DEAR ABBY: My mother, who is in her late 70s, lives alone with her standard poodle, "Bonaparte." She refuses to go anywhere unless we agree that Bonaparte can go, too. When one of us offers to take her to dinner, the poodle waits in the car. She won't visit family members either, unless Bonaparte is welcome.
For Mother's birthday, I planned a special outing at a lovely restaurant and a matinee performance of a show that was in town. Mamma refused to go unless we took the dog. It wasn't appropriate, so I told her no. She refused to go and is still mad at me. She continually tries to make me feel guilty for "spoiling" her birthday.
How can I make my mother realize that the dog is an animal companion, and there are times when she needs to enjoy the company of people sans her dog? -- HAD IT UP TO HERE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR HAD IT: Some people are so fond of their pets they are reluctant to part with them, even temporarily. Your mother appears to be one of them. She has made her feelings clear, and I doubt anyone -- myself included -- could convince her to socialize without him. (Feelings are not always rational.) Since you can't teach an old dog new tricks, when you invite your mother and the dog out, make sure there is plenty of air circulating in the car and a water bowl so Bonaparte will be safe and comfortable.