DEAR ABBY: My 6-year-old daughter, "Meg," has severe eczema. She's highly allergic to a long list of things, including dogs. Recently, at a basketball court and at an outdoor restaurant, we encountered some dog owners who refused to pull their dogs back after I informed them about her allergy. Both said, "It's a public place!" as if my daughter should not be in public. One man even argued that my child "couldn't possibly" be allergic to his poodle.
I take my children out in public often, and I never allow them to touch other people. Why can't dog owners understand the concept? Other than avoiding public areas that are dog friendly, and pulling my daughter away whenever she's touched by a dog, what can I do? -- MOM KNOWS BEST, IRVINE, CALIF.
DEAR MOM: The idea that dog owners would fail to pull their animals back after being told someone was highly allergic shocks me. However, because you can't make everyone behave responsibly, you will have to "dog proof" your daughter.
At 6, she's old enough to understand the reason she's broken out and itching is because she came in contact with one of the things to which she is allergic. Teach her to stay out of reach and to announce loudly, "Please hold your dog back! I'm allergic!" when the situation calls for it. And if you are with her and see someone with an animal approach, you should take the initiative and say emphatically, "My daughter is highly allergic to dogs. Please keep it away from my child!"
And while I'm at it, no child -- or adult -- should ever touch a strange dog without the owner's permission because you never know how the animal might react.
DEAR ABBY: I work at the front desk of a construction company. My work area is located in the lobby. I'm responsible for greeting visitors, answering the phone, typing letters and other administrative tasks. The only thing separating me from the visitors is a 12-inch-high counter that surrounds my desk.
Quite often, visitors must wait several minutes for the person they're seeing to come to the lobby. When they do, they often plant both arms on the counter, drape themselves over the top and scan every piece of paper on the surface of my desk, including what's showing on my computer screen. They also try to converse with me while I'm trying to work and answer the phone. I find this rude, inappropriate and an invasion of my personal work space.
How can I convey this to visitors without coming across as rude and jeopardizing the company's relationship with them? Desk modifications are not an option. -- BITING MY TONGUE IN UPSTATE NEW YORK
DEAR BITING YOUR TONGUE: Ask your boss how sensitive the correspondence you are handling is, and explain that it is being viewed by clients who walk in. Some offices handle the problem by keeping documents face down when they are not being worked on. Also, consider tilting your computer monitor and installing a privacy screen to block the view.
Because client relations is part of your job description, do not allow your annoyance at chatty clients to show. Smile and say, "I'd love to talk, but I have a ton of work I have to finish. Would you like a magazine-newspaper-water while you wait?" If that doesn't do the trick, find out from your boss which of your tasks takes precedence.
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