put yourself out there, broaden your idea of "successful" and see what happens. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: "You're never fully dressed without a smile." A friendly face will encourage people to approach you when at events, making it easier and more likely that you will walk away with new professional contacts and even a new friend. 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to 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.)